The Funny 115 - The Third One

#11. The Most Interesting Ant in the World
Philippines - episode 12

Okay, now here's a fun little scene from Survivor: Philippines. Where we get to peek into the complicated mind of Mike Skupin.

Don't worry. Not that part.

This is one of those little character moments that will ALWAYS make me laugh, whenever I see it. But I also get the sense that a lot of Survivor viewers don't remember it. Which means it is probably the last entry on this version of the Funny 115 that most of you won't remember.

And that's a shame. Because as you can see, I very nearly put it in the top ten.

This will be a fun writeup.

Annnnnnd here we go.

It's the thirtieth day of Survivor: Philippines

And former teen star Lisa Whelchel has just reached the lowest point of her game

See, due to alliances, Lisa has just been forced out to vote out one of her best friends in the game, Jonathan Penner.

You're the Tootie of our tribe. I'm sorry.

I mean, my ass

And now that Penner is gone, Lisa is all torn up about it.

I'm all torn up about it

Now, I know a lot of Survivor fans enjoy making fun of Lisa, and her story arc in Philippines. In fact, she is someone a lot of people expected me to feature quite heavily on this version of the Funny 115. But she's someone I specifically DIDN'T want to write about too much, and I didn't want to be mean to.


Well mostly because, when I watch Philippines, I really do feel bad for her. She seems like she really went through the wringer that season. Probably moreso than anyone else I can think of in modern Survivor.

Don't forget that 70% of her storyline was her coming to peace with the idea that she will always be a TV character to people

And that she will never be real to anyone

To me, Lisa Whelchel is the heart and soul of Survivor: Philippines. The entire storyline revolves around her.

I think her story arc was equally tragic, heartbreaking, and fascinating, and that's why I never wanted to pick on her.

In related news, remind me to stick up for Monica Culpepper one day. Same deal.

So anyway, Lisa has gone through the wringer in Philippines.

Like, this poor woman has gone through eleven episodes of hell.

Which is ironic, because she's one of the most religious people they've ever cast on the show

Lisa has struggled with the ethics of the game.

She has struggled with the strategy of the game.

She has struggled with people repeatedly calling her a snake.

This girl's a serpent, Jeff

She has struggled with it SO much, in fact, that it is starting to visibly age her.

And at the start of the twelfth episode, she points out to us that Survivor goes against everything she believes as a kind-hearted Christian.

"Betraying people's trust goes against who I am."

And so here we go.

It's the start of the twelfth episode, and Lisa has just hit rock bottom.

Both physically, spiritually, ethically, and emotionally.

Voting out Jonathan Penner has just absolutely devastated her.

This is even worse than the day Mrs. Garrett got run over by a steamroller

Lisa is still part of a four person alliance, which consists of her, Mike Skupin, Denise, and Malcolm.

The key being her best friend in Christ, Mike Skupin

But she's having one of the hardest games in Survivor history right now.

And everyone knows it.

Also, she has to spend every waking minute with Abi. Which sucks.

Lisa is down in the dumps right now. She's battered. She's beaten.

But... good news!

At the start of episode twelve, she's about to get the ONE emotional boost that might actually be able to recharge her batteries.

It's the family visit!

Yep, that's right. It's the all-important family visit. Where the players get to check out of the game for a couple of hours, and actually just connect with their loved ones. Like actual real people.

Lisa is overjoyed when she sees that the loved ones are coming out

Look, there's Denise with her husband!

Look, there's Skupin with someone who is over 18!

Look, there's Carter greeting his mom!

Lisa is overjoyed to see everyone experiencing some love.

And then... her brother comes out.

And she completely loses it

Her brother, who is named Brother, I believe, comes out. And she just completely throws herself at him.


Lisa just stands there and she clings to him for a while.

Probst is so moved by how tightly she is clinging to him, that he actually comments on it.

"Guys, wasn't Ben a great winner?"

No, this is what he really says.

"Gotta say, I've seen some pretty powerful moments involving loved ones."

"This might be at the top."

Lisa continues to cling to her brother like Big Tom holding on to a Twinkie.

My precious

And then she says...

"I don't think I've needed a person more in my life."

"Than my baby brother."

Hey hermano

"Isn't he beautiful?"

And just like that, Lisa's entire emotional game has just turned around.

And all because of her brother, Brother

Not only is Lisa heartened by being reunited with Brother, she is then FURTHER heartened by the fact that her very good friend, Malcolm, invites her along on a reward.


And even better...

The reward is that she gets to go back with Brother to camp

So Brother comes back to Camp Dangrayne.

Fist bump

And this is where Lisa's spiritual battery is going to be finally recharged.

See, because Brother is going to give her some counseling

Brother takes Lisa aside. And he sits her down. And he has a little chat with her.

You've been too nice in this game, he tells her. That's been your big problem.

Start thinking of this as strategy. And stop thinking of everyone as your friend.

Basically, he informs her...

I know Malcolm's your friend, but you have to vote him out. He's too strong.

And these, of course, are the words an ethical person like Lisa has needed.

He's right!

Pretty soon she is laughing and smiling and having fun again.

And all because of some really good game advice from Brother

Brother further explains to us that...

"Lisa is a very loyal person. Anything shady or underhanded would be so unnatural for her."

"My job is to remind my sister to think of this as a game."

"Outwit, outlast, outplay the other contestants."

So now the die has been cast. Lisa isn't going to think of this as an ethical dilemma anymore. She is simply going to go back to being strategic.

Like her brother said, she's here to owituit, oblaltay, outlast the other contestants.

And this is where Brother throws the idea out to Lisa and Skupin

"I know he's in your alliance, but why not vote out Malcolm?"

"Take out Malcolm and his idol in one shot."

Lisa struggles with the idea at first, of course.

"I've already turned on a friend once. Not sure I want to do it again."

But Brother eventually persuades her.

Better do it, sis, or I'll tell mom

Also, have you ever seen that trope where a person has an angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other shoulder? And they're both trying to convince you what to do?

Well here's the actual "devil on your shoulder" face

"It's a game, right? Malcolm might even respect it."

You know, you're right. He MIGHT respect it.

And here comes the big excited moment of clarity.

"He was able to show me the crystal clear picture."

"It had gotten all confused and foggy in my head."

"And it was like..."


"I can play this game!"

"And I can play it WELL!"

Lisa then confirms with her fellow Christian bestie, Mike, what the two of them need to be doing.

"We need to blindside Malcolm."

"Get him out of there."

And if you're a fan of Lisa's story at all, you're like yay Lisa!

"I don't know if I'll win. But I'm gonna do everything I can."

"To play the game. By these rules."

"To win."

And then comes the part of this scene that's important for the comedy later.

Where they all pray over it

"Lord, bless this plan and protect it."

"Whatever your will is, we want it to be done."

Amen. God will look over us now.

And we finish off the scene with an important confessional about God and God's concern over reality TV outcomes.

"I didn't know that Jesus had a vested interest in Survivor."

"Cause, as far as I've seen every picture of Jesus, he's a guy."

"And I think that he would want the guys to win."

Oops, wrong one. Sorry.

No, here is Lisa's actual confessional.

"I don't think God chooses sides."

"I don't think you can pray for your football team. And because you're praying, God's gonna choose that side."

"I think he's so much bigger than that."

"So it was really easy to pray and say... God, we got a plan, and we'd love it if you bless it."

"But if you don't, and you have a bigger plan, we totally trust that."

"He's a win-win God."

"Maybe not everyone wins the million dollars, but He's pretty resourceful."

So that's the big takeaway for Lisa here. That God is SO much bigger than this game. And if God doesn't bless this particular plan, it just means He has a much bigger plan in mind for her later.

Remember that logic.

That's important.

It's especially important because... uh oh... Malcolm winds up winning immunity

Well poop, says God

Lisa, of course, sees the humor in the fact that all her discussion with Brother wound up being for nothing.

"I'm so bummed! I was so ready to play this game hard, and make a big move."

"And poof! Malcolm wins immunity."

Well that sucks.

Also, Lisa just called me a poof.

Okay, and then here's the payoff.

It's the scene right after Malcolm wins immunity. And God's Lisa's plan to blindside him out of the game has been foiled.

Here comes one of the most religious scenes in Survivor history since "Follow the Star"

Lisa and Mike are sitting around after the immunity challenge.

And they're deciding how to approach the next vote now.

Sad Jesus music plays in the background, as they sit there and pray

Dear God, why me? This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

And this is where Lisa delves into one of the most theological discussions you are ever going to hear on a TV show.

"You know, we did pray."

"That if this was not the right way to go, God would close the door."

"And that door was closed."

"Interesting," notes Mike

But, ever the optimist, Lisa knows that this is just a part of a bigger picture now. It's not simply about Malcolm anymore.

There is something... greater... that God is trying to tell them here.

"There's a bigger picture here. A bigger story."

"A bigger plan. That we can't see."

"This is apparently his will. For Malcolm to have the immunity necklace."

And this is where we get a look into the complex inner workings of Mike Skupin.

Like I said, there's almost no way you can watch his response to this and not laugh.

Because in the middle of Lisa's talk about God, and faith, and doors being closed...

He gets distracted by a bug

And here's his contribution to Lisa's theory about God's role in faith and society.

"Look at the size of the ant on that tree."


And thus concludes one of the most thoughtful discussions of religion on modern TV.

Mike, please come back to me

"Yeah... so I guess God's got something waiting for us at the final four..."


And that's the one time that God took a backseat to the size of an ant.

Wow, that little fucker is biblical


** Special thanks to Vic Shuttee for the Fafaru Brad Culpepper picture **

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