Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

February 03, 2007

The secret pleasure of Just A Minute

I was driving along and was thinking about a bit of JAM from 1975. It's the show where Aimi Macdonald has the subject of "roulette" and starts counting "one, two, three, four..." There's a wrangle over whether saying "fourteen, fifteen" is a repetition of teen and then one about repeating 20 (as in 21, 22...). And Peter Jones says "I think we should move on, I'm very anxious to get into the 30s!"

Now I was just thinking about this, it wasn't even playing on the tape player. And suddenly I'm crying with laughter. And I'm stopped at the traffic lights with the windows down and there's people looking at me funny. I'm alone with no tape playing and laughing fit to die. I must have heard that show about 50 times - it was one of the first I had - and yet here I am laughing hard at just the thought of it.

And the thing is, if I had had to explain to someone, other than another JAM fan, why I was laughing, I'd have a hard time. That's the thing about JAM, it's not as in-jokey as I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - but you do have to understand the personalities involved and the "rules" and format to like it.

There are so many bits of the show that you would only get if you're a fan. Perhaps my favourite one-liner is when Elaine Stritch said of Kenneth "he makes one word into a three-act play". Kenneth's diction is such a feature of his performances and any JAM fan relates immediately.

And someone on the Yahoo group mentioned the "herbaceous border" thing and said, rightly, everyone would know what she meant. That relates to an incident a couple of years ago where Paul and Nicholas debated whether Clement's comment, "we now have herbaceous borders that would outwit", was deviation or not. This is now a classic moment on JAM. Yet it only works because you know how the show works. A non-JAM fan would think you were nuts for even listening to someone debating whether you could be outwitted by a herbaceous border, let alone laughing at it.

Obviously there's a zillion examples - maybe you guys have better ones. If so, put them in the comments.

But hey, who can I share my love of this silly show with, but with you?


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