Series / Jam

"When dancing, lost in techno trance, arms flailing, gawky Bez, then find you snagged on frowns, and slowly dawns, you're jazzing to the beep tone of a life support machine, that marks the steady fading, of your day old baby daughter. And when midnight sirens, lead to blue flash road smash, stretchers covered heads, and slippy red macadam, and find you creeping 'neath the blankets, to snuggle close a mangled bird, hoping soon you too will be freezer drawered... Then welcome, blue chemotherapy wig, welcome in Jaaaaaaaam."

From Chris Morris, the creator of Brass Eye and The Day Today came Jam, a Sketch Comedy show with a difference. The show was a televised adaptation of the late-night Radio 1 series Blue Jam (also by Morris), and employed a unique combination of filming techniques and ambient music to create the sensation of the viewer being on drugs. Usually very, very bad drugs. At least one memorable piece per episode was 'filmed' via security cameras and a double to blur the line between 'reality' and 'sketch' even further. There were no ad breaks, no canned laughter and no closing credits, all of which, it was felt, would ruin the mood of the show. It just faded in for a few seconds.

Notable for its heavy use of Black Comedy; we're talking seriously deranged stuff here. Nothing was taboo, not even the literal dead baby.

Best remembered for:

  • The said Dead Baby sketch, where a deranged mother hires a plumber to "repair" her deceased offspring to working order.
  • A man calls out a hired 'cleaner'/killer who turns out to be a six-year-old girl.
  • A very lonely woman goes to extreme lengths to make friends. She even dresses as a police officer, pretends that a man has died, then invites his grieving mother to the theatre that evening.
  • Several sketches about a highly eccentric doctor.
  • Mr Ventham: A man who visits what seems to be an expensive therapist, only to ask really obvious advice: "I can't find my wallet?" ... "It's probably on one of the surfaces."
  • The suicidal man who jumps off of a one-story drop forty times, in case he changes his mind.

If you were looking for the post-apocalyptic novel of the same name by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, then you can find it here.

Jam provides examples of the following. Help yourself to a shoe wire if you'd like, sir:

  • Absurdity Ascendant
  • Abusive Parents: The couple convinced their daughter is a 40-year-old man in a little girl's body, so they've fitted her with a penis and testicles themselves.
  • Adult Fear: The show relies heavily on this. The "Plumber Baby" sketch is possibly the best-known example, with other sketches focusing on paedophilia, child murder, sexual assault, Out with a Bang ("Gush") and more.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: The sketch where a middle-aged man decides to be buried alive rather than die in his old age, and sits up in the coffin to enjoy his own funeral before the burial service takes place.
  • Black Comedy: Very much so. Very, very much so. The sketch about the dead baby mentioned above is actually one of the show's lighter moments in comparison with some sketches.
  • Black Comedy Rape: A woman thinks her partner's cheating on her, but he states he was "just" raping the woman he had been seen with. So it's okay.
    • In the sketch where the couple are discussing their fantasies, one of which involves her having sex with her husband after he pretends to have been gang-raped.
  • Boys Love: Subverted with the men kissing in the pub. When they tell their wives they've found something out about each other, the women brush it off.
  • British Brevity
  • Deadly Doctor: The one who identified the condition of symptomless coma. Sufferers appear to be just like anybody else, walking and talking, but are actually in deep, untreatable comas. Expect euthanasia.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Not sure whether it's been played straight or subverted in the sketch where a woman beguiles a man into groping her, culminating in him being arrested for sexual assault... with mutual consent.
  • Dr. Jerk: David Cann's recurring doctor character is portrayed as being extremely unhelpful and eccentric, and has once prescribed mother's younger daughter a pound of heroin.
  • DVD Bonus Content - mercilessly mocked with the DVD release. The "extras" include a "play all at once" feature (which yields stills from all six episodes, the Thames Television fanfare and the word "WHY?"... as well as a bona fide, if rather odd, bonus scene), an option for "Undeleted Scenes" which merely tells you to go down to the shop you got the DVD from and complain loudly and profanely about the DVD not having any undeleted scenes, and a version of each episode that has been digitally altered in such a way as to make it entirely unwatchable (for example, shrunk down to a tiny size and bouncing around the screen.)
  • Loners Are Freaks - one sketch features a woman who deliberately causes accidents and does other upsetting things so she can spend time with the people she's hurt/upset, with the implication that nobody else will do so.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context
  • Mind Screw - Look at the examples above and tell me I'm wrong.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed - Averted, as is Morris' style. A fake Kilroy is shown to have gone insane and is running around naked in a shopping centre, urinating on a window containing a television displaying his face. Fake Richard Madeley is shown beating up an innocent cleaner and having sex with a coffee machine.
    Narration: Today...we saw Richard Madeleyyy...beating up a cleaneeerrr...and later being apprehended...for fucking a coffee machiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii­iiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeee­eee...
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat - "Mr. Lizard", who installs a television in a couples' home which inexplicably begins spewing lizards, then denies all responsibility - suggesting that the cable company are sending the lizards down the wire while repeating "it's nothing to do with me" and taunting the pair.
  • Overly Long Gag - a couple.
  • Parental Incest - Played for Laughs with the mother of a child who apparently has a gay friend. Whilst the father has sex with the friend to keep him away from their son, she has sex with her son (in disguise as a "younger lady", who he thinks is a prostitute) "to keep him interested in ladies."
  • Parental Neglect: Played for Laughs with a couple who realise one evening that their kid hasn't come home from school. They wonder what to do about it, make a phone call and find out that he got into someone's car, but nobody's sure whose. They decide he was "probably" going to a friend's house, and go back to reading the paper. In a couple of follow-on sketches they become vaguely aware that nobody's seen their kid for days, and eventually they get a phone call from the police, who've discovered their son's body. They thank the police for sorting the whole thing out, and go back to reading the paper. The only time they show a hint of emotion is when they become mildly annoyed that they are expected to bury him themselves.
  • Production Posse: Mark Heap, Kevin Eldon, Amelia Bullmore, Julia Davis and David Cann, who have all worked on several of Morris' other projects.
  • Professional Killer - subverted with the six-year-old "cleaner"
  • Serial Escalation- "Shit your leg off! Make it green!"
  • Sensory Abuse - While some sketches were quietly dull, a few were full of it. The 'Robert Kilroy Silk' sketch featured a lookalike of Kilroy experiencing a nervous breakdown in a supermarket, accompanied by dramatic, tribal music, while an alarm repeatedly beeps in the background. It ends with a looped clip of the real Kilroy calmly saying 'Take care of each other', which gradually turns into atonal droning.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation - Many sketches were directly taken from Morris's radio show Blue Jam. Some of them clearly used the original recording with the actors miming to the lines, giving an even more unsettling feel to the scene.
  • Stupid Crooks: This sketch features a man holding up a convenience store in order to buy a pack of cigarettes. Apparently, the gun he points at the store clerk was to make sure that he got back change. The clerk tells the man with the gun that he doesn't need to pay for the cigarettes, and the man thinks of this as some sort of unexpected thrill.
    • Not to mention this guy who tries to hold up an off license with a gun hidden in his stomach which he fires... out through his own spine, killing himself and the woman behind him in the queue.
    • Or this bungled convenience store hold up where the would-be antagonist forgets to bring the axe he was meant to be threatening people with (which he had brought with him on previous trips to said store).
  • Surreal Theme Tune - No real theme tune, but every episode would begin with Chris Morris delivering a rambling monologue that had seemingly little to do with the show, and ending with "Then welcome... in Jaaaammmm"; see page quote.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour - Maria, the six-year-old assassin
  • Your Cheating Heart - The sketch where a midwife seduces a patient's husband and has sex with him in another room while the woman is giving birth

Lovely shoe wire, sir.