Alone is a reality show in which people with advanced survival skills are dropped into the wilderness with limited supplies. Jonas lasted 77 days near the Arctic Circle.



And now the game where people with a particular set of skills suddenly find they have no use for them. It's called Not My Job. "Alone" is a reality show in which people with advanced survival skills are dropped into the wilderness with limited supplies and cameras to film themselves, and the one who lasts the longest wins half a million dollars. The winner of the most recent season was Jordan Jonas, who not only lasted 77 days by himself in the Arctic but actually seemed to be having such a good time he didn't want to leave.

Jordan, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

JORDAN JONAS: Why, hello. Good to be here.

SAGAL: It's a pleasure to have you here. So for people who don't know the show, I described it. The idea is this is a show that was, I think, originally on the History Channel. And they pick you up, and they just drop you someplace.

JONAS: Yeah, it is. They just dump you off somewhere in the middle of the wilderness.

SAGAL: I imagine, first of all, that the legal disclaimer you have to sign must be the size of an encyclopedia...

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Right?

JONAS: Yeah, of course, nobody read that, but we did sign it.

PETER GROSZ: (Laughter).

JONAS: But then they basically just set the helicopter down, give you the boot, and that's it. You have a tap out button when you're ready to quit, and you just try to survive and film it while you're doing it.

SAGAL: What instructions were you given? Were you said, you got to film everything?

JONAS: Oh, yeah, we were given - you know, they give you a quick rundown of the camera as an orientation before they send you out so you kind of get the basics. And then, yeah, they tell you every waking moment, you've got to be filming. They give you a few different cameras. You know, if you run out of batteries, they'll do a blind drop where they come set batteries on the shore, and you go pick them up. And, yeah, if they find you're not filming enough, you'll hear from them (laughter).

SAGAL: Really? You're sitting there freezing to death in the wilderness, and somebody knocks on your tent and says, excuse me...

JONAS: It's usually during the medical checks. Yeah. Yeah. (Unintelligible).

SAGAL: And so - and, yeah, you mentioned these medical checks. Like, once a week, they just show up, and they make sure you're not dying.

JONAS: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. They weigh you, make sure you can continue. If you start to have any signs of organ failure (laughter) or anything like that, they might pull you out.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

GROSZ: But it's only once a week, right?

JONAS: That's right. It's, like, roughly - usually more than that, maybe 10 days.

GROSZ: So it's up to you. It's truly just up to you to, like, monitor yourself and know...

JONAS: It really is. They do a really good - it's pretty legit as far as what it's advertised as. They do a good job of - well, it's a good job of just (laughter) leaving you out there.

BRIAN BABYLON: Like, what - how do you know that you're good at that? Like, did you grow up being just a orphan knowing, like, oh yeah? I can live on the streets.

JONAS: (Laughter).

BABYLON: I know. I know this life.

JONAS: Yeah. I've lived for a bunch of years in Siberia with some native nomadic reindeer herding folks.


JONAS: I learned a lot of skills from them.

GROSZ: Wait. You just did that for fun.

JONAS: Yeah. (Laughter) You could you could call it that, maybe (laughter).

BABYLON: That sounds like the sequel to "The Revenant."

JONAS: (Laughter) "The Revenant" felt very familiar. Yeah (laughter). Yeah, look at that.

SAGAL: Did you, like, casually drop that on your competitors during that orientation...

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Where you're, just, oh, yeah. I haven't been outside this much since I lived for five years...

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...With nomadic reindeer herders in the far northern taiga.

GROSZ: And they're all, like, I live in Scottsdale.


JONAS: All they had to do is retort with, yeah, but you look pretty skinny, you know?

SAGAL: Yeah.

JONAS: Put me right in my place (laughter).

SAGAL: I got the sense that you really enjoyed yourself out there.

JONAS: No, I did. I did. Yeah. Honestly, when it ended, I was - I expected it might go twice as long. So I kind of - when it did end, I was kind of asking them if my wife could stay...

SAGAL: Really?


JONAS: ...A while longer out there. It was all set up, and got plenty of food.

SAGAL: Well, wait a minute. All right.

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: So give us a sense of this. So your wife shows up - because they bring your wife out to say you've won. And you say - what would you show your wife? Give us a tour, if you can...

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Of your little campsite.

JONAS: Well, I wanted to show her all the things. I showed her what I was using for toilet paper, which is my roll of rabbits' feet. I had a whole stack of rabbits' feet, which I thought was...

SAGAL: From actual rabbits.

JONAS: Well, you want to use all of the animals. So I would eat pretty much everything. But there's not much you can do with all those rabbits' feet, so they...

BABYLON: Jordan, you have to play the lotto, man.

JONAS: (Laughter).


JONAS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was...

SAGAL: I understand. So what else? Continue the tour.

JONAS: Well, I showed her - took her to tour. I had actually saved her a piece of the moose heart that I was really excited to share with her. But by that time...


JONAS: It had dried up to a point that it was completely unappetizing. But the thought counted.

SAGAL: Everybody knows you want to get the moose heart in the first couple of months. So, yeah, that makes sense.

JONAS: Yeah (laughter).

SAGAL: What else - what else around there?

JONAS: Ought to know. I showed her the little - the food cache that I made. It was like a little hut on stilts because I knew she'd recognize it from Siberia and find it nostalgic. So we just...

GROSZ: You found the right woman, man. That...

LAURISTON: Really did.

BABYLON: She loves you.

JONAS: Yeah (laughter).


SAGAL: I ask this question for everybody I know. You were alone for 77 days. A lot of us have been dealing with solitude. Do you have any tips for, like, how to deal with being alone most of the day?

JONAS: Well, yeah. You definitely - you want to keep busy doing productive things and not sit there and just wallow in your loneliness. You know, not having a lot of skeletons in your closets helps, so you're not sitting there thinking about all the regrets and things you should have done (laughter).

LAURISTON: What a Zen master.


JONAS: Having good relationships so that you know even if you'll be separated for a while, you can come back and pick right back up. There are a few things to work out kind of before you find yourself in a situation where you're alone for a long period of time.

SAGAL: Did you have to, like, figure out a way to entertain yourself in addition to getting - because You can't just get up, work all day, eat, work all day.

JONAS: Yeah, yeah. I made a - aside from just running around with my boat trying to hunt things, which was really fun, I would - I made a - you know, made a deck of cards, played some solitaire.

BABYLON: I thought you were going to say you did, like, episodes of "The Office," and you played every character.


JONAS: I did do a lot of dumb skits. I was really hoping some of them would make it on, and a couple of them did. But the one I was hoping the most would make it was the invasion of Normandy. But that didn't make the cut, so...

SAGAL: So, like, tell me how you reenacted the invasion of Normandy by yourself.

JONAS: Well, I had a (laughter) - I was on a beach, fortunately, so I had the beach (laughter).

SAGAL: Yeah, OK.

JONAS: Then I just was - I could put a hat on if I was a German and take it off if I was the American and do - bounce back and forth between Charlie and Fritz. And we'd fight each other.

LAURISTON: These people are worried about surviving, and Jordan's got a wardrobe...

JONAS: (Laughter).

LAURISTON: ...For his skits.


GROSZ: Yeah, you were thriving.

LAURISTON: Literally thriving.

SAGAL: Well, Jordan Jonas, obviously we could talk to you all day, but we have, in fact, asked you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: You'll Wish You Were Alone.

SAGAL: You spent months alone in the wilderness, as we have discussed, so we thought we'd ask you about an experience that happens with a very large gathering of people in the wilderness, namely, Burning Man. Answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might like on their voicemail. Bill, who is Jordan Jonas playing for?

KURTIS: Heather Walsh of Los Angeles, Calif.

SAGAL: You haven't been to Burning Man. Have you ever burned a man to keep warm?


JONAS: That's a whole different story.

SAGAL: I guess - we won't get into that. All right. First question - Burning Man is this festival, of course, where tens of thousands of people descend on the Nevada desert for a week at the end of the summer. And as you can imagine, sometimes people get hurt. The festival was sued once by a man who injured himself. How?

A, he snorted one whole pound of confectioner's sugar because he was convinced it would eventually turn out to be cocaine; B, he claimed his aura was damaged by an ancient spirit who was annoyed by all the electronica music; or C, he walked right into the Burning Man bonfire while it was burning.

JONAS: Which one's the true answer? I'm going to have to go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B, that he claimed his aura was damaged by an ancient spirit.

JONAS: Sounds about right (laughter).

SAGAL: No, it was actually three. This guy decided the cool thing to do would be to walk into the Burning Man bonfire when they burn the man. And he said that the organizers of Burning Man should have prevented him from walking into the burning man at Burning Man while it was burning.

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Yeah. All right. That's OK. You've still got two chances. Burning Man is, of course, famous for its committed countercultural vibe, leading to which of these people going there to spread their guru-like wisdom to the masses? A, 89-year-old sexpert Dr. Ruth; B, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich; or C, Fozzie Bear, the Muppet.

JONAS: All right (laughter). I'm hoping Dennis Kucinich.

SAGAL: You're right. Dennis Kucinich...


JONAS: All right.


SAGAL: ...Did. He spoke the same year that anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist spoke. Counterculture for the win. All right. This is fabulous.

JONAS: Pressure's on now.

SAGAL: If you get this one right, you win. Despite the anarchic vibe, every day is packed with organized activities at Burning Man. At the last Burning Man they managed to hold in the desert in 2019, you could do which of these? A, Bob Ross and Chill, where you go to watch old episodes of "The Joy Of Painting" while listening to dance beats; B, an event called This is a Room Full of Balloons, which is, in fact, just a room full of balloons; or C, the Insults Booth, which warns it will make you cry like the pathetic human that you are.

JONAS: I'm going to have to go with A.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right.


SAGAL: Of course, all of them...


SAGAL: ...Were actual events that you could have enjoyed...

JONAS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...At 2019 Burning Man. Bill, how did Jordan Jonas do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Two out of 3 - he won our event.

SAGAL: Congratulations. Yay.

KURTIS: Congratulations.

SAGAL: That's two huge wins.

JONAS: (Laughter) Yes, really.

SAGAL: Jordan Jonas is a survival expert and the winner of season six of "Alone." You can find out more at

Jordan Jonas, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME. Congratulations. That was amazing to watch you, man.

JONAS: It's been an honor. Thank you, guys.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing.

BABYLON: Good job, man.

LAURISTON: Bye, Jordan.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

JONAS: Bye, guys.


SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill orders room service from ET. It's the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.