‘Survivor’ Castaway Jacob – ‘I’m Worried They’ll Think I’m an Evil Genius and Try to Get Rid of Me’


“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Jacob Derwin
Age: 22
Hometown: Merrick, New York
Current residence: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Music Teacher

Gordon Holmes: Robin Williams is one of your inspirations in life. He always struck me as a comedian who didn’t know how to pull back. He was always going a mile a minute. That could be a problem out here.
Jacob Derwin: The example I always say is I watched “Aladdin” so many times as a kid. When I was little. I’m only 22…so…
Holmes: When I was little…like last year.
Derwin: (Laughs)
Holmes: For the record, those are the same jokes I make to (“Hollywood Reporter” writer) Josh Wigler.
Derwin: I’m excited to talk to him too! Literally the Genie is my sense of humor. I’m going to reel it back because I don’t want to annoy people. But if I had my way I’d be constantly referencing everything, making as many voices as possible. The ability to be family friendly, and then turn around and do a stand-up special where he pretends to (expletive deleted) things with his water bottle. That stuff is unbelievable to me.

Holmes: You also say that you’re charming to some and punchable to others. I think the ability to know when you’re punchable is key out here.
Derwin: Absolutely. The ability to reel it in is really important. I know I can never stop talking sometimes. So, knowing when to shut up is a big deal. And luckily, we’ve been together for a few days and I feel like for the most part when you smile at people they smile back. When you laugh at something, they look and laugh back. When you make a funny noise, they seem like they want to have a communal experience. So, as long as there is a general environment and feel of “I want to have fun with this” I’ll be fine. If things start getting like, “I just want to lay on the beach with these hot chicks…” we’re not going to get along. I know I’m going to be the dorky kid that they’re going to want to punch in the face.
Holmes: Good thing there aren’t any lockers around here.
Derwin: (Laughs) I haven’t fit in a locker in many years.
Holmes: (Laughs) I am sitting here picturing you at Ponderosa making funny noises.
Derwin: (Laughs) Honestly! I literally made a fart noise at one point and three different people got the giggles. Good! Beautiful!
Holmes: If I ever reach an age where I can’t laugh at a fart, just take me out. Snuff my torch.
Derwin: Yup, doesn’t matter anymore. I agree so much.

Holmes: You are a “Survivor” blogger?
Derwin: Yes.
Holmes: I don’t understand why anyone would choose to write about this horrific show.
Derwin: (Laughs)
Holmes: So, obviously you’re a super fan?
Derwin: Yes.
Holmes: It seems like the super fans have been having some success lately.
Derwin: I honestly think that’s how I got on the show. I introduced myself to Probst as the next in the evolution of the nerdy “Survivor” player. We’ve had a lot of great ones. Adam’s a great example. Maybe another young, 20-something Jewish kid can pull this off.
Holmes: And he just smoked me in the Power Rankings.
Derwin: He knows this game. I can’t even say I’m that good. Some people know how the edits work, I don’t. I went to Broadcast Journalism school, so I know to a point. I understand pacing and storytelling. But I pay more attention to the people than the screen time that they get. That stuff I’m not great at, even though I write a prediction blog. I’ve been watching this since I was four.
Holmes: Are you going to keep the blogging a secret?
Derwin: I’m afraid at least one or two people can figure it out. I’m assuming they were looking up every blog to prepare. To find me in particular is very hard because you have to go to a very specific blog on a niche site. You have to go to my bio and look for my picture. If you can find that, then good on them. We can talk about it. I don’t think it’ll be an issue. I’m not going to bring it up.
Holmes: Is there anything else about your backstory that you’re going to change or keep a secret?
Derwin: It depends on everybody else. This looks like a really young cast to me. Is anyone under 35? Maybe some people just look good for their ages. I was going to lie about my age because I feel like a lot of times I’m a kid compared to some of these people. They probably don’t want to lose to a kid.

Note: A CBS representative swings by to deliver Gordon’s lunch.

Holmes: Important question; who is your favorite CBS representative? And why is it Chrissy?
Derwin: (Laughs) Well, she brings chicken sandwiches.
Holmes: She does.
Derwin: And chips that I can’t quite make out the flavor.
Holmes: Sour cream and onion.
Derwin: Nice! I’ve seen some pretty weird flavors in the snack box. There was a straight-up chicken flavor and I think a balsamic vinegar flavor. I don’t know if I’d be into that.
Holmes: You have 39 days to think about it. Back to your age.
Derwin: Yeah, I’m lying about my age. I’m going to check. If people say they’re 21, then I have no problem with my age. And I just turned 22 two days ago.
Holmes: Happy birthday!
Derwin: Thank you. But if I am a younger person here, I’ll say I’m 26.
Holmes: The beard helps.
Derwin: Yeah, and when I lose the beard I look 15. But all the producers thought I was older.
Holmes: I’m picturing one of those rewards where you get a night on a boat and you shower and shave. And you get back to the beach and you’re like…
Derwin and Holmes: “Oh (expletive deleted).”
Derwin: Other than that, I don’t think anyone’s going to care about my job. Teaching religious music to kids? That’s not a threat.

Holmes: You’re a hardcore fan. I’m assuming you have no problems lying, cheating, or stealing.
Derwin: I’m going to start slow. I know me and I’m scared that I’m going to hit the beach and I’m going to go too far too fast. I’m already not athletic. I already have enough things going against me. The last thing I need to be is annoying…or over strategizing and sneaky. I’m not going to lie for the sake of lying. I’ll use it to propel myself forward or to get myself out of trouble.
Holmes: There’s usually a good reason why someone’s first. They’re an (expletive deleted), they don’t help, they’re abrasive, they go too fast. Just don’t be that person.
Derwin: Watching “Game Changers” where Ciera went out first because she said a name first. That scares me a little bit. We haven’t seen 35 yet and people tend to play like the last season they saw. So, there’s going to be people here who try to emulate Sarah. I’m being very cautious of who people are trying to emulate.
Holmes: Are you open to flirting to get ahead?
Derwin: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m trying to set a behavioral baseline. Everyone gets these questions.
Derwin: I haven’t had a girlfriend in a while. So, I’m not an expert in that. People have called me “Flirty.” I’m a loving person. People like to be complimented, not in a creepy way. There’s a girl here whose eyebrows cut you when you look at them. And I’m sure she worked her ass off make them look that way. So, when I talk to her, I’ll probably say, “Your eyebrows look ridiculously amazing. My sister plucked mine before I came out here.” Some people might call that flirting, but I’m just trying to make people feel like they can talk to me. I am openly nice to people.

Holmes: You’re in the dark as far as twists and themes. What do you think you’re up against?
Derwin: Coming in I thought it was “Millennials vs. Gen-X 2.” But I think the cast is too young. I don’t know. Maybe “Survivor: Insert Island Chain”

Holmes: Are you having any “Survivor” stress dreams?
Derwin: Ever since I was four. Honestly, not really. I’ve practiced everything I can practice. I’ve tied and untied knots. I’ve thought about strategy and gameplay. I’ve worked on myself. I’ve lost 30 pounds. I’ve probably never been in a better spot in my life to come out here and do well.

Holmes: Has this been everything you thought it would be?
Derwin: Just being out here is so…
Holmes: No no no…is this (motions to himself) everything you dreamed it would be.
Derwin: (Laughs) It’s a grand old time. I’ll admit I was excited to meet you.
Holmes: Flattery, my friend, will get you everywhere. Well, you know I like my games.
Derwin: Yes.
Holmes: It’s pretty sweet. I sit back and you do all the work. I’ll give you two “Survivor” situations. You tell me which one you would prefer.
Derwin: Oh no.
Holmes: Yeah, too bad. Would you rather align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Derwin: I voted for Clinton, so that’s an easy question. And Trump supporters are not always the most together.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Derwin: Wow…I hope neither are in play. Steal a vote has not worked. I’d rather eliminate a juror.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Derwin: Word puzzles are my thing.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Derwin: No answer is going to be good.
Holmes: I’m not saying you like these people.
Derwin: I feel like I could maybe get the racist to work on himself where the sexist I don’t know if I can do a lot about it.
Holmes: Voted out first or right before final Tribal?
Derwin: Before final Tribal. My nightmare scenario is getting voted out first. I’m here for the experience and it’d be a real bummer to only get to do it for three days.
Holmes: Align with a tax cheat or an adulterer?
Derwin: (Laughs) Does anyone pick the adulterer?
Holmes: I can’t say. I’m not Martin (Jacob’s blogging partner) out here spoiling stuff. I’m focused on the integrity of this game.
Derwin: (Laughs) I’ll go with the tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take?
Derwin: Lose and my Dad’s going to hate me for saying that. I didn’t tell him that, because he’s my guy. I didn’t tell him that I’m going to throw that challenge. Well, I probably don’t need to throw it. Best case is to get picked by the winner so you’re not to blame.
Holmes: Watch the challenge is like, play some Jewish religious music.
Derwin: Or it’s a Tower of Hanoi. I can do that in about ten seconds. To be fair, if they present me with a challenge that’s that easy. I’ll just win it. But in general I don’t want to win the family visit.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or caught idol hunting?
Derwin: People have stolen food and gotten away with it. I’ll say stealing food.
Holmes: Align with a super fan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Derwin: I was wondering if it’s “Survivor: Super Fans” because why else would I be here?
Holmes: You’ve got 20 Max Dawsons running around.
Derwin: (Laughs) Well, when you play with people who know the game, you can kind of predict what they’re going to do. They’re going to make the best decision. Whereas if you’re with new players, they could be like, “He’s the only one who knows how the game works. Get him!” I think I’d rather play with a bunch of super fans.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke?
Derwin: Karaoke! You kidding me? I can belt out something fun.
Holmes: What’s your go-to jam?
Derwin: “I Only Want to Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish.

Holmes: What do you think people think of you when they first see you.
Derwin: I hope the first impression of me is he’s a funny, goofy guy that I can have a good time with. I’m concerned that there are a few people here who are thinking, “Look at that pudgy guy. He looks kind of klutzy. We should get rid of him early.” And people assume if you’re not in great shape that you’re a schemer and that’s how you got on the show. I’ve been looking around, I’ve been taking notes in my notebook…
Holmes: I’ve been twisting my mustache.
Derwin: No, I trimmed it before I got here.
Holmes: What the hell kind of villain are you?
Derwin: I don’t think I’m a villain. But, I’m worried they’ll think I’m an evil genius and try to get rid of me before I get into their brains.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Jacob a picture of each of the competitors and asked him to share his first impressions.


Derwin: She’s like the most typical looking “Survivor” bikini babe I’ve ever seen in my life. And she seems sweet and she’s been reading a Malcolm Gladwell book at Ponderosa. So, she’s clearly not an idiot or trying to not look like an idiot.
And she’s holding it right-side up?
Yes! She is reading it.
OK, that’s good.
So, she clearly has a brain in her head. She’s making eyebrow looks at too many people. She does it to everyone. I’m a little afraid there are going to be a couple of boneheads who are going to get wrapped around her finger.


Derwin: I haven’t got a great read on her. She’s not expressive. She’s been in her coloring book or walking around. Maybe she’s a little paranoid.


Derwin: Eyebrows! I saw her in casting and I didn’t think much of her. Look at your fake red hair. And then we got here and she’s reading “Game of Thrones” and I’m thinking, “Wait! I’m reading a Patrick Rothfuss book! Wait!” Every time I see her reading, I take my book and try to get her attention.
Be my best friend!
I think she might be a really cool person and I feel bad for judging her during finals.


Derwin: When we got to the airport, she was wearing a black shirt with a dragon on the back. I was thinking, Daughter of Coach. And she’s very stoic. She doesn’t smile a lot. She scares me a little bit. She seems strong. I don’t think I want to work with her immediately. She might be too controlling.


Derwin: She seems sweet. She seems pouty. She seems like the kind of person who will happily laugh with you at your misfortunes. But, the moment something happens to her it ain’t funny. She knocked something into me in the airport and we laughed over it. But, she’s always under the fan at Ponderosa. I don’t know if she totally knows what she’s getting into.


Derwin: I love her. Great energy. Super bubbly and I don’t think she’s faking it.


Derwin: I like her too. She’s reading a lot. Seems like she’s educated and smart. She smiles at me when I smile at her.


Derwin: She’s cool. She seems strong, she has muscles, she’s tall. I don’t have a great read on who she is.


Derwin: She reminds me of my more bookish friends. We had a moment over tea at Ponderosa. I think we have a lot in common.


Derwin: She’s cool. She reminds me of some of the people I worked with when I worked at a college radio station.


Derwin: Definitely a fellow super fan. I think he’s worried about his ability to communicate because he’s reading a book called “The Sympathizer.” I don’t know what’s in that book, it could be a fiction thing.


Derwin: He was wearing a Sub Pop shirt and a Third Man Records shirt and I’m a huge music guy. I know all about those labels. So, if he’s involved or if he’s a fan of that stuff we’ll be able to connect. He’s very stoic. He walks slowly. He takes his time.


Derwin: Yup…yup…wait this isn’t the guy with the “Honor” tattoo. There are two guys here with the same bodies and different heads.
Holmes: There was a sale on those bodies.
Derwin: Scared that he’ll lead a charge against the not pretty people.


Derwin: (Laughs) This is the most typical “Survivor”-looking person.
Holmes: I can’t believe you come out here and are shocked that people that look like they belong on “Survivor” end up on “Survivor.”
Derwin: (Laughs) I know! You always expect one and he’s the one. He sells surfboards in California somewhere. You have an eight-pack and he and the girl that is reading the Gladwell book are always sitting at the same table.


Derwin: Don’t have a great read on him. He seems cool, he seems nice. He’s in great shape. We have similar hair. (Laughs)



Derwin: I might’ve found this guy online before the show. I did a lot of searching between finals and coming out here, I spent hours online.
Holmes: How would you even get their names?
Derwin: Avatars. I see who’s following who. Who’s following people on the show. I scroll and scroll until I see someone familiar. He was a little different. At finals I had a thought that he was a runner because he has a runner’s body. My cousin’s a tri-athlete. I started looking up runners and I think he’s a track and field guy from Harvard. If that’s the case, great. He seems like a graceful dude. I’d love to work with him. But he’d kick my ass in the end.


Derwin: He’s probably my age. Another strong guy, who I don’t know if he has a personality or not.


Derwin: This is a big super fan. We’re the people out here who aren’t in the best shape. He seems really pumped. He’s looking at everything with a little awe in his eyes.


Derwin: When I saw him at finals and they asked me who’s going to win if it’s not you. I said him. He has these moments where he’s super reserved. But the moment he starts communicating, you want to be around him. When we were casting, he gave this big swipe of the brow and we all chuckled. He has a way to get a crowd on his side.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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