The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#7. Osten versus the Pelican
Pearl Islands - Episode 6

You know, the first time I saw this moment it really didn't register with me as being all that funny. In fact I barely even remembered it the first time I sat down to write about Pearl Islands. For whatever reason, "Osten and the Pelican" never really resonated with me the way it resonated with most people. And to this day it's a mystery that I have never fully been able to unravel.

Why didn't Osten's mortal fear of a pelican make me laugh when it first happened? I don't know. Maybe I had just grown so accustomed to him being frightened of nature that I had grown numb to the comedic potential of it all. Or maybe I just felt sorry for the guy. After all, it's not every season when you have a 200-pound bodybuilder come thiiiiiiis close to dying in each of the first six episodes. Because that truly was Osten Taylor's Survivor legacy, when you get right down to it. He was the guy who was scared to death of Mother Nature. And the guy who was completely unprepared to live 39 days in the jungle.

Oh sure, most people remember him as "the guy who quit Survivor." But to me he's so much more than that. To me, Osten Taylor has always been "the guy who repeatedly cheated death in the first six episodes."

And that's why he's an obvious choice for the Funny 115.

See for yourself.

Osten (right) leaping into the air when a leaf touches his leg

Osten telling us he panics if he feels the slightest movement against his body in the dark

Osten falling out of a boat

Osten looking wary of a squirrel

Osten nearly drowning

Gravity sucks Osten into a hole

Right before the wall came crashing onto his head

The stick snapped and impaled him just seconds later

Trapped in a bush. Unable to escape.

Osten Taylor was probably the most ill-prepared player the game of Survivor has ever seen. He had no ability to co-exist with nature, he had no idea how to handle nature... in fact actually he seemed to be terrified of nature. Osten was scared of crabs, he was scared of snakes, he couldn't swim. Heck, I'm not even sure he was all that comfortable with rain. Why he even wanted to go on Survivor is beyond me. But luckily for us (and the gods of comedy everywhere), he did. Osten ended up on Survivor, he gamely threw his temple to the forces of nature, and then he very nearly died of gangrene the first day.

And then he quit.

Oh well.

My temple hurts

If Osten hadn't quit, do you think he might have actually gotten killed at some point? Would Mother Nature have had the temerity to actually finish the poor sap off? I don't know. I'd say the odds are around 50/50. I do know that his death would have been particularly unspectacular if it had happened. Osten Taylor wouldn't have gone out in a blaze of glory, like from a rattlesnake bite, a fatal fall from a tree, or a shark attack. No, if Osten had died on Survivor it would have been from something much more embarrassing. He would have accidentally strangled himself with his own shorts. Or he would have fallen into the urinal. Or he would have spontaneously combusted. No matter what the cause, Osten's hypothetical Survivor death would have been tragic, it would have been embarrassing, yet at the same time it would have been strangely comedic. And there's no doubt it would have nabbed the #1 spot on the Funny 115.

Little know fact: Osten actually did die on day three in Pearl Islands. Paramedics later revived him.

By the way, back when I used to write a weekly column for Survivor-Central, I had a fun time keeping track of all the ways Osten "cheated" death in every Pearl Island episode. I kept a running tally every week, and I tried to be as creative as I possibly could. And a lot of readers told me this was the funniest thing I ever wrote. So anyway, here is an excerpt from my Pearl Islands column back in 2002. These are all the way that Osten "Jack Bauer" Taylor escaped potential death in episode six of Survivor: Pearl Islands. This is word-for-word from my weekly column back at Survivor-Central.

... speaking of Osten, I would like to personally congratulate him on surviving another harsh episode in the Pearl Islands. For the SIXTH (!) consecutive week, he managed to survive and not meet a tragic fate at the hands of Mother Nature. And just to show how monumental a feat this was, Diana and I have put together a list of the ways Osten COULD have died this week, but didn't. Here we go:

- Pelican could have eaten him
- Pelican could have charged him and given him a heart attack
- Could have gotten a splinter from bamboo pole used to poke pelican. Splinter could have then become infected and caused heart stoppage
- Pelican could have gored him after being poked by pole
- Could have severed artery while sharpening machete
- In fact, we can touch on any number of ways the machete could have been dropped or mishandled or otherwise become a lethal weapon
- The cannon in the reward challenge could have blown up in his face
- Could have accidentally shot self with cannon
- Could have burned self alive while lighting cannon
- While loading cannon, he looked DIRECTLY INTO THE BARREL of said cannon. Needless to say, don't do that, Osten.
- Could have shattered wrist while knocking fists with Andrew
- If Morgan had won reward, could have contracted E.Coli from the steak
- If Morgan had won reward, the lobster spines were extra pointy. They could have severed a jugular.
- Grill accidents galore would have been possible had Morgan won reward
- The lobster was packed in ice, which could have caused severe frostbite if mishandled
- During the immunity challenge, his neck could have snapped like a twig from that wooden beam
- Humiliation from being beaten by Christa could lead to shock-induced coma

Needless to say, Osten again put his health on the line for the purposes of entertaining us. And entertain us you did, Mr. Taylor. So here's to hoping you will make it through the seventh episode in one piece! *crosses fingers and bites lip, nervously*)

Osten does not find this amusing

So anyway that's Osten Taylor's legacy in Survivor history. Yeah, true, he was the guy who actually quit the game, but that's not all that important in the big picture. After all, he probably should have quit Survivor, all things considered. It's not every player who almost drowns in the ocean (during a challenge!) And once that happened, Osten probably knew he had to get while the gettin' was good. He had to get out of the game while he still had most of his temple, and he especially had to get out prior to episode eight, when he was destined to be crushed to death by a falling coconut. Yes, I knew it was going to happen. Don't ask.


So anyway what I am saying is please don't hold Osten's decision to quit against him. You and I both know it was probably for the best.


By the way, before we wrap this entry up, you might be asking... what was Osten's lowest moment during Pearl Islands? Well for my money it has to be his battle with Pelican Pete in the 6th episode. And by "battle", of course I mean "the time when the pelican scared Osten and made him wet his pants." There's no way this wasn't Osten's lowest moment during Survivor: Pearl Islands. I just don't see any way a player can possibly get any lower than the day he loses a staredown to a harmless little pelican.

Osten jabs at the pelican with a stick. Stay away!

(Note: Picking "the lowest Osten Survivor moment" is sort of like picking "the sluttiest Britney Spears video." In other words it's almost impossible to do.)

So here is Osten's showdown with Pelican Pete, in all its ridiculous glory. I'm still embarrassed to admit that I didn't remember it the first time I sat down to write about Pearl Islands. In fact a lot of readers had to remind me about this scene, and how funny it was, before they really sold me on this being a Top 10 Funniest Survivor Moment. I suppose I had just seen too much Osten suffering by that point, so the image of a 200-pound bodybuilder fleeing in terror from a dreaded pelican just didn't resonate with me. Why? I don't know. Normally I would have found this to be the funniest thing in the world. Yet for whatever reason the readers of my column had to convince me that this was an awesome scene.

How did people convince me of this? Easy. They just flooded my inbox with a deluge of "Osten and the Pelican" jokes. They did it for weeks, and wouldn't let up, until I finally admitted that this was one of the ten funniest Survivor moments of all time. And I've always thanked them from the bottom of my heart for doing this. My readers really made me see the light on this one. And I can't believe I had been blind about this topic for so long.

So thanks, guys.

Osten looks skeptical. Do I smell pelican coming up in the next paragraph?



Pelican Pete, who has been responsible for approximately 0 human deaths over the recorded course of time

The pelican lands near Osten

Well, Osten isn't cool with that. In fact, he's a little scared of pelicans. So he wanders off to get away from it. He decides to go sit in the shelter instead.

The pelican wanders over towards the shelter and Ryno (an animal lover) starts petting it. Now the pelican starts to feel welcome.

Osten looks concerned. Is that thing coming over here??

This is my favorite picture. Tijuana is thrilled by their new pet, while Osten appears to be... well... not so thrilled. I love the expression on his face.

The pelican edges a little closer, and now Osten starts to become alarmed. So he grabs a stick to use as protection.

"Why would you want this thing in here?"

Osten is petrified by this point. And now he starts to make threats. "I'm serious. I'll go and get my machete and chop this thing's head right the fuck off. I'm not playing around."

The pelican isn't leaving, so Osten decides he's going to leave instead. Meanwhile Andrew and Tijuana are cracking up.

Headin' for the hills

Osten hides in the back of the shelter, as far away from the pelican as he can possibly get

The pelican won't leave, so Osten decides to take drastic measures instead. Now he starts sharpening his machete...

Ryno isn't down with seeing a dead pelican. So he starts escorting the little guy away from camp, before Osten can snap and cut its head off.

Almost there

Ahhh. Safe at last. A boy and his pelican.

Osten, of course, soon dies from a massive coronary

"I think it's hilarious that Osten's scared of every little thing. He's scared of every little bug."

Osten's take on why he is scared of every single animal that exists in nature?
"I don't like animals. I been bit by a couple of animals. And the next one that bites me is going to die."

P.S. I can actually pinpoint the exact moment that I realized that "Osten and the Pelican" was an untapped comedic scene that I wasn't giving enough respect. It happened right after All-Star, when I announced that I was "retiring" as a Survivor columnist. I wanted to hand over my weekly column to one of my readers (kind of like Willy Wonka with his chocolate factory), so I came up with a contest called "The S-C Apprentice." Basically I gave the contestants a bunch of writing challenges, designed to test their knowledge of the show, their writing style, and their sense of humor. The winner of the contest would get to take over my Survivor column starting with Vanuatu.

The very first challenge in the contest was called "The Loser's Millions." This was a takeoff on "The People's Millions" contest that CBS held during the All-Star Reunion (that Rupert inevitably won.) I thought it would be funny if less-than-successful Survivor players had actually made pleas for the audience to give them the million dollar check instead of giving it to Rupert. It cracked me up to think that people like Peter Harkey, Kel Gleason and Carl Bilancione would have also taped pleas, asking for the money instead of Rupert. So I had each writer in the contest write up a fake plea from a less-than-successful Survivor, asking for the viewing audience to give them the million dollar prize. Like I said, this was the very first challenge in my "S-C Apprentice" contest. I told the writers right off the bat that the most ridiculous and funny arguments were going to be the best.

So what was the first entry that came filtering into my in-box? It was a plea from Osten Taylor, telling America that he needed the money so he could build an anti-pelican bubble. I started giggling when I read it. And then the second "plea" came in. And this one was also from Osten Taylor. It said that if he won the money, he could build himself a mansion that would forever protect him from nature for the rest of his life.

Well needless to say a lot of Osten pleas came rolling in. And nearly every one of them made some reference to either A) Pelicans, B) Nature, and/or C) The lifetime avoidance of either pelicans or nature. And at that point I realized I had underestimated the comedic potential of Osten and his mortal fear of the dreaded pelican. After all, when nearly 30% of the entries in my contest in some way referred to Osten, I knew that this was a guy who stood tall and proud in the world of Survivor comedy.

And that's why he grabs the coveted #7 spot on the Funny 115.

P.P.S. "... I will use the money to build an anti-pelican bubble." Ha ha ha ha ha.

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