The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#54. Bubba's Boner
Vanuatu - Episode 5

Poor Bubba. He really never stood a chance, did he?

When I first came up with the idea of the Funny 115, Bubba's final day on Yasur was the moment that inspired me. In fact, his exit from Survivor: Vanuatu was not only the impetus for this column, I was actually quite certain that it was going to wind up in the top twenty. Hell, I actually thought it was going to be in the top ten. That's how ridiculous this moment was. And I knew it was going to be one of the centerpieces of the Funny 115.

But, alas, when I started actually sorting out the moments for the countdown, I was surprised to find that Bubba's exit wasn't quite as funny as I remembered it. Oh sure, it was still goofy and completely ridiculous, yet it didn't have the "Oh man that was great!" factor that so many other moments on this list did. So sadly, I had to drop Bubba's Boner down to #54. I still wish this moment would have ended up being higher, but there is so much stiff competition at this level that I just couldn't justify moving him up any higher than this.

But don't worry about him. I think Bubba will be just fine. And if not? Well, as he himself famously said during Survivor: Vanuatu, he can build a bridge and get over it.

Bubba exalts!

Oh yeah, in case you don't remember Bubba's exit from Vanuatu, here is what happened. To this day it remains one of my all-time favorite doofus moves in Survivor history.


It was episode five in Vanuatu and the tribes had just been through the big twist. The genders had been "divvied up" by Sarge and Scout, and poor Bubba now found himself a minority on the mostly-female tribe of Yasur.

The Vanuatu tribal swap

Bubba's new tribe. Estrogen city.

After the twist, Yasur now consisted of Bubba, Rory, and five females. And you know what that meant. That meant that the big man in the Bob Barker shirt was now pretty much screwed. He was a hostage. Because in a season that was as gender-divided as Vanuatu, Rory and Bubba were now officially living on borrowed time. It was only a matter of which one of the two of them would be going home first. And queen bee Ami (of the Yasurs) even confirmed this for us.

Ami tells us that Rory and Bubba might as well not even get unpacked

But Bubba had a plan to get out of this dilemma. The man was a cunning strategist, you see. Oh sure, he might not have looked the part, what with the bright red hair, the wobbly off-kilter run, and the faded orange Bob Barker shirt... but Bubba knew how he could save his own skin.

All he had to do was wait for the next immunity challenge. Because at the challenge, Bubba was going to "secretly" pass a message to his former tribesmates, and tell them that they had to throw the challenge. All Bubba had to do was somehow get Chris or Sarge's attention before the challenge, he had to somehow catch their eye, and then everything would be fine. Bubba's ninja-like mastery of stealth would somehow take care of the rest.

The big orange ninja

So the first (post-twist) immunity challenge came around, and Bubba finally got the chance he was hoping for. The two teams met each other on the sand, and Bubba now had a chance to manipulate the outcome of this game. Because there was Chris. And there was Sarge. And there was Chad. And they were all within earshot. So all Bubba had to do now was somehow pass them a message. He had to tell the men of Lopevi to throw this challenge. And he had to somehow do it stealthily, so that the women of Yasur would never catch on.

And what method did Bubba employ? What stealth tactics did our master strategist use to communicate with his allies on the opposing tribe?

Why he simply turned and talked to them!

Bubba passes his "secret" message to Lopevi. "THROW THE CHALLENGE!"

Bubba turned to Chris, in full view and earshot of just about every single person in Vanuatu, and he said "Chris, remember the merge. Just do what you have to do. Remember the merge!" And that was that. Bubba didn't even try to disguise what he was trying to do. He might as well have just held up a sign.


Of course, Ami saw and heard this entire exchange. Hell, she would have had to have been Helen Keller not to. After all, Bubba had practically been standing right next to her! She simply turned her head, and watched Bubba pass a forbidden message. And that meant that... somehow... amazingly... the big man's much-ballyhooed stealth tactics had failed. He had just been busted by the queen bee herself. He couldn't have done a worse job being sneaky if he had tried. Hell, I actually think I heard Bubba pass this message, and I was sitting in my living room all the way in California.

So that was that. Bubba got caught trying to "secretly" pass a message. Chris and the Lopevis refused to throw the challenge. And you can guess what happened to poor misguided Bubba. His team lost immunity and he was now up shit creek without the proverbial paddle.

Lopevi! Wins immunity!

Jeff informs Yasur they will be going to Tribal Council. Note Bubba's reaction.

Oh poopy

Now, Ami already didn't want either of the guys around. That much was obvious. And since Bubba had so memorably just slit his own throat, it was a safe bet to say that he wasn't going to be around for very much longer. Ami even confirmed this for us in one of the best confessionals of the season:

"Do you think Michael Jordan goes out there on the basketball court, and tells the other team what plays they are going to run?"

"People will get themselves voted out. You don't even have to do anything. They'll do it for you."

Bubba tries to save his own skin by pleading with Ami. Yeah, whatever.

And of course, the inevitable ended up happening. Because later that night, in possibly the least surprising Tribal Council vote in Survivor history, Bubba was bounced from the tribe by the Yasur women. They unanimously voted to send the big orange man packing.

But I do have to give Bubba credit for what he did at Tribal Council just before he was voted out. Because not only did he try to wiggle out of the hole he had created for himself (no matter how futile it was), he actually tried to deny the allegations that he had somehow passed a message.

This is my favorite part of the Bubba experience, by the way.

Despite the fact that he had clearly and audibly passed a message to the Lopevis, and despite the fact that Ami clearly saw and heard him do it, Bubba actually tried to deny that he had done anything when the subject came up at Tribal Council. When Ami brought up the subject that Bubba had been conspiring with the Lopevis, Bubba got this really shocked and indignant look on his face, as if to say "Me? Pass a message? What??" And it always cracks me up to watch him try to deny something there was no possible way he could deny.

"I saw Bubba passing a message to the Lopevis."

Bubba's reaction. "What?????"

The inevitable

Bubba's spirited (yet ridiculous) denial was like watching a five-year-old with chocolate smears on his face try to deny that he had been in the cookie jar. And that's the image I will always remember when I think about Bubba. I will always remember his scoffing, overacted reaction to Ami's allegations that she had seen him passing a message.

Message? Me? Are you crazy?

The minute he was cast on the show, Bubba was destined to go down as one of the most colorful characters in the annals of Survivor. And sure, he may not have quite lived up to his potential in the end, but I will always love the way he blatantly dug his own hole on his way out. And then how he actually tried to deny it.

Even though it only ranks in at #54, I am proud to say that Bubba's last day on Yasur remains one of my all time favorite Survivor exits.

Oh well.

P.S. If I had to make a list of "The players who got exactly what they deserved on their final day", or "Players who single-handedly got themselves booted out of the game", it would probably look something like this:

1. Michelle (Pearl Islands)
2. Bubba (Vanuatu)
3. Christy (Amazon)
4. Shii Ann (Thailand)
5. Brianna (Guatemala)

That's quite a list. And quite a list of memorable Survivor moments too. But do you know the one that stands out above all the others? Bubba. Why? Easy, because he's the only one out of the five who actually tried to deny that he had done anything wrong. Everybody else on that list fessed up to what they had done and took their medicine like a champ. But not Bubba. And I always loved that about the guy. I loved Bubba's blind denial in the face of obvious proof. In fact, I dare say it was almost Hogeboomian.

"Sure, I'm Gary Hogeboom. But I'm not the famous one. We just look alike."

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