Another Mr. Lizard: The Miracle of “Jam”

Two acquired tastes: British comedy, and the type of laughs that come within milliseconds of uttering the phrase “what did I just witness? That was so wrong.” If you’re allergic to either brand of humor, particularly the latter, stay back. Click away, because these clips will take you to a dark, dark place. To the rest of you assholes who think that dead babies are funny: welcome to the world of Jam, the most twisted sketch comedy series ever produced.

Jam is one of those great shows that’s been reduced to YouTube tatters due to music licensing issues. The episodes are interlaced with dreamy, ambient sounds by the likes of Low, Beta Band, Aphex Twin and Brian Eno. If you’ve never seen the show, let us begin at the beginning. Below is Episode 1, Part 1. It begins with “an invocation of sorts” (there was one of these at the beginning of every episode; here’s another opener), and leads right into “It’s About Ryan,” a sketch about two concerned parents asking their child’s godfather to gain the affections of a local pervert in order to keep him away from their boy (UPDATE: that video was removed by YouTube, so I’ve replaced it with a clip of “It’s About Ryan,” without the intro):

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 will be freezer drawered. Then welcome… blue chemotherapy wig, welcome. In Jam. Jaaam. Jaaaaaaam…

The show, written by Chris Morris (with occasional help from the cast) is a successor to Blue Jam, which ran on BBC Radio 1, and was described by the Beeb as “the funniest nightmare you never had.” In some ways, the radio show (which you can listen to here) went even further than the televised version. But since I love the look of the actors (particularly the crazy gleam in Mark Heap’s eye!), the TV version has always been my favorite.

Many of my most beloved Jam clips are now impossible to find online. They disappear, audio tracks get erased by YouTube. So watch these while you can! Type “Chris Morris Jam” into YouTube and enter a world stranger than you ever imagined. Below are some highlights:

I’ve included these videos (and some other gems) after the jump. Enjoy! [Many thanks to my friend Mildred for introducing me to this show]

12 Responses to “Another Mr. Lizard: The Miracle of “Jam””

  1. Andriy Says:

    I haven’t watched Jam in years; I’m going to remedy that later. The sketch with the chap jumping from a first floor 20 times I seem to remember liking.

  2. Tanya Says:

    “Thick People” is brill. I love “Sex for Houses.” But there is something so simply AMAZING about “Cleaner”

  3. Nadya Says:

    Andriy, the sketch you’re remembering is called “Suicide with an Escape Clause.” Here it is:

    Tanya, Cleaner was great! There was another Jam sketch with a little girl who served as “The Cleaner” – the type who gets rid of a body after a crime. That was one of my favorites ever. Completely gone from the web now. According to some sources, it starred Chris Morris’ daughter, but that’s been disputed.

    Chris Morris is now working on a movie about suicide bombers and terrorists. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.

  4. Rick Says:

    I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard as I did at Mr. Lizard in months.

    Great finds!

  5. Tequila Says:

    Definitely something I can see myself enjoying in the late night and early hours of the day. Has a great tone and feel that’s hard to pin down in terms of shows you’d see in the U.S.

    The closest it reminds me of are short lived experimental shows you’d see from HBO and the like.

    It’s a shame the music licensing can’t get sorted out. It’s so important to some shows and they can be ruined without it (like with WKRP in Cincinnati) so fingers crossed it gets resolved.

  6. Infamous Amos Says:

    And this is why I read Coilhouse. Never seen this before, and now I am addicted. Thanks a lot, jerks.

    Reminds me a lot of some of the more surreal Kids in The Hall sketches. Almost anyone can pull off funny, but pulling off creepy funny is a king-hell-bastard of a feat. This is brilliantly twisted.

  7. Andy Says:

    I’ll second that… It’s been ages since I’ve just stared at the screen unable to look away:) Kinda thankfull now that I’m only half british, I’m warped enough as it is^^

  8. Skerror Says:

    He’s making a movie about terrorism!? That has potential to offend more people than Paedogeddon!

    Just about everything Chris Morris touches turns gold.

  9. Heather Says:

    I remember watching the entire Jam DVD a number of years ago in one sitting, and feeling like I’d just done something I shouldn’t have…So good, but so so wrong! “The Gush” is one of the funniest (and wrongest) sketches from the show.

  10. Shay Says:

    My lordy lord, I’d never even heard of this!! It is so wrong, so GLORIOUSLY wrong!! I love it. Thank yoouuuu!

    I’m … “acquiring” it from Evil Internet Places as we speak.

  11. ghostboy Says:

    i had never seen/heard of these before, and i must say you’ve opened my eyes to a world of awesome that sheer tip-tapping of a keyboard couldn’t even begin to describe. I particularly loved the slow-motion Doc Knee sketch, as my dumb friends and discovered one day that slow-motion makes for hilariously surreal fun. i highly suggest utilizing your local neighbourhood DVD player’s slow-mo function to make everything much much weirder (read: better).

  12. Beth Says:

    YES! It is so refreshing to see this translates internationally – or at least to other freaky twisted perverts like me!

    I can remember seeing it when I was young and half thinking that I’d dreamt it up. I’ve been addicted ever since. However, I had to steer clear for a while at one point – after watching the DVD three times in a row. I started to react to the world in a completely different, dark, post-productioned way. Dangerous!

    Does anyone enjoy Charlie Brooker stuff? He’s worked with Chris Morris on Nathan Barley, but he also did this: