‘Survivor: One World’ interview: Greg ‘Tarzan’ Smith talks strategy


Tarzan has quite a vocabulary.

In many seasons of doing “Survivor” conference calls, we’re not quite sure that we have ever heard anyone who is quite as verbose as Greg “Tarzan” Smith. Our brief chat Thursday was chock full of medical terminology, talk about Colton Cumbie’s bowel movements, and also an explanation into how exactly he was trying to operate from a strategic point of view within the game.

Brace yourselves — even though the game is no longer afoot, Tarzan still had plenty to say. (If you see the length of the answers, then you’ll understand why I was only able to ask two questions.)

Cartermatt.com – So what has the response been like to you when it comes to friends or people you meet on the street?

I measure my friends all my life very carefully, and of the friends that I have, they know me very well — so of course, their response is going to be sincerely highly favorable.

I understand that they have to edit the show — it’s only 42 minutes — and one of the things [they didn’t show] is that I caught with my trap six chickens. I devised that trap — I got no credit. I’m a guy that saved the pig, but who gets credit for that? Kim. I made a comb for the girls — all I get is chastised for it. It looks like I’m just chewing on bamboo, but I’m making [the] fibers for the comb soft. I combed Troyzan’s hair, [Jay’s] hair, and even my own hair with that comb, and I didn’t get credit for making it and got chastised for it like ‘what’s that fool doing all day chewing on a piece of bamboo?’. I was making a comb because everyone was complaining about not being able to comb their hair, and I was helping them.

I was [also] the waterboy. I was the scientist that made sure the water would not [damage] them by boiling it for ten minutes. I had a few denigrating moments where I was accused of having poopy panties and things of that sort, but if you knew the full story it was totally unfair. To defend myself well enough to be understood would have caused some anger from those trying to denigrate me, and it was in my best interest to allow myself to be denigrated.

There were [also] a few things [that I did in order to not take myself] too seriously, and to make the tribe think that I was not as smart as I might be.

So when Colton left the game, how badly did that end up damaging or changing the way in which you played the game?

Colton is very bright. There was a moment — the females didn’t like him, and the males hated him. I felt sorry for him, [and] being a doctor I tend to do that … I don’t think you guys knew I had a six-inch laceration down to the periosteum of my tibia on my left leg the second day of that game, and it took 20 days to heal and became secondarily infected.

Anyways, I made Colton feel way better, and I told him ‘listen, you can run reconnaissance since you know the girls and it can help the guys. You can enter the cadre of the guys — myself, Leif, Jonas, you, and Troyzan. We’re the weak guys and we know that. We’re probably going to win when it comes to tribal council, and it helps us against the cadre of the girls,’ since at that point in time I knew what that cadre was also. He listened to me, he believed me that I would protect him down to five, and he joined us and ran reconnaissance. There’s a couple of scenes when we were on the second Manono [tribe] where he played out the plot that I had, and it ended in attracting Alicia to us, and getting Monica totally blindsided — [following] which she went into a tirade that you didn’t see, but it went on like 30 minutes. (Laughs.) She couldn’t believe she got kicked out.

[When it comes to Colton’s injury], I didn’t get to examine him, but he was dehydrated. He wasn’t sleeping well, he hadn’t pooped much, and the probability [is] that baterial enteritis has a differential diagnosis, and on an island like that it is not due to [region] or to Chron’s disease. It’s likely that [it was] proliferation of bacteria withholding gas, which will stretch the large bowel, the secum near the appendix or the splenic flexure near the spleen. There was significant pain … all he complained about was a headache, so I really didn’t know he had an abdominal problem.

I’m a surgeon of 30+ years — I’ve done trauma surgery, gunshot wounds, knife stabs, and I’m a plastic surgeon. I’m certified in both of those things. If I had just been able to examine him, maybe I could have been clever enough to say ‘wait a minute. The probability here is that if we give you a lot of water [it could help]’ … but at that point your mineral deficiency is also low, and I didn’t even feel his pulse. He could have been tachycardic or his pulse could have been real rapid, and maybe I could have saved him. I needed him.

When my shield was lost, I guess the production staff realized that ‘hey, if we join them it will be 6 to 6 [with the genders]; we will start anew.’ I believe that if Troyzan had stayed aligned and remained in the nucleus that we were [in] and the cadre stayed together, it would have been a very boring show with the girls all gone and us guys fighting amongst ourselves. It was going that way, and possibly had they not joined us that early we can have entered that [with a higher advantage] … we had a cadre with enough members mathematically that we probably could have taken out Christina next. I did [have respect for] Alicia since she was smart enough to join the boys on Manono [after the swap]. I really didn’t want her to go, and I felt that the fact she [joined] us was smart for her.

Out of the remaining castaways, who are you rooting for to win — and just how much of Tarzan’s medical terminology above did you understand?

Photo: CBS


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