The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#40. Jaburu! Wins Immunity!
Amazon - Episode 1

Ugh. This one really hurts to write about, for obvious reasons. But at the same time I would be irresponsible if I left it off the countdown. There's no way I can do a list like The Funny 115 and leave off the first immunity challenge in Survivor: Amazon. So in essence I am now forced to take one for the team and be enthusiastic in writing about a moment that... even now... still makes me cringe. I hope you appreciate the sacrifice that I am making for you guys.

I played a lot of sports when I was a kid. In fact, I played baseball all the way up into college. To this day I still describe myself as "a nerdy jock." And as a young athlete growing up, there was one piece of advice I heard over and over again that I was always sure to follow. This was one rule I never ever broke whenever I was playing competitive sports:

"Don't ever play sports against a girl. Because there's no possible good outcome in it for you."

My dad told me this over and over when I was a kid and he was absolutely right. If you're a guy, and you play sports against a girl, either one of two things will happen. Either you win, and you feel bad because you beat up a girl. Or you lose, and you never hear the end of it. And those are the only two possible outcomes for a guy. All you are doing is setting yourself up for a possible humiliation.

And this leads us nicely into the first episode of Survivor: The Amazon.

Thanks for ruining it for all of us, Ryan

You remember the first episode of Amazon, don't you? I really don't see how you could possibly forget it. Because even though I hate it, I will begrudgingly admit that it's probably the finest of the Survivor opening episodes. And I'm talking every season too. I think the Amazon premiere blows all the other premieres away, and it's solely because the women beat the men in the first immunity challenge. Now that was a moment that was impossible to forget. That was Must See TV taken to a new level, it was one of the legitimate "water cooler" moments in the history of Survivor. Because if you saw the Amazon premiere the night that it aired, I guarantee you were talking about it the next day.

Failure #1 (left) and Failure #2 (right)

Here's a recap of episode one for those of you who missed it. I'm going to keep it relatively brief because... well... because I'm a guy. And because it hurts to have to relive this. So screw you Cesternino and screw you the rest of the Tambaquis. Screw you guys for losing this on behalf of all of us. I really do hate you all because of it.

Daniel Lue can eat me

The Amazon premiere opened with Jeff Probst greeting the Survivors and calling them down to join their respective tribes. And in a Survivor shocker, Jeff called all the female players over to the same team. What the...? Did this mean this season was going to be the men against the women? A legitimate Battle of the Sexes? Why, that had never been done before on Survivor! And right away this promised to be a memorable season. Even if nothing exciting happened during the Amazon season, the fact that it was men against women was guaranteed to bring it some big time publicity.

When the male tribe (Tambaqui) met up for the first time at camp, they were extremely cocky about their chances to win. There was not a guy here on this tribe who thought they would ever lose a single challenge, and I have to say this was completely predictable male behavior. From being around male athletes all of my life, I will tell you with 100 percent certainty that any group of guys together will talk -exactly- like this. They weren't playing up the sexism or the cockiness for the cameras at all, this is exactly the way that men talk when women aren't around! I know a lot of women might disagree with me, or take offense to that, but take it from a guy who has been on sports teams and has hung around jocks all his life. This is the way that guys talk when you all aren't around.

The Tambaquis laughing over the fact that they are competing against girls

By the way, here are some of the most memorable quotes from the first three days at Camp Tambaqui. Read them and weep:

"Right now, baby, we're the favorites right now. Straight up, you know. Physically, we're so much more adapt (sic)."
-Dave "Rocket Scientist" Johnson

"Bottom line is... we're not going home if we lose. Cause we can't."
-Ryan Aiken

"I don't think any of them had any idea that they would be doing this on estrogen alone over there in Camp of the Vagina Monologue."
-Rob Cesternino

"If we lose to these women, man, we are going to be ragged on. Big time"
-Roger Sexton

"Bottom line is... a lot of girls over there are eye candy. And that's great to look at. I appreciate looking at them. Thank you for wearing bikinis. But when it comes down to it, you want people that are going to be useful."
-Ryan Aiken

"There's no way that women are going to beat us in anything. Physically, mentally or whatever. We're never going to go to tribal council."
-Daniel Lue

"I see them all crying and panicking, and trying to build cell phones so they can all call their boyfriends to come over and help them."
-Rob Cesternino

"If we lose to girls it's gonna be rough. It's gonna be real rough."
-Ryan Aiken

So anyway, you can get the kind of mindset the men of Tambaqui had going into the first immunity challenge. They knew they were going to win. They knew it with absolute certainty. Mainly because they knew they wouldn't be allowed to go home if they actually lost. So did the men take the challenge seriously? Did they buckle down and make sure they were intense and prepared enough to defeat the women for immunity?


They spent the morning of day 3 asking Rob's Magic-8 Ball which of the girls would be the easiest to hook up with. All the guys cared about was talking about which girl was the cutest over at Jabaru.

Pre-challenge fun with the 8-Ball

By this time, the writing was pretty much on the wall. You just knew that something embarrassing was going to happen. There was no way the editors would build the guys up into such buffoons if the guys actually won the first challenge. No. Frigging. Way. And already I was beginning to feel a knot in the pit of my stomach.

"Oh crap," I remember thinking to myself, "It's a good thing I'm taping this episode. This one is going to be one for the ages."

The men lining up for the first immunity challenge

The women lining up for the first immunity challenge

Well, lo and behold, I was right. The challenge -did- end up being one for the ages. Because much to my wife's delight, the women ended up winning the first immunity challenge. And I can't even begin to tell you how excited she was when Jaburu ended up winning immunity. Oh my God was that a happy moment in the life of Diana Lanza (and probably millions of other women around the world too.) In fact, she still talks about it to this day. She still talks about how that was the single best moment she has ever seen on the Survivor. And for a woman to say nice things about a tribe that featured Heidi and Jenna, well you know that this moment must have been something special. A female actually rooted for Heidi to succeed, and I don't think that will ever happen again in the history of the universe. But for one episode, Heidi and my wife were right there on the same page. I still can't believe it actually happened.

"It's probably because I'm extremely smart."

So how did the guys lose? Why were they embarrassed so badly? Well the common belief is that they lost when Ryan Aiken and Daniel Lue couldn't cross a balance beam. After all, the guys had a huge lead up to that point, and then Daniel/Ryan blew it by repeatedly falling off while trying to walk across the beam. In fact, I believe that in his CBS chat, Daniel claimed that the guys had something like a 20 minute lead that they subsequently blew with their lack of balance. And most people believe this to be true. Ask almost anyone, and they will say that the girls won the first Amazon immunity because Daniel and Ryan kept falling off of the balance beam.

The men take an early lead as the women (yes, even Heidi) struggle at solving a logic puzzle

The men blow the lead when Ryan and Daniel can't get across a frigging log

The women pass the men on the balance beam

The men look on in disbelief

Daniel and Ryan complete the balance beam with grace and style

But do you know what I say? I say that's B.S. The guys didn't lose the challenge because of the balance beam. Sure, that's where they blew the lead. But that's not where they lost the challenge. The guys lost the challenge because Dave the fricking Rocket Scientist and Rob the fricking computer genius couldn't solve a simple puzzle at the end.

What, you say you don't remember that part? Well see below:

The men catch the women at the last stage, but Dave and Rob can't figure out how to unscramble a puzzle

Jeanne saves the day for the Jaburus

The men of Tambaqui look on in agony

Even though they blew their early lead on the balance beam, the guys actually caught the women at the last stage of the obstacle course. The guys still had a chance to win (even after the balance beam debacle), and it all came down to one last race to unscramble a puzzle. Would it be Dave and Rob for the men? Or would it be Jeanne and crazy Joanna for the women?

Well guess what. The Rocket Scientist and the Computer Guy choked big time and the women blew them away for the challenge win. Rob and the Rocket Scientist weren't even close to a solution (a fact that Jeff needled them about mercilessly) and that was what cost the guys the win.

Jeanne tagged off to Heidi

Heidi slid down the Flying Fox.

And the women pulled off the most memorable challenge win in Survivor history.

Jabaru! Wins Immunity!

To this day, I don't think there has ever been a Survivor moment as memorable as the first Amazon immunity challenge. I mean, that victory was positively historic. The women knew it. Jeff Probst knew it. And the men most definitely knew it. Rob Cesternino wasn't kidding when he later called it "Bobby Riggs versus Billie Jean King for a new millennium." The cocky men had been humbled, the women were euphoric that they had done it, and the producers were probably wetting their pants when they saw what happened in first episode. They couldn't have planned this storyline better if they had tried.

Alex Bell watches the women celebrate

Ryan Aiken hangs his head in shame

Did I think this moment was especially funny? Well as a guy who enjoys irony and a guy who loves a great storyline, I had to admit that it was comic gold. I didn't especially like it, I really wished the guys hadn't choked so badly, but on a certain level I had to admit that... damn... this was a pretty satisfying comeuppance. In fact this wasn't just comeuppance, this was frigging Greek Tragedy comeuppance. This was like the episode of South Park where Scott Tenorman found out that the chili he was eating was made from his own parents. This was revenge to the umpteenth degree.

So I may not have laughed, true, but I had to admit that this was the type of moment that countdown lists like the Funny 115 are made for. And the only way I can end this entry is by quoting my wife's exact reaction when she watched the Jaburus win that first immunity challenge:

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
-Diana Lanza (Feb. 13, 2003)

P.S. Here's a funny anecdote you will enjoy. About four months before Amazon aired, I wrote a story called All-Star Survivor: Alaska. And this was notable because my story was also males versus females, just like the actual Amazon season ended up being a few months later (this was a total coincidence). Anyway in my first episode of Alaska, I wrote the men as being extra cocky and condescending. They totally made fun of the women, they demeaned them at every step, and it was almost -exactly- like the way the guys behaved during the Amazon premiere. In fact some of the comments the guys made were almost word for word the same as I wrote in my story. But the funniest thing was that a bunch of readers wrote me after my Alaska episode premiered and said stuff like "Guys wouldn't talk like that! In this day and age, guys aren't sexist like that anymore. It didn't sound like real dialogue!" Well guess what? Guys really do talk like that. And the Amazon premiere actually made my case for me. So thank you Tambaqui!

P.P.S. In my story, the guys won the first immunity challenge anyway. So there.

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