The Funny 115 - The Third One

#101. Phillip!  Shouting gibberish!
Caramoan - episode 5

I know this will shock you, but Survivor has not always been the most culturally sensitive show on TV.

"What??" you might say, in outrage, "Are you saying that one of the whitest shows on TV isn't always sensitive to people from different ethnic groups?  Are you saying that the casting probably should have been a little more diverse over the years, rather than having fourteen white people and then one token black girl and one token young black basketball coach?  Are you saying that they shouldn't have done a season where they divided the players up by race, and then Jeff seemed openly surprised that people from different Asian countries might have different cultures?"

"Are you telling me they shouldn't have done a season called "South Pacific" (which isn't a real place, by the way), and that the only culture they came up with for "South Pacific" was that people in that part of the world apparently have a lot... of... coconuts?"

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.  

Survivor is one of the whitest shows on TV.  They don't even try to hide it.

And what's worse, sometimes the Survivor fan base is even more horrible about it than the show is.

Remember Vecepia, the first black winner of an American reality show?

These morons immediately put her into the Reality TV Hall of Shame

And of course we can't forget that magical moment when a Survivor podcast I am not going to name spent a large portion of their Worlds Apart cast assessment making fun of Will Sims' wife, and the fact that she had a super sassy ethnic black name.

So yes, it is no stretch to say that Survivor (and Survivor fans) have not always been all that sensitive to the minorities in their fan base.  And this isn't really a new problem with the show, either.  You'd think this is something that would have maybe started around the time of, oh, I don't know, maybe around the time they divided the players up by skin color (Cook Islands, season thirteen.)  But if you know your history, you will know this is something that was causing controversy all the way back in the first season.  People who were there in 2000 and who have good memories will probably remember that one of the criticisms of the first season went something along the lines of "So wait, you only cast one black guy on the show?  And he's the only player out there who has like six different kids with like five different mothers?  Seriously??  That is the one token black guy in the cast??  The guy who bangs out illegitimate babies left and right and who hangs out with strippers named Bubbles and Champagne?"

"Where the white women at?"

There is no way around it.  Survivor is, and will always be, one of the whitest shows on TV.

And some of the hashtags they use on the show are just terrible.

But if you want an example of one of the whitest men on the face of the Earth (Jeff Probst) not "getting" black culture, in a way that is embarassing even by Jeff Probst standards(!), well, you've come to the right place.  We now come to the very awkward #101 moment on the countdown.

This one is horrible.  

Get ready to cringe.

It's episode five of Survivor: Caramoan

Today the players will be competing for a barbecue lunch

This is the challenge where you have to hold a net up in the air, and the other players try to throw coconuts into it

The name of this challenge is "A Tribute to South Pacific."

Note:  It was not designed by a Make-A-Wish kid.

Throwing coconuts.  We so have our finger on the pulse of what brown people are doing these days.

The four holders take their turns, and grab on to their ropes.  

It is The Specialist and the Frotteurist for Bikal

Against I Don't Know and I Don't Care for Gota

Seriously.  I literally don't know who this person is.

Why is that sexy net trying to break up my marriage?

So the challenge starts.

Ready!  Go!  Make big moves!

The four net holders try to keep their nets in the air for as long as they can


And now comes the fun part.

The four coconut throwers (aka South Pacificers) come up to the line, and they try to shoot coconuts into the nets

Eddie hits a shot

Brenda hits a shot

Reynolds shoots a coconut like he's my fucking grandmother

Meanwhile Probst is just yammering away in that way that he thinks is so important to every Survivor challenge


And now we come to the part that proves that Probst is essentially The Whitest Man Alive. (tm)

With apologies to Astronaut Dan

Phillip is on net duty during the challenge, and he discovers a neat little trick he can do to distract the Gota coconut throwers.

Basically, he just yells at them

Phillip screams and distracts Eddie, who misses the shot

Well that worked.  That worked really well.  So now Phillip just screams at everyone right before they throw their coconut.

It works every...



Basically, Phillip has figured out a way to outsmart the challenge.

The Sherri Slayer

But it is the thing he yells to distract Sherri that is going to become the focus of this entry.

I like pie.  It is warm and yummy.

Okay, so here comes Sherri up for the first time.  She lines up to throw her coconut.

Phillip gets ready to pounce

She aims...


"Kunta Kinte!"


Now, most people probably know what "Kunta Kinte" means.  Or, rather, WHO it means.  At least, I hope you do.  If you don't, you are probably not going to enjoy this entry.  Although, don't feel bad if you don't know who he is, because this entry isn't about you, it is about Probst.

Kunta Kinte is this guy

Kunta Kinte was the main character in Alex Haley's landmark 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family.  He was an African slave who was kidnapped, and taken to America, and who was later forced to change his name to Toby.  He was also the main character in the 1977 television miniseries Roots, which was watched by something like eleventy billion people, and to this day is still the second most watched finale of any series in American television history.  Basically, Roots is one of those shows that pretty much everyone on the face of the earth has watched at one point or another (either the original or the 2016 remake.)  In fact, in a lot of American schools these days, the book is actually required reading.

In other words, Kunta Kinte was a really big deal.  He was also supposedly based on a real person.  Anyone who is even slightly aware of the portrayals of African-Americans in the media throughout American history would know who Phillip is talking about when he screams out "Kunta Kinte!"

Well, everyone, that is, except for one guy.

"Kunta Kinte!"

"Phillip!  Hollering some sort of war cry!"

Yes, it's that point in the entry when we now get to play the game of "How fucking white is Jeff Probst?"

"The most revered ancestor of my people!"

"Phillip!  Shouting out gibberish!"

"Earl Cole!"

"Phillip!  Shouting some kind of English tea!"

This wasn't originally one of the entries I had planned for the Funny 115.  In fact, I didn't really even write it down in my notes when I was watching Caramoan.  Like a lot of people, I was so bored by most of Caramoan that I basically zoned out for about half of the season.  But I have to give credit to a friend of mine named Kodi Ross, who pushed for this entry for a long time because of how ridiculously funny it is that Jeff Probst (a famed television producer) wouldn't know the biggest character from arguably the biggest TV miniseries in history.  Especially when Survivor is already not especially well known for being all that culturally sensitive or all that nice to its black contestants.  In fact Kodi and I are both amazed that they actually kept this clip in the episode at all, since it doesn't make Probst look especially good, and you know how much power he has over the way the show is presented these days.

"Rosa Parks!"

"Phillip!  Telling us how far apart you are supposed to plant corn!"

"Barack Obama!"

"Phillip!  Impersonating a chicken from Ireland!"

Does Jeff Probst know who Kunta Kinte is?  Or was this just a rare brain fart for a guy who is usually concerned about the way that he comes off on TV?

"Martin Luther King!"

"Phillip, naming some sort of a chess strategy."

In the end, we will never know.   All we do know is that you'd think Probst would be aware of the history of African slavery, since it was such a big move.  And you know how he is about about jacking off over big moves.

Okay, I'm done.  Sorry, that one probably crossed the line.

Let the record show that the author of this page loved Roots, and I love LeVar Burton, and that I thought Probst not knowing who Kunta Kinte is was funny as hell.

And if the rest of the Funny 115 now turns into a contest of "What is the whitest thing Jeff Probst could possibly say?", so much the better.  This is why I love to write these things.


"Phillip!  Yelling out some kind of a Pokemon!"

P.S.  By the way, I love the irony that we finally got a player to be the spokesperson for black history on Survivor, and it winds up being this guy.


P.P.S.  Since this entry turned into "let's make fun of Jeff Probst," how about this quote from a reader of mine named Mark Kalzer:

Hey Mario, make sure to include Probst's quote about how he literally ignores everyone else whenever Phillip is talking.   He basically treats Phillip as if he's the class clown, except usually the teacher despises the class clown. Instead imagine the class clown is also the teacher's favourite, and not at all funny. 

Here is the actual quote Probst once gave in an interview:

"Any time Phillip says anything, anything at all, I’m interested. When he ups the stakes and declares something important or assigns a Stealth R Us name to another tribe mate, I immediately begin to zone out all other distractions."

Translation?   "Everyone else shut up.  Phillip is giving people nicknames."

P.P.P.S.  Okay fine, I can't resist.

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