10 Tips for Surviving “Survivor”

By Tom Comi

It’s always been said that two of the things you can count on in life are death and taxes, but I would like to add a third item to that list. Like clockwork, you can tune in to the current season of “Survivor” and watch the contestants make the same boneheaded mistakes as their predecessors in the first 20 installments.

Seriously, do these people not watch the show? And if they do, how could they possibly not learn from the ill-fated decisions of the hundreds of participants before them? It really is mind-boggling that the same dumb decisions have been committed since the first season when the infamous Richard Hatch was introduced to the world.

With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the top 10 no-nos when playing this game. And because I’ve already given up hope on the folks stranded in Nicaragua, this is aimed at all of you “Survivor” wannabees for future seasons.

Jimmy Johnson stepped up as leader

Follow the Leader: Never under any circumstances should you ever accept a leadership role. It’s been proven time and time again that the contestants with the biggest bull’s-eyes are the ones who attempt to take charge. Leaders may win in real life, but it’s the followers who more often than not win this game.

Fly Solo Early On: Why do some people try to form alliances on the very first day? One female contestant this season didn’t even know the name of the woman she was trying to befriend. Nothing says desperation more than trying to cozy up early in the game. Sit back for the first few days and observe your tribe. Then figure out who you want to hop in bed with moving forward.

Dress for Success: It never ceases to amaze me what some people will bring with them to wear on an island. Seriously, what was the dude thinking this season when he brought a $1,600 pair of alligator shoes? And unless you want your private parts blurred out on national TV, try wearing a bathing suit that fits snuggly. As Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work!”

Don’t Let the Idol Go Idle: One of the biggest faux pas ever was when James the gravedigger dug his own grave by going home with not one but two immunity idols in his pocket.  Show me a person holding onto an idol for a rainy day, and I’ll show you a person eating their next meal at the craft service table with the CBS staff.

Idol, Part II: The next biggest mistake after not playing an idol is telling other people you have one. Nobody is your friend on that island, so telling somebody curries you no favor whatsoever. In fact, it only makes you a bigger target. Trust me, if you tell one person you have the idol, the entire tribe will know within two hours. My kids can keep a secret longer than these people.

Shannon Elkins couldn't shut up, and it cost him.

Shut Up, Already!: When will contestants learn to keep their mouths shut in camp and at tribal council? It’s no coincidence that the first two people voted off this season were Wendy the goat rancher and Shannon the pest control guy. What did they have in common? Neither one of them could keep their traps shut at tribal council. Game over.

Quit Whining!: I can’t stand bugs, sand, rain, insomnia and food deprivation. Wanna know how I avoid those things? I don’t sign up to be a contestant on “Survivor.” For those who are brave and/or dumb enough to apply, you have forfeited your right to bitch about the conditions. You asked to be stranded on an island for the chance to win a million bucks, so suck it up! And please spare me talk about how it is harder than you anticipated. The people in Season 1 can use that excuse. We are in Season 21 now, for crying out loud.

Don’t Provoke Probst: Host Jeff Probst doesn’t get to vote at tribal council every week, but he can make you look mighty silly in front of your fellow castaways if you disrespect him. Likewise, he can go fairly easy on the contestants he likes. You can form many good alliances in this game, but make sure the little man with the buffs is one of them.

She Doesn’t Like You: Nothing is sadder than watching an attractive female contestant in a bikini toy with a male contestant who thinks he found his soul mate. Rob and Amber might have found love on the show, but they are exception to this rule. And just in case you had any doubts about her motives, remember this: Your teeth are yellow, your hair is greasy and your body stench makes a dumpster smell like potpourri.

Ready, Aim, Fire!: It’s sad that we even have to mention this one, but it’s also amazing that probably 95 percent of the show’s competitors over the last 20 seasons can’t start, build or even maintain a fire. I don’t care if you burn your house down practicing, this should be an absolute must for all contestants. If you can’t manage that, then maybe you should go on “The Apprentice” so Donald Trump can fire your dumb a–.

“Survivor: Nicaragua” airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on CBS.


  1. Enjoyed the cadence and wit of the article, even though I don’t watch Survivor… keep up the good work

  2. AMEN! Every tip makes perfect sense. I sometimes wonder if some of the contestants have ever watched past episodes. I think not. Idiots.

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