The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor
#44. Mike Skupin - Psychopath
Australia - Multiple Episodes
When people think about Mike Skupin, they usually only remember him as "the guy who fell into the fire." I mean, that's pretty much a no-brainer, isn't it? If a guy takes a header into a firepit, and has to be evacuated out of the game, that's what people are going to remember. You just don't get much more distinct or memorable than that.
It's a shame, however, that the firepit is the only thing that Mike is known for. Because in my personal opinion, he had a lot more going on than that. In fact I think it is safe to say that Mike Skupin was one of the most entertaining players in the history of Survivor. I truly believe that (like Rupert a few seasons later) he could have carried the Australia season pretty much all on his own.
And why do I believe this?
Easy. Because Mike is one of the few Survivors in history that I think might have been legitimately crazy.
Sure, everyone remembers Mike and the fire. But nearly everybody forgets the fact that Mike was completely nuts up to that episode! Don't you remember that? The guy was crazy! In fact, other than Matthew von Ertfelda, I can't remember a player being more crazy than Mike during the first five episodes of Australia. And yes, that even includes Shane from Exile Island. Sure, Shane did some crazy stuff, and sure Shane did some outrageous things, but could he really even compare to Skupin Gone Wild?
Did Shane ever hunt down and butcher a pig?
Did Shane ever smear the blood from said pig all over his face afterwards?
Did Shane ever publicly thank God for anointing him the leader of the tribe?
Did Shane have a crazy, hitching George McFly-style laugh?
Did Shane ever acquire a reputation as "a guy who loves to eat eyeballs"?
I think not, my friends. Shane might have been crazy. And Shane might have been unstable. But Shane was no Mike Skupin.
Not even close.
So anyway, here are Mike Skupin's Top Five psychopath moments during Australia. It's not as big a list as I would have liked, but keep in mind that Mike was only around for six episodes. And one of those episodes doesn't count because he was drugged and flying around in a helicopter.
Yes, Mike went out with a bang. And yes, Mike became one of the most sympathetic players in the show's history. But up to that point he had been an entertaining, genuinely likable, somewhat unstable, psychopath. We really didn't know where he was coming from... yet we really wouldn't have wanted him any other way.
So good on ya, pig killer.
~~~ THE TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM SURVIVOR: SKUPIN ~~~
1. Mike is a guy who spends a lot of time camping in real life. Thus he automatically considers himself to be the food provider for the Kucha tribe, as well as being the go-to guy on matters like shelter construction and general survival know-how. So Mike more or less considers himself the leader of the Kuchas, even if the rest of the tribe might not agree with that.
Anyway, the disparity between how Mike sees himself... and how the rest of the tribe sees him... becomes very apparent at the start of the second episode. Because this is when Mike sits down to lead the tribe in a pre-dinner prayer. And... well... it's not pretty.
This is possibly the clumsiest speech anyone has ever given in the history of Survivor. And it's so cringe-worthy that it is almost painful to listen to. Just keep in mind that Mike is being 100 percent serious here, and that makes the whole thing even funnier. Mike is actually saying these words to the rest of his tribe (though they are cleverly disguised as a prayer to God):
"Dear God, you know I said a lot of prayers today and you answered them with fish for us. And I'm so happy to be able to provide fish for the troops. I know that this could easily get turned around in some way to make me be the leader of the tribe... but this meal is from the bottom of my heart. It makes me so happy to be able to provide for everybody here. So, thanks for that."
Kimmi: "Mike thanked God for making him the leader of the tribe. I don't know when he was anointed, but apparently my back was turned at that moment."
2. Mike tends to make a big production out of things, especially when it's something he has done that he wants others to know about. In other words, Mike is considered to be extremely self-centered. Above all else, he is very big on publicizing Mike. And this annoying self-centered trait leads to one of my favorite confessionals of the season, from the master of the snarky confessional himself, Jeff Varner. Jeff just isn't a very big fan of Mike, you see. Never has been. And he explains to us why, below:
"When other people catch a fish, they just catch a fish. But when Mike catches it there are trumpets that blare and angels that sing. And you know, everybody's gotta sit down and gather 'round him and hold his hands and watch him carve it out."
Gathering around to hold Mike's hands
3. The Mike-Jeff feud heats up in episode three when Mike declares his intentions to catch a pig. Mike is hungry. Mike wants to catch a pig. And the rest of the tribe isn't sure what to think about this. Especially after Mike straps the tribe's only knife to a bamboo pole and declares that it is now his "hunting spear."
Mike loves him some spear
This is the point in the game where Jeff really starts to lay into the guy. Jeff absolutely can't stand Mike. And he starts telling us this on a daily basis.
(By the way, I always loved this aspect of Australia. I love how Jeff and Mike had this big feud going on, only Mike had no clue it even existed. Mike was always off somewhere in happy land. But I have always loved one-sided feuds when one of the parties isn't even aware that it is going on. Things like that always make me laugh on Survivor.)
So anyway, here's Jeff. And he gives us one of the most famous quotes of the season:
"The spear, the spear, the stuuuupid spear. That's classic Mike, he's an idiot."
4. So Mike now has a mission in life. He is bound and determined to catch a pig. Nobody on his tribe believes he can do it (except God, of course), but that's not going to stop Mike. He just lays low with his spear, and he waits...
And he waits...
Mike is able to wait patiently until the fateful day that Nick spots a pig down by the water. Nick comes back to alert the camp, he casually mentions that there is a pig down by the stream, Mike catches wind of this... and the hunt is on!
Here comes Mike! Running across the campsite with his knife!
That'll do, pig.
After a bloody struggle, a victor emerges. And he lets loose a George McFly laugh in the spirit of triumph.
Mike smears the pig's blood on his cheeks. He wants to wear this to the immunity challenge to psyche out the Ogakors.
5. Nobody can believe that Mike just killed a pig. And it's not that they didn't believe he wanted to kill a pig, it's more along the lines that they thought he was sort of a doofus. They just didn't think he could pull it off. Nobody thought he would be crazy enough to actually go through with it.
Nick reacts to seeing the pig murder scene
Alicia and Elisabeth react in horror
Varner can't believe what he's seeing
Even though they now think he's nuts, this act of pig butchery somehow gives Mike a new reputation among his Kucha teammates. He is no longer just a self-centered egotist who loves to get attention. No, now he is a crazy self-centered egotist who loves attention, loves killing things, and loves copious amounts of blood smeared on his face. And somehow this makes him more endearing.
Mike's newfound status among the Kuchas (after the pig kill) is summed up nicely by Jeff Varner, who officially designates Mike as "tribe mascot" in the following speech:
"I just wanna chop Ogakor up and take out their eyeballs so Mike can eat 'em."
So anyway that's the story of Mike Skupin. Well at least the fun part of the story. Yes, he was the guy who fell into the fire in episode six, but you can't ignore all the stuff that he did before that in the first five episodes. Mike was literally the first crazy person in the history of Survivor, and he inspired just the right amount of loathing/fear/respect in his tribesmates to more or less make him a Survivor legend.
Mike also happens to be the first player in Survivor history to force CBS to show a "Warning: Parental Advisory" message before a segment of the show. And if that isn't something to write in your obituary someday, I don't know what is. In fact... here is some fun Survivor trivia... Mike didn't just inspire one "graphic images" warning, he was actually responsible for two of them! CBS showed a parental advisory warning before the scene in which he killed a pig, and then again before he fell into the fire. So Mike isn't just responsible for the first parental advisory warning in Survivor history. He is actually responsible for the first two! Way to go, Mike!
There has never really been another player like Mike "The Killer" Skupin. He may not have been the most popular player of all time, but I guarantee that you remember just about every scene he was ever in. And if that's not the sign of a Survivor All-Star, I don't know what is. Mike was a legend even before he fell face-first into the fire. And I would have loved to see where his story would have ended on its own. I actually think it might have ended with the death of Jeff Varner. You never know. But in any case, it would have been a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
In summary, Shane Powers may have been a crazy person during Exile Island, but let it be known that Mike remains the only Survivor in history to inspire two separate parental advisory warnings. He also remains the only player to hunt down and kill a wild mammal. And the only reason Mike didn't do it twice is because Kucha (or the producers) probably took away his knife.
In other words... Shane's crazy, but he doesn't even rate on the same scale. Mike would skin him and eat him alive.
And he would probably start with the eyeballs.
P.S. Yes, Mike's antics frightened CBS, but he's not the only Survivor to ever warrant a "graphic content warning" from the network. Richard Hatch also inspired a parental advisory when he did naked grinding against Sue during All-Stars. Although in my personal opinion I feel that CBS wussed out with the Richard warning, because that was nothing compared to a dead pig and Mike's hands being burned off. And, alas, those are the only three times the show has ever given a parental advisory before they aired a scene. But just let it be known that... to this day... Mike Skupin is still responsible for 67% of the "graphic content" warnings in Survivor history. Go Mike!
P.P.S. Mike also happens to be my favorite "retroactively popular" Survivor in the show's history. You see, up to the point that he fell in the fire, nobody could really stand the guy. Everybody in the audience and on the Kuchas wanted Mike to be gone, gone, gone. But after Mike burned his hands? Why he turned into the beloved martyr leader of the Kuchas! In fact the Kuchas kissed so much Mike butt after episode six that both Colby and Tina claimed in their final jury speeches that Mike should have been there in the final two. Shyeah, right! There's no way Mike would have ever been in the final two. Not a chance in hell. None of the Kuchas wanted to see him there. Yet somehow they deluded themselves into thinking he was their fearless leader once he was burned and out of the game for good.
The absolute goofiest quote on this topic came from Jeff Varner, who was easily the biggest Mike critic for the first five episodes. Because at the end of episode six, Jeff sat down to poignantly tell us that they were going to win the game for Mike now. They were going to chew Ogakor up, they were going to spit them out, and...
"... And that's the way Mike would have wanted it."
Yeah, whatever Varner. You retroactive ass-kisser. Two days ago you were calling Mike a retard with a poke-stick. Nice try.
P.P.P.S. You knew it was coming. Here is my personal list of other Survivor moments that should have carried a "disturbing content warning" before we actually saw them on TV. All of these were shown without the slightest heads-up from CBS ahead of time, and I think there might have actually been some casualties:
* Kim Johnson strips in Africa to reveal a thong. Personally I thought she looked pretty good for her age, but nearly everybody will ream me if I leave this one off the list, so here it is. If you are into GILFs, enjoy.
* The Amazon immunity challenge where the two tribes have their hands tied behind their back as they try to rip hunks of meat off a large bone. My wife can barely even watch this one. It's just disgusting. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, that is "some fucked up repugnant shit."
* Lisa from Vanuatu is climbing up a coconut tree and her big old breast implants squeeze out the sides of her bikini top. It's like watching a sausage trying to squeeze into a pork casing. Um... no. Look away!
* Any scene with Clay Jordan loudly (and obviously) lusting after C.C. Heidik in Thailand. That thought brings up a whole host of disturbing images in my mind. Ugh. Not good at all. Although on the plus side, at the very least we never actually saw his erection.
* Any scene with Judd eating.
* Astronaut Dan takes off his shirt in Exile Island and reveals the most blindingly white torso in the history of mankind. Ye gods! I thought astronauts went closer to the sun, not further away!
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