Introduction and the history of the Funny 115
First off, I just have to say that it's amazing to me that a project that started out so small and so humbly six years ago has somehow now morphed into a sequel to the Funny 115. If you had told me six years ago that I would be doing a second one of these one day, and that I would be doing podcast interviews with people like Rob Cesternino in the winter of 2011, I would have said you were crazy.
For those of you who don't know the history behind the Funny 115, or why this page exists today, or who I even am in the first place, here is the story of the Funny 115, and how (despite all odds) it was eventually spun off into a sequel...
Back in 2005 I decided I was going to retire as a full time "Survivor writer."
I had been cranking out pages and pages and pages of material for the past five years through the website Survivor-Central, and by 2005 I decided I was finally getting burned out on all things Survivor. It just wasn't very much fun to write about anymore. Because to me (in 2005) it seemed like everything that was ever going to happen on Survivor had already happened. I just didn't see any reason to keep writing about it when nothing new was ever going to happen, and if I wasn't really all that interested in the show anymore.
So I "retired" from Survivor writing in 2005.
Before I left, however, I decided I wanted to do one last project. One last farewell project as kind of an epilogue to my writing career. Because there was one idea for a quickie little project that had always been kicking and crawling and roaming around inside my head.
"Wouldn't it be cool if someone made a webpage dedicated to the funniest things in Survivor history?" I remember thinking. Because to be honest, there really was nothing like this back in 2005. Every single webpage or essay dedicated to Survivor on the internet back then was either a fan page, a spoiler page, or was dedicated to talking about the strategy. There really wasn't anything out there that just went over the funny stuff.
Now, I happen to think that Survivor is a hilarious show. I have always thought it was a hilarious show. There had been funny little quotes and scenes and characters on this show that had slayed me for years ("Whoa, cool flying fish!"). But you never really heard anyone ever talk about this stuff. All you ever heard about when you read about Survivor was people talking about the strategy scenes.
So this is how the Funny 115 came about. On my way out as a Survivor writer, I decided, "Well if I'm going to go out, I might as well go out with a countdown dedicated to the 100 funniest things about Survivor. That's something that I bet people will get a kick out of."
Since I wasn't writing for a website anymore at that point (Survivor-Central had shut down in late 2004), the only place I could really write my new Funniest Survivor Things countdown was in the pages of my Myspace blog (trivia: Hey kids, MySpace was a social networking site that once existed in the late 2000's.)
So anyway, there is where my project was born. I posted the first few entries of the Funny 115 (which is what I now called it) in my MySpace blog late one night on some random day in 2006. And of course since this was MySpace, and not a real website, over the next 24 hours I only got like 2 comments as feedback.
"Hey nice work," somebody wrote.
"That's funny," somebody else said.
So anyway, when I say that the Funny 115 started with very humble beginnings, and that I never thought I'd be writing a well publicized sequel to it six years later, now you understand why. All this was was a throwaway project I did as a lark on my way out back in 2005-2006. It was just something I posted slowly and methodically, entry by entry, almost anonymously over the course of a year in my MySpace blog.
At no point ever did it have more than about 200 readers.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when The Funny 115 made the transition from "tiny little throwaway project" to "well known internet Survivor site", but it probably happened sometime around 2008.
Over the next two years (2006-2008), for whatever reason or another, people seemed to remember my Funny 115 countdown. I didn't know why. I didn't even know how most people had even heard about it. But they had. Even though I wasn't writing about Survivor at all anymore, I used to get questions and emails about The Funny 115 all the time.
"Hey Mario," people would write me, "Have you ever thought about turning the Funny 115 into a website? I bet people would love it if you ever created a page for it. I have a lot of friends who would love it, but they don't know how to get to your MySpace blog."
"Hey Mario," my friend Brad would write me, "Have you ever thought of turning the Funny 115 into a coffee table book? I bet if you got hooked up with a publisher, I bet somebody would want to publish it. You might want to look into that, it's really funny."
I would get emails like this pretty much daily.
After about two years of people constantly asking me to turn the Funny 115 into a website, I finally gave in and acquiesced. I was like, fine. Fine, since everyone is asking about it, I will turn it into a website.
I never thought it would turn out to be that big of a deal.
At the time, I just figured that the Funny 115 website would be a cool little page people could stop by if they wanted to remember some their favorite Survivor scenes. I never expected it to ever develop a big audience, or to grow into anything bigger. I just figured it would be a page that maybe a couple of hundred people would read and forget about.
So anyway, that's what happened. Using whatever limited HTML I knew, I threw together a very rudimentary website. And that's how-- in mid 2008-- The Funny 115 became an original standalone web page.
Of course I was way too cheap to go out and actually buy a domain name (thefunny115.com) to go with it. I never thought the page would be popular enough to warrant paying for a domain name. Instead I just dumped it onto my hosting server (acsn2.net) with the rest of my old archived Survivor projects, and that's where it sat.
And that's where I expected it would be fade into obscurity.
You know, a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity...
Almost the minute the Funny 115 became a standalone web page, the emails from people who just discovered it for the first time suddenly came pouring in. There were a lot of them. And I couldn't figure out where they were coming from. I had no idea where people were hearing about the new Funny 115 site, because I hadn't publicized it pretty much anywhere. But people were obviously getting there via word of mouth now, and they were all emailing me pretty much the exact same thing.
"I love it!!!!!" people would email me. "It's the funniest thing I have ever read!!! How come you stopped after Guatemala??!"
Well the reason it stopped after Guatemala, I explained, was because that was the last season that had aired when I sat down to make it. I never intended it to go on after Guatemala. It was intended to be a one time countdown.
"But you have to do another one!!!" people would write me. "You have to include Exile Island! Shane and Casaya were hilarious!!!"
Now this was an argument I had sort of expected that people might use someday. I had always known that if the Funny 115 ever did catch on, the very first thing that was going to happen was that everyone was going to want me to expand it to include later seasons. And I'm sorry, but there was no way that was going to happen. No way. I was done as a Survivor writer. Done. I refused to make this a lifelong project that I would have to update twice a year. It would simply be way too much work.
But here's the problem. Every time I told people that the Funny 115 was a one time thing, and that there was no way I was ever going to update it year after year after year, I would inevitably get the same response.
I would get a very disappointed "Ohhhhhhh. :("
So anyway, this was my life for about three years. People would stumble onto the Funny 115 for the first time, and then they would email me to say that they loved it. And then they would ask me if please oh please oh please could I do updates for the newer seasons.
And you know, as burned out as I was by Survivor, eventually after about three years this argument started to finally get to me.
Eventually all these requests to "please make another one" or "please do updates to the first one" started to gradually wear me down. Because it was overwhelming. There were just too many people asking for it. They were asking about it at Survivor Sucks, they were asking about it on MySpace, they were asking about it on Facebook, they were asking me about it in email-- they were asking about it everywhere.
And it eventually just kind of wore me down.
At a certain point, I finally realized that-- no matter if I actually wanted to do it or not-- a Funny 115 sequel was such a surefire slam dunk idea that I would pretty much be a fool NOT to do one. There was just no way around it. This was what everybody wanted from me.
And, you know, sometimes you just have to give people what they are asking for.
In early 2010 I finally gave in and I bit the bullet.
I went over to the website Survivor Sucks (which, to me, has always been the epicenter of the Survivor fan community) and I announced I was officially announcing a sequel to the Funny 115. I said it would go from Exile Island up through Heroes vs. Villains (which was the most current season at that time). And I asked that if anyone had any favorite nominees they wanted me to look out for when I was researching, to post them here. I said this would be the official Funny 115 version 2.0 discussion thread.
Then I sat down to rewatch Exile Island, and I started to take notes.
Ten months later (and more than 200+ pages of suggestions, nominees and reader ideas later), what you see before you is the new Funny 115.
To be honest, I am amazed and humbled that it even happened at all. But keep in mind that it only did happen because so many Survivor fans requested it over the years. This is a fan created website if ever there was one. In other words, this one is for you guys. Thank you for finally talking me into it.
I will try to post 1-3 new entries a day if I can (depending on my sleep schedule). I only write very late at night though, so don't expect more than 3 entries a day. I write fast, but I don't write that fast.
So anyway, here you go. Welcome to the new Funny 115.
In the end, I hope you are 150-200% satisfied with it.
February 10, 2011
P.S. My favorite email this week? "Hey Mario, are you going to do a third countdown that includes Nicaragua?" *sigh* You just can't win.
Back to The Funny 115 version 2.0