Author Topic: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread  (Read 7251 times)

M-CORP

  • Start a revolution and call it Freddo.
The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« on: March 01, 2020, 08:52:45 PM »
So Monday 23rd March marks 20 years to the day that the first episode of Jam aired on Channel 4 - although fluttering aspect ratios and the odd primitive filter aside, it doesn't look 20.

I first discovered Chris Morris's twisted take on the sketch show last autumn and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I may've become obsessed with it. I just felt something needed to be done to celebrate Jam's 20th birthday, so, some questions for you fellow saddos...

What are your views on Jam two decades on?
Particular memories of its personal impact on you?
Favourite moments/episode?
How will you celebrate the 20th anniversary?
Is the radio equivalent (Blue Jam) really better - or is it not that simple?
Any bits of ephemera related to the show you think are interesting and relevant to this thread (e.g. reviews or interviews, like this one:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/the-distorted-world-of-chris-morris-281039.html)?

OK, so I know they're all pretty predictable questions and I don't have an imagination, but then my mind was clearly fucked by this TV show, wasn't it?
Would be interested to see what you folks think anyhow.

M-CORP

  • Start a revolution and call it Freddo.
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2020, 08:53:43 PM »
Oh, and also, what are your thoughts on the remix, Jaaaaam?

Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2020, 09:58:00 PM »
The radio show (Blue Jam) is better yes.

Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2020, 03:07:49 AM »
Blue Jam and Jam (by extension) were a huge influence on some of my own work, about 10 years after I first discovered it. It wasn't all that long ago that I discovered them, but long ago enough that they were still quite difficult to get a hold of (I guess the DVDs were out of print and the UK has some of the laziest pirates in the world). It'd be an understatement to say it fascinated me; it completely consumed me, and still does to some extent. I think trying to find everything associated with it is how I ended up here, actually.

That all being said, some of it has aged pretty poorly upon more recent revisits; the TV version, especially, is almost unwatchable now, much as I'd like to introduce new people to it. I suppose that's sort of the risk any "experimental" work assumes, especially when it's very clearly "of its time", and it's a time you kind of had to be a part of in order for it to really make sense (I was about 10 when it came out, but I remember enough about Channel 4 in the late 90s/early 00s to understand its place).

Blue Jam holds up far better - there's only so much you can do with audio in the first place, so it feels relatively timeless (even with some of the music choices), and still feels remarkably cohesive and relevant to this day. Getting anyone to listen to hours of audio is a tough sell, so I wear my admiration for it alone for the most part. But I'm still very happy it exists. It had a huge impact on my life, in more ways than I can count.

I'm not about to celebrate the 20th anniversary, mind you. It's always been here.

Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2020, 04:43:51 AM »
I'm naturally drawn to an audio-only format so I'm biased towards Blue Jam, and the full music cues were a key part of its greatness, but that's not a knock on the similarly excellent TV version. I'm curious why you think the TV show is "almost unwatchable," Noodle Lizard. As with anything on TV, one can sort of instantly date it just based on the film stock (or whatever), but setting that side it still feels ahead of its time to me.

Hymenoptera

  • You fill me with inertia.
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2020, 07:18:50 AM »
Echoing others, Blue Jam had the most impact on me and is what I return to most frequently. The monologues especially had a huge impact on my writing when I first heard them, and even though I've developed a lot since, the influence still lingers.

Jam was the way I introduced it to people though, to mixed reactions. I remember sitting in the dingy, slightly smelly kitchen of our student flat with my boyfriend, both hungover and tired, watching the DVD on an old telly in the dark. He really enjoyed it, despite/because of the viewing conditions. Others couldn't get passed the experimental nature of it, and one friend went into it thinking it would be a bit like Big Train based on the cast list, bless her.

Given the type of material they were translating for TV, I think it's brilliantly done in places. The baby-pipes sketch was as sinister on screen as it had been in my head when I heard it, which I was surprised by. All the intros are fantastic as well, I think, especially the further they lean into outright horror.

ToneLa

  • New Jack City
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2020, 10:25:26 AM »
Like a fool, when I watched this the other year, I tried to go to www.jamcredits.com :(

M-CORP

  • Start a revolution and call it Freddo.
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2020, 11:32:06 AM »
Like a fool, when I watched this the other year, I tried to go to www.jamcredits.com :(

You can go on the website via the WayBack Machine...
https://web.archive.org/web/*/www.jamcredits.com

With regards to the whole Jam/Blue Jam debate (to answer my own question), I remember someone saying on another forum that it's a matter of which version you discover first that dictates what you prefer. I saw Jam before I heard Blue Jam, and so I feel more of an affinity towards Jam. To be honest the two sort of balance each other out in my view. Blue Jam probably succeeds more at capturing what the middle of the night feels like and creating its own world and atmosphere, but I'm of the opinion that certain sketches work better on TV.

OK, so 'Unflustered Parents' is funnier with repeat listens in Blue Jam, but there were so many sketches in the radio show that feel all too brief and throwaway, with their potential only being realised when they were fleshed out and taken more seriously by Jam. I'm thinking primarily of 'Doc Knee' and 'Apartment Jumper' from episode 1.

The acting is in some cases better in Jam. 'Plumber Baby', for example - I always loved how Bullmore and Eldon are talking over each other and there's an increase in volume up to the line 'do something for a £1000 an hour!'. We don't get that climatic emphasis on such an important line in the radio show, where it's just there and lacks the same impact.

The sketch that makes me think there's no point debating which version is better is 'Apartment Lady'. In the radio show, we get a much nicer transition as we go from one apartment to another ('moving in is a nightmare, isn't it?), something I miss in Jam. But in Jam, Julia Davis' delivery of the line 'sometimes I just have to f**k someone I've never met before' is much better than the radio show in my view, as is the way the sketch ends; much more impactful in the TV version. But I don't mind either.

Like I said, the two balance each other out...

Claude the Racecar Driving Rockstar Super Sleuth

  • So much better than your daydream heroes
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2020, 01:28:24 PM »
With regards to the whole Jam/Blue Jam debate (to answer my own question), I remember someone saying on another forum that it's a matter of which version you discover first that dictates what you prefer.
I was going to say much the same. I discovered Blue Jam without much in the way of build up - I was randomly listening to Radio 1 and Mary Anne Hobbs mentioned that a new Chris Morris show was on in half an hour. Even having seen him on telly, I was only dimly aware of who Morris was, so it all had a big impact (although I did fall asleep halfway through, as I had school the next day). You might say it was out of the blue.

When Jam came along, complete with previews in the papers and whatnot, it was pretty much just the same thing with pictures.

That said, there are clear differences between them (beyond just the image and songs). I've always preferred the way that Blue Jam plays things relatively straight. Jam tended to overegg the weirdness, which made the whole thing less funny/disturbing to me - this goes double for Jaaaaaam.

thenoise

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Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2020, 12:47:10 PM »
I think 'ambient' just works better on the radio, lying down in the dark, then it does on TV.

Blue Jam is one of the first 'comedies' I remember really enjoying, but not making me laugh at all. This combined with the fairly budding internet comedy discussion forums about made me really start to think about what comedy could/should be if not 'something that makes me laugh'.

Shaky

  • I drink your thread
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2020, 01:11:21 PM »
Jam just doesn't work, for me. The radio version is still fucking hilarious, even with all the lol dark stuff, while the TV show is scarcely good for a chuckle even when it remains watchable.

Nowhere Man

  • Life is just a bowl of life cereal
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2020, 01:48:14 PM »
Style Council was rubbish

M-CORP

  • Start a revolution and call it Freddo.
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2020, 10:02:43 AM »
Today is the day. Feels appropriate to acknowledge the hard work of all these people...

https://web.archive.org/web/20040506150622/http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/J/jam/credits_ns6.html

Other thoughts on Jam? Favourite moments, etc.?

Thomas

  • please describe an encounter with a squirrel
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2020, 11:18:04 AM »
One of the reasons I like Jam is that we get see more of Morris' acting. If we're comparing them, I think Blue Jam is superior - it's one of my favourite shows/things/experiences in all creativity - but I love to see Morris perform onscreen.

The sketch with the man jumping from a first floor window translates very well to TV. So melancholic and distant. Like tuning in to some frazzled channel on hotel freeview at midnight. Similarly, the 'living outside' sketch.

I also think the dreamlike, oppressive visual intros are successful. I think Four Lions is brilliant (I still haven't seen The Day Shall Come), but I'd like to see more of that abstract direction at some point.

Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2020, 11:39:18 AM »
Have loved it and become slightly obsessed with it ever since coming across that striking DVD cover in MusicZone (RIP) many a year ago. Although if pressed, I probably go back to Blue Jam more.

For some reason, my copy would default to subtitles, and skip the intro to episode 1. So for ages, I thought episode 1 just kicked straight in with the "keep away from Ryan" sketch. Probably for the best at the time, as I'd just been in a car crash, and to this day, I still find it slightly triggering, all the wrecked car imagery in Episode 1's intro.

Cuntbeaks

  • Where you fay?
Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2020, 03:38:22 PM »
The night it first aired I was out at an Amon Tobin gig in The Arches, Glasgow. Bad Sex had just been released and the hype was real. Somewhere in my drug addled mind I thought Tobin would play Bad Sex and Morris would appear behind the decks.

Went back home and watched it and was immediately blown away by it, the intro and Doc Knee were partcular highlights. My mate then had to jump in his car at 3am and drive to Nottingham to do a work based presentation at 10am.

BlodwynPig

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Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2020, 04:00:10 PM »
One of the reasons I like Jam is that we get see more of Morris' acting. If we're comparing them, I think Blue Jam is superior - it's one of my favourite shows/things/experiences in all creativity - but I love to see Morris perform onscreen.

The sketch with the man jumping from a first floor window translates very well to TV. So melancholic and distant. Like tuning in to some frazzled channel on hotel freeview at midnight. Similarly, the 'living outside' sketch.

I also think the dreamlike, oppressive visual intros are successful. I think Four Lions is brilliant (I still haven't seen The Day Shall Come), but I'd like to see more of that abstract direction at some point.

Spot on. Living Outside is the greatest sketch of all time, imho. Dripping melancholia from the bleak comedy faucet.

Re: The Jam 20th Anniversary Thread
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2020, 12:30:14 PM »
Jam is good but one of the things I liked about Blue Jam was the tracks between the sketches, which we don't get on the TV version, and it was impeccably sequenced to flow naturally or contrast in some way with the sketches on either side. Introduced me to a lot of fantastic music.

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