The Funny 115 - The Third One

#57.  Probst No-Sells Max
Worlds Apart - episode 5


If there is one thing that has changed when it comes to Survivor over the past fifteen years, it is that, these days, the show loves to cast superfans.




Every season, it seems like all you hear among the internet crowd these days is, wow who is this superfan they pulled off the internet who is going to represent us?  Who is this hardcore Survivor nerd who is going to speak for all the fans out there who love the show, but who never get a chance to play?

Take your pick

But here's the thing.  

Yes, there are a lot of superfans on the show these days.  

And yes, some of them have even managed to win Survivor, and to do some amazing things.

Cochran (off camera, far right)

But for the most part, I don't believe that "winning" is why the producers like to cast them.

The original O.G. failed superfan.  Respect.

I know a lot of people who have had connections to Survivor (or who were actually on Survivor) over the years.   I talk to a lot of insiders.  And if there is one thing I have heard, over and over again, when it comes to so many Superfans being cast on the show, it is this:  

They weren't cast because the producers wanted them to succeed.  

They were cast because the producers (especially Probst) wanted to embarrass them.

And that brings us to the subject of today's entry, Professor Max Dawson.


Among people who were fans of Survivor before they were cast on the show, Max is pretty much the king of the hill.  Not only was he was a fan, he was actually an UBERfan.  Which, according to Lex back in Africa, means "the ultimate."

The Ultimate

Max wasn't just a guy who knew everything that had ever happened on Survivor.  No, he actually taught a class on Survivor.  At an esteemed university (Northwestern).  Professor Max was the guy other fans went to when they wanted to know even MORE about Survivor.

I should also add that, on a personal level, I knew Max long before he was ever cast on Survivor.  Why?  Well because I'm a nerdy superfan too.  I'm a huge Survivor dork just like the rest of you.  Of COURSE I would have known who Max was.  Max Dawson was the guy you went to if you wanted to know anything and everything about Survivor or Survivor history.  Even I, who never left the safety of my mom's basement, was aware of that.

Max paying homage to the Matsing tribe in Philippines

So here's this guy who is the walking, talking epitome of Survivor superfandom.  

And of course at some point he gets cast on the show.

Max explaining why Michelle Tesauro is ten percent better than Linda Spencer

And then of course not only does he fail at Survivor, hard...

... he also gets maybe the worst edit I have ever seen a player get in modern Survivor.  

To the point that an entire episode is dedicated to how gross and disgusting his feet are

If you ever wanted an example of how Probst and the producers giveth to the Superfans, and how they taketh away, you need look no further than the absolute shitting on they do to Professor Max.  

Hey nerd, you suck!

Also, the fans aren't gonna vote for you, either.

Go to hell

Max might not have been a particularly significant character in Worlds Apart.  Hell, when it comes to a season with that many big memorable characters, he was basically about as relevant to anything as Posh Spice.  

The lonesome hipster

Max might not have been a particularly successful Survivor player.  He might not have been a particularly memorable Survivor player.  I doubt there was ever a point where you found yourself sitting there thinking, boy, do you know who I hope does well this season?  Max.

But you know, there WERE a couple of things that were fun about him.  

I think I will delve into those now.

For starters, how about this scene where he shoves Shirin aside to go work on a puzzle.  LIKE A BOSS.

Which he later recreated in some sort of a coffee shop.  This will always make me laugh.

And how about those tributes he was always doing to former Survivors?

You know the obvious ones, like this pantsless tribute to Richard Hatch

Or that time he and Shirin threw out inside references to Tarzan

And of course who could miss this obvious tribute to Osten?

Max did so many tributes during his five episodes of Worlds Apart that it's amazing most fans never caught the majority of them.

Luckily for you, that's why I'm here.  :)

Let's see how many of these other... more obscure tributes... you might have caught in the episodes.

Obvious Chad is obvious

Here he looks up at the exact same angle Trish Dunn looks up in episode four of Pearl Islands.  It's incredible.

Here he does Hali pledging allegiance

Dan Foley being wrong at a puzzle

Still not convinced that Max was playing some sort of genius meta superfan game out there?  Well there's more!

Here he pulls off the classic Von Ertfelda head tilt

The editors even got in the action with this one

Tribute to Debb

See?  And you thought Max wasn't very fun.

Tribute to Shane

Okay, besides the tributes, there were lots of fun things about Max.

Most of them were...

They were...


Ah, fuck it.  Let's just post more fake Survivor tributes.

Here he does an impression of Mat Elrod

And here's a quick tip of the cap to Shirin

Max pays tribute to Frankenstein

Here he is as Probst kissing Boston Rob's ass

Okay.  I know, I know.  I've probably run this joke into the ground.  It's not like any of these are all that amazing.

Oh shit, it's his tribute to All Stars

A second tribute to Chad

Look out, Joaquin!  He's about to do Silas!

God damnit, Max.  You are savage.

Max's impression of Sandra

His tribute to Jesus

Here he recreates the opening of Pearl Islands

Here he references Scout by pretending to be Native American

Okay, I think I've had enough fun with that.  Moving on.

So anyway, there's this scene in episode five where...

Bloody hell, and there's his tribute to Kim Spradlin

And his impression of Wes

His tribute to Freud

And we mustn't forget his commitment to doing Robb Zbacnik

Okay, I'm done.

Actually, two more.  

Then I'm done.  

I promise.

An impression of Brian Heidik acting in a porn movie



So anyway, Max knows a lot about Survivor history.

But it's really his exit at the end of episode five where we get the Max moment that made me laugh the hardest.

Max leaving?  That sure makes ME smile.

Okay, if you don't remember the backstory, let me catch you up to speed so you can appreciate this moment.

Basically, Max sucked for five episodes, and the edit made fun of him repeatedly.  And then he sucked some more, and then he got a wart, and then Probst visibly hated him, and then he got voted out.  And then the Survivor world laughed at him.

Okay there you go.  Now you can appreciate his final Survivor moment.

It's the end of episode five, and Professor Max is about to be voted out

And he knows it

And of course, the show is going to take one last final dump on him before they can wrap up their humiliation of him.

Max, why do you suck so much?  And please, provide examples.

Max makes a comment about how he is very active in real life.  And how he has to do mandatory relaxation exercises if he ever wants to calm down.

And of course Probst jumps on this like a kid playing hopscotch.

"I have to make myself relax.  Or I just won't."

"So wait, you do MANDATORY relaxation exercises?"

Here, Probst does his own tribute.

His tribute to how many episodes this dork lasted on Survivor

Max goes on to explain that it sounds like masturbation, but it's really not

Please kill me

And now we get Max's last stand.  

Which is one of those moments that was so awkward and SO cringey, that it was a lock for the Funny 115 the moment I saw it.

Take it away, Professor

Okay, so the dust is all settled now.  

Everyone (including the producers) has spent five consecutive episodes doing everything they can to dump on the superfan.  

At this point, there's nothing left to say.

"I don't know my mom's cell phone number.  But I do know what happened at the swap in One World."

All that's left at this point is to vote him out of the game.

Jeff Probst is so moist

And so here we go.

It's time for the vote reveal.

"If anybody has a hidden immunity idol and you wanna play it..."

And... what's this?

Max stirs and reaches into his bag

"Hey Jeff.   Hold up, bro."


And now... the standoff ensues.

And then, finally, after Max milks the moment for as long as he can, he decides to come clean. 

It was all just a big joke.

"I just always wanted to say that."

And if you ever wanted evidence that Probst hated Max Dawson, the Survivor superfan, here you go.

This is maybe the greatest Survivor no-sell of all time.

It is also presented in real time.

And then, FINALLY, after a few agonizing seconds of silence...

Mandatory relaxation exercise

".... okay."

"Once the votes are read, the person voted out must leave the Tribal Council immediately."

"I'll read the votes."

Nailed it

And with that, we say goodbye to the greatest Survivor beard since Sash's girlfriend.

Dragon slayed

Max, delete your account

Oh yeah, and what's the last image we see right after Max is voted out of the game?

Jenn, of course, who is laughing at him

And so that's the sad, sordid tale of Professor Max Dawson.  The biggest superfan of them all.  Who wanted to go on the show and play the game he loved so very much, and make a difference, but in the end he basically turned into the Worlds Apart equivalent of Posh Spice.  He wound up being useless, forgettable, not good at anything, unrelatable, and irrelevant.  And on top of that, all the show did was make fun of him for five straight episodes.  I don't know about you, but if I were Max, I would think maybe the whole thing sucked.

Has legs.  Knows how to use them.

But at the same time, you also have to look at the bright side.  I mean, Max was on Survivor.  I was certainly never on Survivor.  Were you on Survivor?  Of course not.  Unless you are Cochran or Sophie or Eliza, and you are reading this entry, odds are you are just some random superfan like me who loves Survivor and loves watching it, and loves reading about it on the internet, and that's about as close as you'll ever get.  But Max got past that.  He actually got invited onto the show.

Of course, the show later humiliated him and went out of its way to embarrass him, but hey let's just remember the first part.  The first part is better.  Max got onto the show.

That's closer than most of us will ever get.  You know?

Fuck off, superfans

At the end of the day, I'm not sure we really needed to see more of Max on TV than we wound up seeing.  I'm not sure there was ever any potential as a character there that didn't get tapped.  But at the same time, hey, at least he got to pull off one last Survivor tribute as his final moment on the show.  How dare you think I wasn't going to end the entry with this one.

"Hey bro, hold up..."

"... 'cause I wrote a poem."

Fuckin' superfans.

P.S.  I actually asked Max once what was going through his head during "Hold up, bro."  What made him decide to do that?  And guess what?  It turns out it WAS actually a reference to something.

I swear I didn't make this one up.  

These are his exact words.

"When I was on the show I was dating the girl who made the "Hold Up Bro" Lego music video that went viral during Caramoan.  Before I left, I promised her that I would somehow send her a message from the island.  It also was fun to fuck with the other people on my tribe once I knew it was going to be me.

Also, she no longer talks to me."

P.P.S.  Just for grins, let's point out Probst flip-flopping on Max at the Second Chances vote reveal.  At this point the good Professor is basically being gaslighted.


"A student of the game.  So much so that you taught a college course."

"Much like Jim Rice, one of our favorite players to ever play.  I mean that."

Wait, what?  Since when?

You will not get a second chance.  Fuck off.

P.P.P.S.  Please forgive me.  One last tribute.

"They're called squats, Jon.  I do them every day."

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** Thank you to Cory Gage for making the Greek FUBC.  It's one of my personal favorites **

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