The Funny 115 - The Third One

#38. The Loneliness of the Spoken Word Poet
South Pacific - episodes 1-3

It's funny, when you look at how much Survivor casting has changed over the years.  

In the early seasons of the show, most of the people who were cast were things like "adventure guide."  Or "triathlete."  Or "pig hunting enthusiast."  Or "guy who lives in a tree and speaks to coconuts."  There was a very deliberate attempt to find people who were outdoorsy and who were also some sort of a badass survivalist.  

They also cast Brandon Quinton once

But, as the show developed over the years, the casting department started to move a little away from that philosophy.

As the show went on, and the franchise went on, you started to see casting choices that I would say were... maybe... a little bit... unorthodox.  

Want to see how unorthodox?  Well just keep in mind that the first season had a person who trained soldiers how to survive torture in captivity (Gretchen), they had a truck driver who pretty much killed muskrats with her bare hands (Sue), and they also had a fucking Navy SEAL.  And not just -a- Navy SEAL, but arguably -the- most famous Navy SEAL of them all (Colleen).  

Survivor began as a show where rugged survivalists competed to see who was the toughest outdoorsman of them all.  

Then, flash forward a couple of seasons, and our casting decisions had already morphed into this:

Erotic art consultant

Mechanical bull operator

Hot mortician

And Sandra

I'm not saying these were bad casting choices.  I'm just saying they were different.  

Although we didn't REALLY start getting different until we got up to the seasons in the teens and the twenties.  Because that's when we got one of the greatest, most random Survivor player occupations of them all.

Because that's when we were introduced to Semhar

Who you might remember as an professional internet beat poet

Now, I happen to love Semhar.  In fact, I love pretty much all of South Pacific, it's one of my favorite seasons on this version of the Funny 115.  From top to bottom, it's not only one of the most interesting seasons I can think of in recent memory, it's also just flat out one of the goofiest.

And of course, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't have an entry dedicated to the only Youtube slam poet we've seen over thirty-plus seasons of the show.

Is strumming her pain with your fingers

Semhar wasn't around for very long.  But like many of the great minor Survivor figures, she still somehow managed to make an impact.  Like the great Shoeless Joe Jackson (tm Best in Show), people still talk about her even today.

Never forget me, America

In any case, in the style of beat poetry:

Let's take.
  a trip

    through her              
        (so short)
but memorable.  



*Shall* we

It's day one of South Pacific.  And the Savaiis are excited to get to meet all their new tribesmates.

They're especially excited to meet the super hot one who seems kind of dippy

The Savaiis stand there, and they go around in a circle, and they all explain who they are and what they do for a living.  
Ozzy is a professional Survivor player.  Whitney is a songwriter.  Cochran is a law student.  Papa Bear is a stereotype.  Dawn is a jack o'lantern.  You've seen scenes like this before.  You know how they go.

Hey Cochran, you're a ginger.  Can I punch you?

And then, at the end, we get to the girl with the high socks and the questionable fashion choices.

The Semhar action figure.  Now with crotch socks.

At the end of their little fun circle, the Savaiis ask Semhar who she is and what she does for a living.

And this is where we are introduced to the strange, untamed world of spoken word poetry.

Enjoy the ride

Here's her introduction exactly as it happened in the episode.  


"I'm Semhar."

"My talent..."

"... my soul..."

"... my life... is poetry."

"Performing spoken word."

"I'm Papa Bear.  Give us some."

Well, okay Mr. Bear.  But only 'cause you asked.

"'Cause see, I would walk miles and miles."

"To protect his ageless spirit of the child."

"On floors of black and white checkered tiles."

"Only steppin' on the white ones, like when Billie Jean claimed it was Mike's son."

"Rubbed off on me every day with his laugh."

"That's all."

By the way, I should point out how much I love the fact that she doesn't even look at her tribesmates at the end of her poem.  She looks at the camera.  She looks RIGHT AT THE AUDIENCE AT HOME and she BOWS.  She basically says, hey look, I just advertised my Youtube poetry channel right here on CBS.  I totally have a Youtube channel, guys.  Please patronize it.

This one knows how to play the long game

As you can imagine, the rest of the tribe hears Semhar's mastery of the English language, and they are dutifully impressed.

You know, that was actually pretty good

You know, that was actually pretty good

Boy, I sure would like to have sex with that

After Semhar's introductory poem...

And her little dance

... we are treated to a pair of wonderful confessionals.  Which go a long way towards explaining why people still remember Semhar's tiny little story arc, even today.

First up is the poet laureate herself.

Here she explains why being able to reel off beat poetry is an important life skill for today's youth.

"I got put on the spot.  I had to immediately step up."

"I'm not gonna say that I'm a poet and then not have anything to show for it."

"I think it's important that, when people challenge you, that you step up to that."

Exactly.  Know your beat poetry, kids.  Never give in to a challenge.

Clearly Semhar's position is safe and secure now that she has proven her ability to reference the 1982 Billie Jean video.

Well I was going to vote her out, but now I'm not sure.  What if we ever have a P.Y.T. trivia challenge?

Oh, and then there's the second fun confessional.

The Ozzy one.

See if you can read between the lines and pick out what he is saying here.

You don't have to be Freud.

"I thought it was beautiful, and I think she's incredibly talented."

"I respect Semhar's passion.  And I think I would like someone like her alongside me for the long haul."

Seriously, Ozzy pops the fastest Survivor boner since Erik popped one when he saw Ozzy back in Micronesia.  

If that other guy's Papa Bear, then you can call me Sensitive Bear.  Hi, I'm Ozzy.

And from here on out, we know what his plan is going to be.  I mean, it's not like we haven't seen Ozzy play Survivor twice before.  We already know how he works.

Ozzy's strategy

And naturally, what is the King's first decree as ruler of this brand new tribe?

"Hey guys, Semhar should get naked, and we should all go swimming."

Yeah.  So anyway, let's do that!

Ozzy heads out to the water, and he immediately yells for Semhar his tribe to come out and join him



Eventually, she takes a moment between poems to strip down to her bathing suit.  And she joins him in the water.

And so here we go

Ozzy's next great Survivor journey has officially begun.

Girlfriend, tell me about your life.  Tell me about your poems.  I'm totally interested.

Now, at this point, you'd think that Semhar is going to become a major character.  After all, Ozzy is a major character.  And Semhar is going to become the newest occupant of Ozzy's Pleasure Dome.  Just from the edit, we're pretty sure that's how it's going to go.

But sadly, that isn't how it's going to go.

Saaaad panda

Semhar's story is really over at this point.  It's over before it even began.

And why is it over?

It's over because...


I mean, it's mostly because of how badly she screws up the first challenge.

Remember this part?

Semhar shows up for the first challenge in her high socks and her poetry shawl

The challenge involves throwing coconuts up into a wicker basket.  And, of course, Semhar volunteers to be one of the coconut throwers.

And... uh...

"I think it's important that, when people challenge you, that you step up to that."

So anyway...

About that.

Everyone has to pick up a coconut, and then throw it up into a net

And here's basically Semhar trying just to pick up a coconut

Cause see, I would walk miles and miles
Just to lose the game and see Upolu's smiles

Upolu's smiles

And just like that, Semhar has single-handedly cost her tribe immunity.  

*insert new poem about loss, and coconuts*

And also likely cost herself the game.

When you now have to mercy kill the hot one

So Savaii goes back to camp.  And Ozzy tries.  He tries.  He really TRIES to protect his new number one ally.

But it's no use.  The rest of the tribe is spooked by the fact that Ozzy is rallying so hard to protect her.  

Jim explains that Ozzy's fapping is keeping everyone up at night

And with that, Semhar the spoken word poet is voted out of the game.

Sorry Semhar, the tribe has spoken



So Semhar is gone.  And her game is over.  But, of course, not without one final indignity on her way out.

Hopefully you didn't miss this fun little one.

When you're the hottest girl and these are the two guys you wind up sandwiched between

But wait!

Did I just say that Semhar's game was over?

Well it wasn't.

Remember, this was one of those goofy Redemption Island seasons.  

South Pacific was one of those seasons where people got to go hang out at Redemption Island for a couple of days.  And then compete in a dumb little carnival game and maybe come back into the game.  So as luck would have it, we still have at least two more episodes of Semhar coming up, which in this case is a good thing.

So anyway, let's cut over to Redemption Island to see our favorite spoken word poet is up to.

Oh look, she's spoken word poetrying

Now, a lot of people might forget this part of Semhar's journey, simply because it happened at Redemption Island and it wasn't really part of the game.  But if you ask me, this is most underrated part of her storyline.  Because this is the part of Semhar's Survivor journey that I like to call "Spoken Word Poem or Confessional?"  

And so here we go.  Here are the four speeches she gives while she's at Redemption Island.

See if you can pick out which category each one falls into.  Is this a Poem?  Or is this considered a Confessional?

Remember, there are people and websites out there that keep track of how many confessionals every player in Survivor history has had.  This kind of stuff is important for the record keeping, folks.

Spoken Word Poem or Confessional?
You Decide

Speech #1:

"Maybe I'm just being over-emotional."

"But I just have abandonment issues."

"I don't understand how people can be so cold hearted."

Speech #2:

"Sometimes I wonder if I really miss you."

"Or if I just miss feeling loved, cared about, and important."

"You walked away, untouched and unbruised, still feeling complete off the love I gave you."

"While I would love to crash."

Speech #3:

"I'll never understand how men like you can cause so much damage."

"Or even worse, how women such as myself can even stand it."

"I don't miss you."

I miss feeling loved."

Speech #4:

"I gave them my every last strength."

"And they sent me to Redemption Island."


So there's the game.  How well did you do?  Answers can be found in the back of your Funny 115 study guide.

Okay, back to the story.

Now, remember, Semhar's Survivor journey would be over in most seasons.  But this is South Pacific, and South Pacific isn't like most seasons.  South Pacific is special.  Because with Redemption Island come duels.  And with duels come other people who have been voted out of the game.  

And that's how Semhar is about to wind up with a friend.

Loves life.  Hates Coach.

And if you're ever wondering why I think South Pacific is a really underrated season and why I think it's a lot of fun, here's one of the big reasons why.  Without Redemption Island in play, there's no way you'd ever get Semhar the Spoken Word Artist hanging out with Christine the Queen of the Bullshit Detectors.

"I love this girl, she's great."

 I mean, come on, how can you not love this pairing?

So Semhar and Christine have their little pow wow.  And I should point out that Semhar is dressed in full gypsy attire throughout most of their conversation.

You have shamed me.  So I curse you.  Lamia.

And then we get their carnival game showdown duel the following day.

The first South Pacific duel.  Day 6.

Here comes the showdown.  The Beat Poet Queen against the Ass Kicker Queen.

Naturally, Coach and Ozzy have both come out to watch the entertainment today.  

Coach, because he wants to see Christine go down in flames

And Ozzy, because there's a chance Semhar might bend over or something

And this is where we get the scene that forever turned Semhar into a first boot Survivor legend.

First off, both participants are allowed to say what this moment means to them, and what they are both feeling right now

Semhar, of course, treats us to her version of a haiku.

"Redemption Islands is scary."

"And I was alone."

"I'm just trying to keep going."

Christine, meanwhile, decides to go a different way with the assignment.

Coach can literally eat a piece of my shit

Jeff explains that today's duel will be a highly technical carnival game.

"You'll be balancing a thing on a stick."

And with that, the challenge is ready to begin.

Or is it?

Remember guys, my channel's at

You see, there's a little ritual Semhar likes to do before she participates in something that's stressful.  

You may have heard of it before. It's called "Spoken Word Poetry."

Ready for a little spoken word poetry?

Well here comes her most notorious one.

It's time to play "Semhar's Love Life - The Home Game."

Take it away, Chaucer.  Paint a picture for us.

"There isn't anything I wouldn't do for this man."

"I would even take off my clothes and give him a private show."

"To the tunes of my soul."

"Because he's all that I need."

"I would give birth to a ton of his children."

"Without using any drugs to help ease the pain."

"Then I would give him one more just because our love is that insane."

Wait, there are babies involved?  No thanks.  *swipes left*

Then, of course, Semhar finishes strong with what will one day become her catchphrase.

"There is not one thing that I would not do."

"For my lover, my best friend, my honey, my boo."

"I can't WAIT to meet him."

And.... done.


Well that was fun.

Now... there are a lot of fun things going on in this scene if you want to unpack them.  Most people just remember the poem, and Christine standing there waiting for her, but there's a lot more going on than just that.  

I already pointed out the moment Ozzy suddenly loses interest in Semhar.  That's fun.

Wait, now who's this?   Hi, I'm Ozzy.  They call me the Sensitive Bear.

But there's also a great drawn out sigh from Probst when he realizes this poetry shit is going to go on for a while.

If you don't remember that part, here it is.  This is great.

Where his smile slowly drops

And he lets out one of the most pained, annoyed sighs I have ever seen

So anyway, there's Christine's reaction.  There's Ozzy's reaction.  And there's Probst's reaction.  

None of them have any interest in a poem where Semhar talks about being banged repeatedly.

Flashbacks to Parvati always yammering on about her dumb yoga studio

Oh yeah, and then there's Coach's reaction.

Which is the best part.

See if you can catch the irony here.

A poem?  What is this shit?

Why can't a person just go out quietly with some dignity, and not have to put on a show?

Several people pointed this out to me in emails, but they didn't have to because I already knew about it and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Just check out this newest addition to the Legendary Story of Coach Wade.

Coach gets weirded out by Semhar reciting a poem

But Coach was the one who INVENTED reading a poem just before you are voted out

Anything Semhar is doing here, the Dragonslayer simply did first

Oh god, Coach is talking about having multiple babies with someone

So anyway, that's the story of Semhar, and spoken word poetry, and Ozzy's blue balls, and how like all great Survivor stories, it eventually ties in and has something to do with the Dragonslayer.

Can we throw something underhand at tiles now?

I can aim, and I can shoot.  And those tiles are so big.

Stop it

And the next time you need a little spoken word poetry in your life, just think of poor Semhar.

Sorry Semhar, you lost the duel.  It's time to go.

Can I read a poem?


There's no banging in this one.

I'm sorry.  But no.

And just like that.


             disappeared              and.

She was out of




Good bye

P.S.  In the interest of fairness, I will point out that Semhar was not happy with the way she was portrayed on the show.  She blamed the producers for encouraging her to read poems and then editing it to make her look weird.  I don't know where Semhar is now, but I do know that seven years have passed since this season first aired.  And hopefully she, Coach, Vince Sly, and the rest of the stranger players in Survivor history are all sitting around a table right now, having a drink, and laughing about the way they were portrayed on the show.  Also, I should point out that if that DOES happen, I hope Semhar writes a poem about it and she sends it to me.  No pressure.

** Thank you to Reddit user benfox2 for the Colby FUBC picture **

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