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CBS Survivor Audition

Ok, here’s the CBS Survivor audition tape people have been asking to see for years. I’ve never shared it before, but what the hell, I’m baring my soul on this website anyway. Plus, I think my friends and former students (and staff) will get a kick out of it. Just thinking about the kids I taught makes me smile because I know a lot of them will watch this and shake their heads remembering the great times we had when I taught at Wausau West and Spencer High Schools.

I’m going to put up the video I made when I applied to the very first season on CBS Survivor… and tell you the story here…

Yep, I know the video quality isn’t the best. I had a 16 year old VHS tape made into a digital file last week. Then I converted that digital file to an MP4. Then I edited it a little and saved a new file. So actually, considering all that, I’d say the quality is decent.

John Yost’s CBS Survivor Audition Tape in 1999

So a buddy of mine I taught science with told me about this new show where they were going to put 16 castaways on a deserted island and made them survive there for seven weeks alone.

He knew no sane person would want to do this, so he figured I’d be perfect. He always used to say, “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus… and Yost is from Pluto.” One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten.

I was one of 10,000 applicants that very first season. I really didn’t know if I had a chance or not. They said they wanted someone different who had a unique lifestyle. If that was true, I was pretty much good to go.

They wanted a 3 minute video about my life: who I was, my family, what made me unique, and why I’d be the ultimate survivor. I had over 70 hours of takes and retakes that I edited down to 3 minutes for the final tape.

About 2 months after I sent the tape in (yes that was back in the day of VHS) I got a call that I made the first cut. They took 50 people from 16 areas around the country and interviewed them, so it was down to 900 people from over 10,000 who applied.

I didn’t tell a soul what was going on, only my girlfriend and a few work friends knew. I called in sick to work and drove from Wausau to Green Bay for the interview.

When I arrived at the interview site, the waiting room had about 30 people all sitting around glancing apprehensively at a single, closed door in the corner of the room where the interviews were being held. The place had that anxious quiet that just makes you uneasy.

Almost everyone looked nervous, as you might expect with $1,000,000 on the line. But, there were a few guys acting overly confident… and I didn’t like the competition. Of the 50 people there, they were only going to pick 3 of us for the final interview in Los Angeles. I figured if I was going to make it out of this interview, I’d have to make a splash and not just trickle in.

So, as I walked into the room, I said good and loud so everyone could hear me, “So, everyone here is here for the Survivor interview, right?” They all nodded as I continued, “And you understand this is going to be physically demanding, right?” A scattering of people nod.

“Good,” I say, “you all understand this will test you mentally and physically, right?” A few nods here and there. “Great,” I continued, “Because we are going to see what you’ve got. Everybody up!”

A few people stood up but most of them just looked around like they were lost and wondering if this was for real. “Everyone up!” I shouted.

They all got up.

“Okay,” I said, “let do some jumping jacks, and count them out… LOUD!”

I think we got to eight with all 30 of these people jumping up and down shouting “One, two, three, four…” in the middle of the hotel before that lone door in the corner opened.

Out pops the bewildered heads of the guys running the interviews. They didn’t know what the hell was going on, but there’s me in the front of the room running what appears to be a fitness class. I explain to them that we are doing some calisthenics to see who’s got what it takes. 🙂

I splashed.

Go big or go home. They wanted risk takers, I gave them one.

Right there they decided to skip ahead and bring me in next. Most of the interviews were about 15 minutes, I was in there for almost an hour… telling stories, laughing and feeling these guys out. I was pretty much a shoo-in for the next interview in Los Angeles.

At that point there were only 48 of us left out the original 10,000+. I arrive to the first meeting in LA late because I got lost, shocker, and when I get to the room there’s no seats left. There is one incredible looking brunette sitting two seats in from the end though. And always being one to see an opportunity when there isn’t one, I…

Crap… I want to get this up and online right now so I’m going to post this and finish the story later.


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