In this weekly column, I’ll introduce you to the world of British comedy in the chronology of how I, an American anglophile, discovered it in my life. This week: Jam.
I make my living in comedy, but often I wonder if I should have gone into drama, violent thrillers or snuff-porn. Maybe I’m an irredeemably bent person, but I get a lot of joy out of the perverse, ugly and brutal.
That, my dear friends, is why comedic provocateur extraordinaire Chris Morris’s grim sketch show Jam is one of my favorite programs of all time.
Disturbing. Vulgar. Self Indulgent. Anti-Comedy. Mind-Bending. Hilarious. Brilliant. Hateful. Cutting edge. Jam has been labeled all of these things, and with good reason!
Jam originally began as a BBC radio series called Blue Jam before debuting on BBC-4 TV in March and April of 2000. The series, created, directed and written by Morris, featured some of the most twisted and upsetting sketch comedy ever.
I was introduced to Jam by my good friend Jesse Falcon, who invited me over one night and told me he had to “show me the sickest fucking thing you’ll ever see.” Now, coming from him, a man who had seen every type of degrading porn ever devised and even come up with some himself, that was a bold statement.
Once I got to his house, he gave me a series of knowing nods, and leering looks that seemed to ask, “Are you ready for this, motherfucker?”
Once he finally put it on, I have to admit, I was blown away. It was everything he advertised, sick and wrong, but it was something even more than that. It was funny! Very funny!
Each episode opened with a different, unsettling short, like this one.
One of the more lighthearted sketches from the series:
It became one of those shows that you want to show everyone. I immediately ordered it online, and even hacked my DVD player so it would play region 2 discs. Anyone and everyone who came to my house was at some point subjected to a viewing of Jam. It quickly became apparent to me that it wasn’t for everyone.
Reactions ranged from, “OK, man, I guess I get it” to, “I don’t get this man” to, “this is fucking weird, man.”
One of my top five Jam sketches, The Gush:
Certainly Jam is not for everyone, but in a world filled with sanitized mainstream junk, it provides a perverse relief. And that’s why it goes on my list of must-watch comedy.
Your mileage may vary.
Submitted for your approval, here is episode two of…JAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMM!
Curtis Gwinn is a writer and comedian living in LA. He’s written for The Onion, MTV’s Human Giant, Comedy Central and FOX Searchlight Pictures. He also co-starred in and co-wrote Fat Guy Stuck in Internet on Adult Swim.