The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#2. He's a Jew! He won't eat the ham!
Africa - Episode 10

Okay, now we're really getting down to the good stuff. This moment easily could have been #1 on the list. EASILY. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever laughed as hard during an episode of Survivor as I did the first time I saw this scene. I honestly couldn't believe I'd ever see something like this on prime time TV.

Over the past few years, various threads have popped up on the Survivor Sucks message boards with subjects like "What is the funniest Survivor moment?" And every time I see that thread pop up, I always nominate this moment. I always vote for "Jews don't eat ham" because it's a moment that I don't feel has really gotten its due. I think it's hilarious, and so do lots of people. But a good chunk of the Survivor community doesn't seem to remember it at all, and I've always felt that was a terrible shame.

If you want to know the truth, the sole reason I decided to create the Funny 115 was to highlight some of my favorite Survivor moments that a lot of people didn't even seem to remember. Sure, everybody knows that Robb and the Stingray was funny. And everybody remembers Judd's speech about A.D.D. But the sole reason I created this list was to spotlight some of the lesser-known, forgotten moments, like this one between Tom and Ethan. In fact in many ways this is the single most important moment to me on the Funny 115.

So here it is, from start to finish.

Big Tom's crowning Survivor achievement.

There's no way you can watch this scene and not laugh.

It's the tenth episode of Survivor: Africa and that means it's time for the famous food auction. This is the second food auction in Survivor history, and it's destined to go down as one of the best. Especially when you have a guy like Big Tom involved.

Jeff Probst, explaining the rules of the food auction

So we work our way through the food auction, and most of the items are fairly forgettable. Big Tom wins a beer. Kim Powers wins a sundae. Ethan wins a mug of hot fudge. Nothing special so far.

But that's when we come to the very last item of the auction.

"Mystery plate, up for grabs!"

The last item is a mystery plate, and the only people who seem interested in it are Tom and Ethan. And this makes sense, too, since Tom and Ethan are probably the closest pair in the game at this point (remember, Lex and Tom just had a falling out the day before). So the two friends decide to chip in and bid 9,000 shillings. Tom and Ethan bid on the mystery plate, they decide to split its contents no matter what, and this is where hilarity ensues.

Ethan and Tom, best friends

Oh yeah, there's one part of the story that I forgot to add. You see, Tom and Ethan come from different parts of the world, and both come from incredibly different backgrounds. Ethan Zohn is a nice Jewish boy from New England. And Tom Buchanan is... well... not a nice Jewish boy from New England. He's a goat farmer from rural Virginia. His son's name is Bucky Bo. And he's also not the most sensitive or subtle man when it comes to comments about religion.

Just keep that in mind, because this is where the scene is about to get fun...


Not a Jew

Tom and Ethan decide to chip in for the mystery plate

Tom places the winning bid

The best part about this scene is that I don't have to explain anything more from here on out. All I have to do is post the vidcaps, and let the action speak for itself. So here we go...

Since Tom placed the bid himself, he gets to come down to peek at the "mystery food item" that he and Ethan just won

And... oh boy! Is he excited!

Tom and Ethan just won a breakfast platter! Pancakes! Potatoes! Butter! And bacon (or ham)! It's the single best item in the food auction! And they just won it!

Tom is so excited that he physically loses control. He grabs the platter, and the big man starts running.

Ethan cheers the fact that he just won some breakfast

And that's when the reality of the situation finally hits Big Tom. He suddenly realizes that this moment is even BETTER than he initially thought. Why? Because Ethan is Jewish, of course. And Jews can't eat ham. And what does that mean? MORE HAM FOR BIG TOM!!!

So how does Big Tom celebrate?

"He's a Jew! He's a Jew! He won't eat the ham!!!!"

"He's a Jew!!!!!"

"He won't eat the ham! HE WON'T EAT THE HAM!!!"

Ethan starts cracking up

Kim finds it funny too

Tom is still lost in the rapturous fantasy that he actually gets an extra piece of ham. And he's so excited by this prospect that he really doesn't know what to do. "Hallelujah! He's a Jew! Hallelujah!"

I've never seen a person laugh as hard as Ethan. He's completely losing it by this point.

Tom runs over to hug his non-ham-eating Hebrew friend

Jeff Probst is even busting up over Tom's reaction, and he knows he can't just let this moment go. So he calls Tom over to come back to the auction table and answer some questions. And the look on Tom's face as he runs back to the auction table will absolutely crack you up. I've never seen a person looking this happy before. In fact, I think it's safe to say that Tom is happier here than he would have been had he actually won Survivor. And all because he now gets one extra piece of ham.

Tom comes running back to the auction table

Look at that face!

I get one extra piece of ham!!!!!!

Jeff asks why he's so happy, and Tom explains it's because Ethan is a Jew and Jews can't eat ham. And then Tom jokingly adds, "... and I hate it. I hate it for him. I hate it!" The way Tom delivers this line always cracks me up.

We don't see it, but Tom literally may have an erection because of the extra ham

So there you have it. One of the funniest moments of spontaneity (as well as outright anti-Semitism) in the history of the show. Although to be fair, Tom's not really being an Anti-Semite. All he's doing is stating a fact.

A) Ethan is a Jew
B) Jews can not eat ham
C) Thus Tom gets to eat Ethan's ham

I know Tom gets a lot of flak for being a little insensitive in his speech sometimes, but there's no way you can fault the guy for just plainly stating a fact. Oh sure, he could have done it with a little more sensitivity, but the man was hungry, so what do you expect? I still say this is one of the single funniest moments I've ever seen on a TV show. And I'll never think of Big Tom without picturing his joy over getting an extra piece of ham from Ethan during the food auction.

This scene truly was one in a million.

Ethan and Tom, enjoying their reward

I love the Jews!

P.S. This is the last moment from Big Tom on the list. So let's give a big hand to the guy who showed up more times than any other player on the Funny 115. In fact the only players who were even close to Big Tom were Judd, Chris Daugherty and motherf***ing Sandra. So thanks Tom. Thanks for being the MVP of the Funny 115.

P.P.S. This scene reminds me of one of my all-time favorite stand-up comedian jokes, from Jon Stewart (circa 1990), back when he was doing stand-up. Jon Stewart is Jewish, and he had a bit about how Jews had weird rules, "Like Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Don't eat pork." The audience would laugh, and then Jon would say, "But you Catholics have terrible rules too. I mean, think about it. Thou Shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Don't masturbate." And then Jon would finish his bit by saying, "See the deal with Catholics is.... they can eat the pork. They just can't play with it."

Ha ha ha. Sorry, that joke just always killed me.

P.P.P.S. There's no way I'm leaving this entry without one last look at the sheer joy on Big Tom's face when he realizes he's about to get an extra piece of ham.

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