The Funny 115 - version 2.0

#35.  Askew vs. Orthogonal
Fiji - episode 1

You know, when the first season of Survivor came out in the summer of 2000, the thing that most of America immediately loved about it was the grand sense of adventure.  For most people, the immediate reaction to the first season of Survivor was "Oh my God!  These people are stranded on an island!  They have to eat rats to survive!  They have to catch fish!  How are they going to make it out there??"

That was what most people immediately loved about Survivor.  However, that wasn't what drew in everybody.  For other people, what drew them in to a show like Survivor was the whole strategy aspect of it.  For these other viewers, what immediately hooked them about Survivor was the fact that these people were playing a game, and that the best player was going to win.  To these people, strategy and devious gamesmanship were the only reasons to watch a show like Survivor.  You watched it because you wanted to see smart people all try to out manipulate one another.

Hi. I'm Sean.

However, if you ask me, there was one reason to watch Survivor that I thought was even more addictive and even more amazing.  In fact, from a sociological perspective, it is my opinion that this aspect of the show was the reason that Survivor was such an enormous phenomenon in the first place.

Are you ready for this?

The reason I think Survivor was a huge hit... more than anything else... was because we got to see people who would never even meet each other in real life, all trying to live and communicate with one another.  We got to see what would happen if people who had nothing in common in real life, all of a sudden had to depend on and to trust one another.

For me, this will always be the aspect of the show that drew me in the most.  The weird relationship stuff.   Stuff like the awkward, yet touching, relationship between Richard and Rudy.  I mean, in real life, when would Richard Hatch and Rudy Boesch ever even meet?  In real life, when would they have to depend on one another at all?  For me, this was the thing about Survivor that made it so much more amazing than other shows.  

It was the awesomeness of the random "fish out of water" relationship scenarios.

Rudy and Richard, maybe the most unlikely touching friendship ever seen on TV

Richard and Rudy were the first unlikely friendship in Survivor history, of course (and they are still my favorite).  But they weren't the only ones.  After all, who can forget these other random and unlikely, yet somewhat touching, pairings.  

Only on a show like Survivor would you have an interaction between two totally different types of people like this:

Jew and not a Jew

Sean and The Man

Human and creature

Osten and pelican

Woman and Hershey Bar

Sadly, Survivor doesn't seem to spend much time focusing on these random interactions between totally different people anymore.  And it's a shame, too, because to me this has always been the most interesting aspect of the show.  I mean, yeah, we got Stephen and J.T. in Tocantins, which was a pretty awesome relationship.   And we got Coach and reality, which is always a fun pair when they decide to team up.  But for the most part we really don't get as many random "why the F are these two people even in a scene together???" moments as we did in the first few seasons of Survivor.

Although any scene with Todd and James is an instant classic

However, there was one interaction in Fiji that I thought was particularly memorable.

You want to see a scene where two people who have no business having anything to do with another are trying to communicate?  Want to see one of my favorite "what the hell would these people even say to one another in real life??" interactions?

Well let's go to episode one of Survivor: Fiji.   This was one of the most requested entries on the entire countdown, and for good reason.  It's short, but it cracks me up every single time I watch it.

Oh yeah, and it stars these two people.

Rocky, a thug

And Sylvia, an architect

Now we just sit back and watch the magic unfold...

The day that Sylvia tried to communicate with Rocky

It is episode one of Survivor: Fiji, and the players have just landed on the beach.  That means it is time for strangers to make introductions to one another.

The players find a crate on the beach, which apparently has something valuable inside

So they try to smash it

The big strong guys on the beach all try to bash it open, but no one can do it

El Doucho can't believe it

However, there is one man on the beach who knows how to bash open a crate, and his name is Yao-Ming Yau-Man.

He knows how to do this because, unbeknownst to the other players on the beach (but knownst to us), Yau-Man isn't just some feeble old little man.  He happens to be a world-class science teacher.

"It was simple physics, really.   I knew that the weakest part of the box was the corner, so I just dropped it on its corner."

So Yau-Man takes the crate, and he does what the bigger guys can't.    It only takes one try.

Here is a nice picture of Yau-Man's ass


Yau-Man opens the crate, and inside it are a bunch of pieces of parchment paper.  It turns out that the players are supposed to be building their own shelter.  They have been given materials, blueprints, diagrams, maps, and instructions.

"Hi Earl, I just wanted to warn you about the all-women's alliance on the beach.   They look strong.   Use this idol to save yourself tonight, and to vote for Cassandra.  I think she is the ringleader.  Stay strong, and I'll see you at the merge.  BFFs forever.  -J.T."

At this point, now the question comes up.   If we are supposed to be building our shelter today, who should be the project manager?  Is there anybody on this beach who has prior experience in building a house?

Well hey, guess what?  

Just our luck!  There is!


It turns out that Sylvia Kwan is an architect.  She builds houses for people in real life.

With that knowledge in mind, the players turn the entire project over to Sylvia.  It is her job now to bark out instructions to everyone.

"There was a site plan.  And being an architect, of course, I was, uh, given all the maps."

"And said, here you figure out what to do."

Building materials

Sylvia and company start planning the project

Lumber carrying time

"The kitchen's gonna be right there."

"The outhouse will be over there."

Sylvia displays her authority by goose stepping around the build site

Yau-Man tries to look down Sylvia's shirt.  Science!

So anyway, with Sylvia in charge, and her loyal band of builders following her every instruction, that is when we come to the #35 entry on the Funny 115.

Here is a great little interaction between Sylvia (a genius architect with an architect's vocabulary) and Rocky (who has a limited vocabulary, and probably spends most of his day teabagging Anthony.)  

Why these two people were ever in a scene together, I will never know.  But they did have one interaction, and it was a classic.

Sylvia tells her dig squad to get working

Rocky recognizes the word "dig," and volunteers

So the dig squad starts working.  

A few minutes later, Sylvia comes over and she notices a problem with their work.

Rocky, of course, has never heard this particular word before.

"Is, uh... is what?"

Well that certainly doesn't help.

"Alright, here's what's gonna happen."

"Whenever there's a big word in a sentence, we're all gonna have a time out and teach James the big word."

Sylvia is amused by this.  However, she will try her best to dumb it down for him.

So she explains.


"There's another big word James doesn't know."

Sylvia laughs

So anyway, there you go.  One of my favorite interactions between people who have no business ever interacting at all.  

Sylvia uses a fancy architectural term that someone like James would never know, and then when her asks for a definition, she "dumbs it down" by saying it is the opposite of another fancy architectural term that someone like James would ever know.   Just a classic interaction between two character who barely even exist in the same universe.

Oh, and if you are curious, here is the Webster's Dictionary definition for orthogonal.  You know, for those of us who aren't Yau-Man, Heidi, or Sylvia:

From Webster's Dictionary:  

adj.  \ȯr-ˈthä-gə-nəl\

a : intersecting or lying at right angles
b : having perpendicular slopes or tangents at the point of intersection <orthogonal curves>
c:  not askew

Oh, and here is the layman's definition:

I love Survivor until the words start.  God damn the words.  It's always the words.

P.S.   I didn't notice this right away, one of my readers had to point it out to me, but there is a great moment early on in this scene (it happens right when they arrive on the beach) that will make you laugh every single time if you are listening for it.  

The Survivors get to the cave, and they are looking around to see what types of things are available to them, and if you listen really closely you can hear Yau-Man say "I FOUND A LEMON TREE!"


Now, on paper, this line isn't really all that funny.  But I swear to God, if you hear Yau-Man actually say it, you will just bust out laughing.

The reason this line is so funny is because it is obviously an overdub, and because it doesn't quite -sound- right.   To me it sounds like they slowed down Yau-Man's voice digitally.  But for some reason, they didn't slow it down very accurately.   So when Yau-Man just randomly screams out "I found a lemon tree!" it sounds like Kermit the Frog trying to do a Yau-Man impression.  

Swear to God, listen for this if you ever watch episode one of Fiji.   Listen for Kermit the Frog randomly yelling "I FOUND A LEMON TREE!" and tell me that isn't one of the funniest things you have ever heard in your life.


P.P.S.  I sure hope Yau Man uses this as his Facebook profile picture.  We should start a petition.

The best of Yau-Man

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