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Series / Jam

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"When dancing, lost in techno trance, arms flailing, gawky Bez, then find you snagged on frowns, and slowly dawns: you're jazzing to the bleep 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 mash, stretchers, covered heads, and slippy red macadam, and find you creeping 'neath the blankets, to snuggle close a mangled bird, hoping soon you too be freezer drawered... Then welcome, mmm, ooh, chemotherapy wig, welcome in Jaaaaaaaam."

Jam was a very dark Sketch Comedy show created by Chris Morris of The Day Today and Brass Eye. The show employed a unique combination of filming techniques and electronic/ambient music to convey a disturbing, acid trip-like feel — and a complete disregard for taboo topics, including literal dead babies.

The show was a televised adaptation of Morris' BBC Radio 1 series Blue Jam. There were no ad breaks, no laugh tracks, and not even any opening or closing credits. At least one memorable piece per episode was "filmed" with security cameras.

Notable sketches include:

  • A deranged mother hires a plumber to repair her dead baby son to working order.
  • A man calls out a Professional Killer who turns out to be a six-year-old girl.
  • A woman gets so desperate to make friends that she dresses as a police officer, lies to a mother that her son has died, and invites her to the theatre that same evening while she's still grieving.
  • A doctor treats his patients in ridiculous ways.
  • Mr. Ventham visits his expensive therapist Mr. Reilly only to get obvious advice.
  • A suicidal man jumps off a one-story drop forty times, just 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.
  • 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: Consists of one series of just six episodes.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: The security guard whose stutter prevents him from warning others about the broken elevator, causing many people to fall down the empty shaft and die.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover for the show pictures an unconscious man in a tracksuit outfit lying on the ground while a distressed woman (presumably the man's wife) is pleading to two ambulance workers, one male and one female, who both look apathetic while smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, to save the man's life, while a police man is seen in the background laughing at what is happening. Unfortunately, this never once occurs in the show. It does give a good idea of the often twisted nature that is the show’s sense of humor though.
  • Crapsack World: The Britain portrayed in the show seems to be a place of relentless misery, mental illness, surreal insanity and death. Almost every character we meet is deranged and even banal aspects of life are either sinister or inexplicably weird.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Instead of closing credits, every episode ended with a title card simply reading The site was accordingly updated in 2003 to include credits for the DVD release.
  • Crocodile Tears: Used in one sketch where a man reprimands his maid for using a tiny vacuum cleaner (which looks more like it belongs in a doll house) - resulting in her taking two full days to vacuum the whole house. When he tries to ask her not to use it, she bursts into floods of tears, manipulating him into letting her use the vacuum cleaner and a duster the size of a postage stamp.
  • 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A guy eating in a restaurant with a friend violently beats his companion to death for having the nerve to ... break the poppadoms so they'd be easier to eat.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: The suicidal man who decides to jump a one-foot drop 40 times (rather than a 40-foot drop once) in case he changes his mind. One of the opening sequences shows a man who attempts suicide in a car park only for his plans to be ruined by another car unexpectedly crashing into his.
  • 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.)
  • Gaslighting: The mechanics in the "Shrunken Car" sketch, who insist that they haven't done anything to their client's car - despite the fact it's only 4 feet long and 2'6" tall. The client is quite incensed by this.
  • Helicopter Parents:
    • One sketch was based around a couple talking about how they got their daughter into a competitive school by handing out booze, drugs and pornography to the other children applying.
    • Another involved CCTV footage of a children's party where a mother snaps and violently attacks the kids (and their parents) after her child loses a game of musical chairs.
  • Homage: the "casual parents" sketch is a homage to a Victoria Wood sketch where the parents of a teenage professional swimmer are totally unconcerned after she doesn't return from an attempt to swim the English Channel.
  • In Love with Love: parodied in a sketch about a middle-aged man who, having never achieved his goal of finding someone to marry, decides to marry himself. He reveals at the end that he's since dated several women he would have liked to marry, but it's a bit too late for that now ...
  • 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.
    • Several sketches about Mr. Ventham, a socially awkward man who visits an expensive therapist for advice on trivial everyday problems (such as losing his wallet or not knowing what to do on Saturday night) because he is so isolated he has no idea what to do about them on his own.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context
  • Mind Screw: Look at the examples above and tell me I'm wrong.
  • Miss Conception: The obviously heavily pregnant woman who visits a doctor asking for acne cream, because she thinks her swollen stomach is just a pimple. She and her husband refuse to believe she's pregnant, and laugh at the idea in the face of all evidence; the doctor gets tired of them, agrees with them that it's just a pimple after all and prescribes them something that either does nothing or just flat out causes her to miscarry, having decided that they'd be horrible parents anyway.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • With Friends Like These...: The parents oblivious to their son's disappearance are eventually told that his body was found, and one of their friends has confessed to the murder. They shrug it off and resolve to just "have a word" with their friend the next time they see him.
  • World Gone Mad: The entire universe the show is set in seems to be filled to the brim with deranged weirdos and people with severe mental illnesses.
  • World of Jerkass: Just about every character in Jam is anything but the kind of person you'd ever want to come across in real life.

Lovely shoe wire, sir.


Video Example(s):


Twunted by a Honda

A man attempts to kill himself by tying a noose to a moving car, but is thwarted when another car causes it to divert.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BungledSuicide

Media sources: