The Funny 115 - The Third One

#59. The Grappling Hook
Caramoan - episode 7

One of the things I love about Cochran as a Survivor player is that he is always looking at the game as some sort of a sitcom episode.  Which is great for me because that's the same way I tend to look at the show too.  Any time I watch an episode of Survivor these days, pretty much all I am looking for is some sort of goofy editor's joke going on in the background.  Or something bizarre that one character is doing that another character is now forced to react to.  To me, this is most interesting (and fun) way to watch Survivor.  If you don't watch the episodes this way, I highly recommend it.  

Like this shot from Cagayan, where Tony is just randomly running somewhere for no reason

Or this one from Worlds Apart, where Jenn's glamor shot is upstaged by Vince doing creepy Vince things in the background

Or this great shot from Blood vs Water, where Ciera is convinced that Brad Culpepper is reaching over to strangle her

Stuff like this makes Survivor so much better when you are watching for it.  And that's one of the reasons why John Cochran might be my all time favorite Survivor narrator.


Why is Cochran so great for me, and for the Funny 115 in general?  Well that's easy.  It's because he gets it.  Cochran GETS that this show is basically just a sitcom made up of wacky cartoon characters.  In fact, I would say I have never seen another player who gets it as obviously as he does.

From the very first minute he appeared on the screen in South Pacific, right off the bat I could tell, this is a guy who watches Survivor the same way that I do.

It's especially obvious when something bizarre happens in the game

And he will look to the camera to make sure we are getting this

Tata the Bushman isn't the only time that Cochran does that, by the way.   He is endlessly throwing glances at the camera, just to make sure we are catching things.  And this is why I like to say that the Funny 115 has never had a greater ally on the show than John Cochran.  Every time something goofy happens in the game, and he reacts to it, or he throws a look at the camera to make sure the audience catches it too, I know it is probably something I will write about one day on the Funny 115.  It's like I have a second set of eyes and ears out there whenever he's in the game.

For example, check out this great scene from episode six of Caramoan

Phillip is complaining about something or other, and just like in the famous Seinfeld episode, Phillip decides to close-talk him

He gets right in his face

Then Phillip goes into crazy drill sergeant mode and starts doing the yelling thing

Cochran, of course, knows how ridiculous Phillip is as a Survivor character.  And he knows how silly this is going to look on TV.

You can see him barely able to keep a straight face

And of course, you know what happens next.

As Phillip and Cochran are ending the scene, and walking back to camp...

Cochran throws a look at the camera.  A quick "did you guys just catch that??"


It's stuff like this that will always make me appreciate John Cochran.  

Above all else, even above his win, he is the ONE guy who is always thinking of the game as a comedy writer.

Cochran is basically the Survivor version of Wayne Campbell's "Get-A-Load-Of-This-Guy Cam."

Want to see one of my favorite moments of Cochran pointing out how ridiculous somebody else is on Survivor?

You do?  


I'm glad you asked.

Hey guess what?  It's about Phillip.

Okay, it's the seventh episode of Caramoan, and the Bikal Tribe has just been decimated by a twist.

At this point in the game, their tribe now consists of everyone who's either small, old, ginger, or weak.

While their opponents (Gota) are basically now Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm, and Malcolm

On paper, this is now one of the most lopsided matchups in the history of Survivor.  The Bikals are going to get decimated in every single strength challenge from here on out, and they know it.

Which is exactly what happens at the end of episode six.  Gota kicks the shit out of them.  And then Bikal has to vote out Matt.

So Bikal is small, weak, and toast.  And they know it.  And they are down in numbers.

And this is where we arrive on Day 17 at the start of the seventh episode.  

Get ready to enjoy the Phillip and Cochran show.

So Dawn goes and gets treemail first thing in the morning.  And it doesn't sound good.

Uh oh.  We're competing in a strength challenge.

Oh crap.

Julia is pissed

What are the odds that lowly Bikal will be able to compete with the mighty Gotas in a strength challenge today?  

Cochran?  Any thoughts?

"The treemail said the strong will carry the weak."

"We have plenty of that latter category."

The Bikals know they are going to be decimated today.  There's just no way around it.  There's no way they can possibly compete with the big bad Gota tribe.  

Well, everyone knows it, except for ONE guy

Yep, that's right.  

There might be six people here who know they are about to be decimated.  But those six people don't include Phillip Sheppard.  


You see, Phillip is as strong as ANYONE else in this game.  And it's about time that his tribe starts to believe in him.

I can match up against anyone on Gota, he says confidently

"If it involves upper body I'm almost certain I can win it."

Oh really?

Apparently this is going to be Phillip's new thing when it comes to Survivor.  Gone are the days of "The Specialist."  Gone are the days of the nicknames.  Gone are the days of the gorilla on one arm and the lion on the other arm and whatever the fuck that whole thing was.  Now, this is his new image.  

From here on out, he will now be Phillip W. Sheppard, the powerful one.

Any questions?

By the way, how does Phillip PROVE to everyone that he has the strength of ten men, and that he can never be defeated?

Well the same way that you would prove to everyone that you were a bad ass, and that you could never be defeated.

He challenges the 98 pound ginger nerd to an arm wrestling match

Not surprisingly, Phillip wins.

Alright, you win.  You're the man.  Now see if you can beat Julia.

The boss fight

So Phillip beats the only guy who would probably lose arm wrestling to his grandma, and this apparently proves that Phillip is now an unstoppable badass.

Although I should point out that you can't really have a Cochran and Phillip scene without Phillip saying something ridiculous, and Cochran laughing because he knows how stupid it is going to appear on TV.

It happens when Phillip is explaining arm wrestling strategy while basically overpowering Urkel

Okay, so that's that.  Phillip is the man, and anybody who says he isn't the man is flat out lying because Phillip's the man.  They all know it.

I'm the man

And with that, let's head to the reward challenge.  

Where Phillip can demonstrate to everyone how amazingly powerful he is.

Okay, it's the episode seven reward challenge.  And of course Phillip is in the lead.

I'll carry all the weight you guys.  You don't have to worry about it.  Just follow my pace.

And... you guessed it... what happens two minutes into the challenge?

Well THAT was anticlimactic.  Thanks, Warrior.

Gonna get you!

Um, Phillip?

Ow, it hurts


And thus ends the most exciting four and a half minute challenge in Survivor history.

Okay, so maybe Phillip isn't quite as strong and virile and unstoppable as he thinks he is.  Maybe he might actually be wrong about that.

The Bikal Mount Rushmore

Any thoughts on what Phillip's weakness might be as a teammate, Dawn?

"He sees all of his strengths and none of his weaknesses."

Ah, yes.  Maybe that's it.

Okay, so we're back at camp now.  Phillip has just screwed the pooch harder than a sex fiend after hours at a puppy mill.  He absolutely cannot lead this tribe in anything, and everyone knows it.

Wasn't I awesome today?

Corinne is especially incensed that they have to listen to this idiot talk about how amazing and how great he is at everything twenty four hours a day.  So she sits down and she cuts one of the most famous confessionals of the season.  Um, I don't think she likes Phillip Sheppard very much.

"You tubby lunchbox."

"I've yet to see an ab on you.  I don't see any pectoral muscles."

"He's an amoeba."

"He's just a mess."

Well all right then.  Thank you, Susie Sunshine.


Okay.  So let's go to the next day.  Let's go to the immunity challenge.

Because it wouldn't be Survivor if a guy doesn't get a chance to redeem himself.

Right Phillip?

In today's challenge, most of the tribe will row out and retrieve a statue from under the water.  

And then one heroic warrior will take a grapping hook and try to retrieve a bunch of keys

This warrior must have the strength of a lion.  And the cunning of a gorilla.  For only he will be able to master the nuances of the grappling hook.

... aroo?

And hey, who do you think volunteers to be the hero who wins it all at the end with the grappling hook?

Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's just recap the entire challenge. At least, up to the point where Phillip is allowed to come in and fuck it up for everyone.

So Bikal actually does pretty well in the rowing part of the challenge

They don't dominate.  But they are right there in it for most of the challenge, which is a surprise.

Go Bikal!!!

And then we get to the second part of the challenge.  Where it is Phillip for Bikal, and Reynold for Gota.  

In a head to head showdown of warriors for all of the marbles.

Phillip tosses the grappling hook like a champion

But Reynold does too

And in the end, despite all of Phillip's supposed prowess as a challenge beast

Reynold manages to beat him, five to three


And just like that... for the third challenge in a row...

"Gota!  Wins immunity!"

Oh well.  It's not like Bikal was supposed to be winning any of these challenges anyway.  Not even with Phillip.


Okay, so here comes the part that I absolutely love between Cochran and Phillip.  And I'm thrilled that I finally get a chance to write about it on the Funny 115.  Because I don't think a lot of people even remember this scene.

Back at camp, Phillip has just blown it for the second challenge in a row.  And everyone knows it.

And with that, we just ride Cochran's narration from here on out.  As usual, he is ALWAYS the comedy writer.

Thank you, as always, for approaching this show like it's a sitcom.

"When we got back to camp, spirits were understandably a little bit low.  We just lost." 

"Phillip was sulking around, looking around, kind of eyeing out everybody."

"And then he quickly, and very covertly, pulled me aside."

"And whispered, very intensely..."

Here we go

"And you know, my mind starts racing instantly."

"Has he done something around camp?"

"Is he gonna betray Corinne tonight?"

"What could it possibly be?"

Phillip takes Cochran out into the trees where they can talk privately.  And this is where he confesses his deep, dark secret.

"I didn't wanna win that challenge."

Cochran starts laughing the minute it comes out of his mouth

And now... the big reveal.

"I threw the challenge."

Always stays one step ahead

Cochran just laughs at the idea that Phillip didn't want to be the hero there

And here's the part that I knew instantly (tm Heidi) would be a Funny 115 entry the moment I saw it.  

Thank you, as always, for pointing out the jokes for me.

"It ALL makes sense!"

"We HAD to throw the challenge!  In order to get rid of one of the fans!"

"Or else we were doomed."

"That's the only reason why Phillip was unable to successfully throw a grappling hook."

I actually majored in grappling hook back in college

"I mean, it's complete crap."

"I would have tossed it slightly differently."

"I wouldn't have been winding it up like that."

Mmmm hmmm

"I thought, I'll make a gallant effort.  But it won't quite be where it needs to be."

Uh huh.  Got it.  Smart.

Bring us home, Cochran.

"You can't make up this level of delusion.  And that's what excites me about playing with Phillip."

"I think at this point he's actually convinced that he threw the challenge."

"He wasn't throwing the challenge.  He was trying his hardest.  He was in full spy mode."

"Can you imagine the speech he would have given back at camp had he successfully thrown A GRAPPLING HOOK?"

"The spy's BASIC TOOL?"

"In a challenge and won the challenge for us?"


(laughing)  "It's absurd!"

And that, my friends, is why you always want John Cochran to narrate your Survivor season.

"It's like a lion taking out another lion's pack of cubs.  I'm taking out the cubs."

P.S.  And, of course, you have to include the awesome Corinne follow up.  From the next episode:

Remember that grappling hook challenge?  I threw it.  I lost it on purpose.

I decided IN THE MOMENT that I was going to throw it.

"You decided AT the challenge.  That's convenient."

"That's around the same time that you blew the challenge!"

P.P.S.  And obviously there's one other comparison to Cochran always looking at the camera.

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