Another Wednesday has come, and with it, as always, is another Survivor Oz Top Ten. This week’s article comes all the way from the UK from one of our newest Ozlets, James Pickering. Survivor is known for casting a diverse range of people for each season, most of whom are chosen for their entertainment value. In most seasons, there is that one contestant that is just plain weird. Today, James counts down his top ten Survivor Oddballs from various seasons of Survivor. Who is the strangest of them all? You’ll have to read on to find out.
10. Wanda Shirk – Palau
Wanda’s elimination in Survivor: Palau is perhaps the cruellest eviction in Survivor history. Imagine going through the whole casting process, which supposedly takes months and countless interviews, only to be eliminated after twenty-four hours after a schoolyard pick. No wonder it has never occurred since! However, in the very short period that Wanda graced our screens she provided an incredibly awkward but hilarious song at the nose of the boat rowing to the beach with the entire cast present. It is a personal favourite scene of mine and it makes me very sad to think that we were robbed of a potential Survivor icon. She sang again at the Reunion and her lack of bitterness about her being screwed over by production is very admirable. She deserves a place in Survivor history and I’m hoping her inclusion on this list will remind people of her fantastic cameo in Palau.
9. Robb Zbacnik – Thailand
What is the one luxury item everybody would take when they’re going to live on a sandy beach for thirty-nine days? If your answer is anything other than a skateboard, then “you get on my nerves and I don’t like being around you. Nothing personal”. Robb from Thailand was an oddball purely because he just seemed like he was jacked up on three hundred cans of red bull; he looked like he had so much energy that he had to redirect it into arguing with people the entire time, most famously with Shii Ann. He also had the infamous confrontation with Clay at the Attack Reward Challenge, where he quite literally choked Clay before throwing him in the water. After the challenge, he eloquently described Clay as a “backwards hick” and said he’d love to “spit in his face”. Robb had a touching storyline in the end though; he had an epiphany and realised he wanted to get closer to his father and was voted out at complete ease and acceptance of the decision. But anybody who takes a skateboard as a luxury item to a beach is an automatic entry onto this list.
8. Kathy Sleckman – Micronesia
If you’re writing an article about odd personalities and characters on Survivor, how can you not include the woman who gave serious thought to cutting her finger off in order to be medically evacuated? It has been well documented that Kathy chose not to tell the production team that she took prescribed anti-depressants in fear she would not be cast, and this resulted in the elements taking a severe effect on her, to the point that she quit the game. However, it is clear from her later interviews that she is a very loud and eccentric character. Her first interaction with Chet where she brashly says she had never met a gay person before is testament to this. She is a worthy addition to the oddball list.
7. Judd Sergeant – Guatemala
Survivor: Guatemala has one of the most underrated cast lists of all seasons, which makes it a tragedy that no original contestant has returned for a future season at the time of writing. Judd is arguably the most memorable of this cast and provided many eccentric and entertaining moments. Known for his short fuse, confrontational demeanour and his use of the word ‘man’ around four hundred and fifty-nine thousand times in the space of a season, he was even accused of having ADHD by Margaret at the Tribal Council she was voted out in. And who can forget his “I hope you get bitten by a DAMN crocodile!” signoff when he was blindsided? It is a travesty that we have never seen Judd again on our screens, and he is certainly a Survivor oddball.
6. Maralyn “Mad Dog” Hershey – The Australian Outback
When Dawn removed her teeth in Caramoan, the majority of people seemed to believe that this was the first time somebody had removed their teeth on Survivor. However, Mad Dog did this some twelve years ago in the Australian Outback during a gross food eating challenge without any of the drama and histrionics that followed Dawn’s coerced teeth removal. Mad Dog’s stay in the Outback was short due to her physical limitations being a drain on the Ogakor tribe’s challenge prowess, but her subsequent appearances afterwards show that she is the definition of eccentric. Mad Dog was the star of the Australian Outback Reunion, and if you have not seen the ‘Back from the Outback’ special where she parades around in a red swimsuit, look it up now. If this all was not enough, one lesser known fact about Mad Dog Hershey is that for her application tape for Survivor, she spent seven weeks taping herself living inside a trash dumpster. If that doesn’t spell oddball, I don’t know what does!
5. Greg “Tarzan” Smith – One World
When somebody comes on Survivor with the nickname ‘Tarzan’, you know you have an eccentric character on your hands. Tarzan is a person with a humongous vocabulary, shown when he described his endearing love for his wife as them having “a quantum entanglement”. Tarzan had many very entertaining moments throughout Survivor: One World and, like Phillip Sheppard, decided it was a good idea to walk around in a pair of tightie-whities for the majority of his Survivor experience. He also provided one of the strangest episode storylines when Monica was voted out; the vote came down to whether Tarzan would remember the name of the person he was supposed to write down! All these reasons, plus the unforgettable poop incident and saving his money from the Auction for new shocks for his truck at home, make Tarzan a worthy entry on the oddball top ten.
4. Phillip Sheppard – Redemption Island & Caramoan
Phillip Sheppard is undoubtedly one of the biggest characters in Survivor history. A man who divides opinion like no other, the moment his first confessional aired with him declaring himself as a former special agent, Survivor had somebody who provides entertainment gold. In his first season he consistently provided comedic moments, from his first Tribal Council interaction with “Francesqua”, his claims of visions from his great-great grandfather Jessum, his little pink tightie-whities, the creation of Stealth-R-Us and his feather wearing on his head. He also provided one of the more uncomfortable moments in Survivor history, where he accused Steve Wright of racism after Wright arguably correctly called him crazy. He continued the entertainment in Caramoan, from his claims he threw challenges, challenging Cochran to arm wrestles and his explanations of his basketball expertise. Although he sparks considerable debate over his apparent excessive screen time, there cannot be a Survivor oddball list without the presence of ‘The Specialist’.
3. Shane Powers – Panama
Giving up cigarettes is one of life’s supposed more difficult tasks and combining that with lack of food, shelter and Courtney Marit resulted in hilarious outcomes in the case of Shane Powers. He considered quitting early on in the game as a result of the nicotine withdrawals and I’m thankful he didn’t as he provided endless entertainment throughout the season, including numerous seemingly random outbursts about his thinking chair, constant arguments with everybody on the dysfunctional Casaya tribe and even threatening to kill Courtney at one stage! He also followed in Greg Buis’ footsteps with his ‘blackberry’, and who can forget him carrying Bruce out on a stretcher in the pitch black, completely stark naked! I haven’t even mentioned him begging Cirie to check his penis! How he hasn’t come back is beyond me. A worthy addition to the oddball list.
2. Greg Buis – Borneo
Ah, the first Survivor oddball. The one that set the standard for future oddballs to live up to in the very first season of the show. Greg was eccentric in an era where eccentric personalities were not an expected part of reality television as they are today. He has a massive cult following in the Survivor fan base to this day, and rightly so. Incidents like the coconut phone, the incest jokes in his loved ones video with his sister, random flying fish, and debate of the best type of condiment to serve with rat provided laughs and entertainment throughout the season. He even signed off in a true eccentric style, breaking the ice by pretending to burst into tears after being voting out and making everybody else laugh in the process. It is a massive pity he has never played again. I can’t have been the only one who would have loved to have seen him and his sister on the upcoming Blood vs. Water season?
1. Benjamin “Coach” Wade – Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains & South Pacific
Arise, the king of eccentricity. A man who is an endless well of entertainment, memorable moments and fantastic stories, a man who became a star when he first appeared on our screens in Tocantins. I am a massive Coach fan and believe him to be easily the most entertaining castaway in the history of the show. I mean, the man claims to be a direct descendant from Pocahontas! From very early on in Tocantins, he provided laughs by claiming he was leading his tribe in taking supplies off the truck “with his eyes”. He continued the entertainment throughout, claiming he played with “honour and integrity” and wanting to keep the strongest in the tribe, before promptly voting out Brendan. This led to him proclaiming himself as The Dragon Slayer, one of the most iconic nicknames in Survivor history. His story of an Amazonian tribe wanting to “eat his ass” was just one of many life or death experiences, which included being attacked by a shark and being stalked by a jaguar no less. His trip to Exile Island is one of the best-edited Survivor scenes, with the dramatic music and philosophical quotes throughout never failing to make me laugh out loud. These are just some of the quotes uttered out of his mouth during that scene. I challenge you not to laugh.
Describing himself: “Unbreakable, unbendable, unyielding, immeasurable, immovable, invincible.”
Describing the experience: “I will not having anything to eat. It’s going to be like the ancient American Indians, who are my ancestors, who would just go out into the wilderness and commune with the creator of the wilderness and become men… but I’m already a man, this will just make me more of a man, but this is going to be an adventure.”
His poem before being voted out was textbook Coach, something that no other castaway could pull off. He continued his fabulous fun factor in Heroes vs. Villains, where his Coach-Chi, (supposedly a form passed down from the ancient Chinese only by mouth), accompanied by his fabulous singing voice, was a personal highlight of mine. However, his Jury speech in Heroes vs. Villains is my personal highlight of the season, where he signs off and an eagle call is played. Pure entertainment gold and without a shadow of a doubt makes Coach the number one Survivor oddball!
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!