Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Coby Archa almost tried to burn the camp down in Palau
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
“My mind melted.” That’s how Coby Archa sums up his downfall on Survivor: Palau, and he’s not wrong. But while Coby may have come mentally and emotionally undone by the grueling experience, he surprised both viewers and himself with a series of strong challenge performances. He was also one of the more colorful characters in what turned out to be the stellar season of Survivor. And it was almost even more colorful.
In his Quarantine Questionnaire, Coby reveals that he almost burned down the camp while the others were out fishing. He also tells us about some serious drama regarding the flint that never made it to TV. Coby pulls no punches as he talks about his proudest moment, his biggest regret, how he feels about his edit, as well as the seasons he doesn’t like and the people with whom he would never want to play. It’s all here. The table is set. Time to dig in.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
COBY ARCHA: Adopting kids. Janu is 15 and Tyler is 10. Falling in love with Justin. Death of my beloved mom, Bonnie. Becoming more famous locally for being Frank-N-Furter every year at Halloween than from being on Survivor.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Sumo at Sea. Going in to play Survivor in 2005, we weren’t expecting things to be that physical (remember it was still Old School). I went into the game thinking my mind would be awesome and my body would be mush. Turns out it was the opposite: My mind melted and my body wouldn’t stop. At the time, the medical team said I was the healthiest person to ever play. I had no bug bites, no cramps, you just don’t know what your body can do out there... until you DO IT!
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Not making the family visit! Like I said, my mom has passed away, but at the time, she was the one. She got her shots and had her plane ticket, ready to go! Two days before she was to leave, the producers called and told her they decided “not to do a family visit this year.” My mom replied, “I am not stupid. He got voted out!” Bonnie was awesome, the fans would have loved her, and I will always regret that.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Dang, hard to pick just one. But when the boat tipped over on day three (which Ian still blames me for), we lost our box with the flint in it at the bottom of the sea. Tom and Ian found it and rescued it, which was a miracle enough. They brought it back to the beach, but unbeknownst to them, the saltwater had dissolved the striking rod loose from the flint. We couldn’t find it. We had to search for that small pencil lead sized 3-inch striker on our entire beach like a needle in a haystack. Well, I found it! It really shows how strong and stubborn Koror was — we wouldn’t give up.
P.S. To blow minds with what could have been — I was gonna burn the camp down when everyone went fishing without me. Imagine Tom and Co. pulling around the bend with me sitting in Buddha pose on the beach as our camp burned to the ground.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I always felt extremely lucky that they showed so much of my story. Poor Jenn wasn’t even shown until, like, episode 7. The only part of my story they left out was my bond with Janu. Once I was voted out, Janu carried all my things around (even to Exile Island) and brought them to me because she wanted me to have my things.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
There was shock, and it was HUGE. We came back right before Christmas and all the artifice of that was overwhelming. Survivor reduces you to know what life is REALLY about, which is shelter, food, family — that’s it. Even being a hairstylist seemed like I wasn’t doing enough for mankind. It took a while to get back to “normal,” whatever that is. Reflecting back now, it’s kind of sad I didn’t make bigger longer-term changes.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Bitch, please! My only regret would be not being able to play again. You hear that, Jeff Probst? And maybe I regret not burning down the camp, or at least Tom’s clothes.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Jennifer Lyon was my number one. I moved to California partly because of her. I was lucky enough to be friends with her until the end. Everything that made Katie Gallagher annoying on the island makes her awesome in real life. Kimberly Mullen is also an incredible person. I also talk to Janu, Caryn, Jeff, Jolanda, Stephenie, Bobby Jon — LOL, basically everyone but Tom and Ian. I am so social, it’s sad.
P.S. Nobody can find Willard, Angie, or Ashlee. If anyone hears from them, call me.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
Dur. Heroes vs. Villains had a great cast! (And maybe I delighted in watching Tom and Steph crash and burn. Am I petty?) I think I played New School before it was cool, so have enjoyed those seasons that create new voting techniques.
P.S. I have watched every season whole except 2...
Redemption Island — because it seemed cast for Rob to win.
Edge of Extinction — because I HATED people returning! It is so far from Old School it makes my head hurt.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
The list is LOOONG! And full of nothing but strong women!
Sandra, of course.
It’s a long list, so that’s just the tip. (Yes, I meant that to sound dirty).
Who would I hate to play with? Any Hantz or Corinne... that’s all the ink I am wasting on them.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
As much as I love to complain about how much the game has changed, you can’t deny it’s been 20 years and Survivor is as big as ever. The fan base has always been huge but with the quarantine and people streaming I am getting fan mail all over again. It has been 15 years and I still get fan mail... how cool is that?
Finally, would you play again if asked?
YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes Yes
Call Me Jeff Probst YesYesYesYesYeYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
P.S. Know your brand, mine is desperation!