The Mighty Boosh, a British Comedy television series, aired from May 2004 to December 2007 for a total of 3 series (seasons) and twenty episodes. This episode, "Electro," was the penultimate episode of series one, and first aired on June 29, 2004. The Mighty Boosh surrounds the lives of Howard Moon and Vince Noir (played by Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, respectively), two zany zookeepers. In “Electro” it is revealed that Howard wanted to become a famous jazz musician. We learn through a flashback that earlier in his life a spirit named "The Spirit of Jazz" presented himself to Howard and offered to turn him into a great jazz musician. Like the old Robert Johnson story, Howard signs his soul away in order to become a famous musician. Howard soon becomes disgusted with The Spirit of Jazz and decides to refuse to play music ever again, thereby preventing The Spirit of Jazz from ever bothering Howard. After the flashback ends, we learn that Howard decides to play again in order to help Vince’s new band pull-off an important performance.
Numerous jazz stereotypes are presented in this episode. In the opening scene presented here, Vince paints Howard as a do-nothing who just listens to jazz rather than working. Additionally, Howard makes bizarre and humorous facial expressions and arm gestures while listening to jazz, clearly fully absorbed in the music – but looking like a goofball while doing so. Next, Howard claims that Vince is afraid of jazz because he cannot comprehend abstract melodies. In the next scene, the flashback mentioned above, we see Howard, sitting in an empty jazz club donning a black turtleneck, bowl cut, and dark-rimmed glasses, expressing his desire to be a jazz musician to the bartender who is cleaning up for the night. Suddenly, after the bar tender leaves, “The Spirit of Jazz (TSJ)” appears and we see a tall man in blackface, long dreadlocks, dressed in a nice white suit and top hat with a flame rising from the top. At one point Howard says that he “wants to be the most famous musician in all of Yorkshire.” TSJ asks what Yorshire is and Howard replies that “Yorkshire is a place, Yorkshire is a state of mind.” This line is reminiscent of a ubiquitous Cannonball Adderley quote: “Hipness isn’t a state of mind, it’s a fact of life.” TSJ eventually replies “Yorkshire, New Orleans, it’s all the same to me baby. TSJ later points to a picture on the wall of the jazz club of Thelonious Monk and states “Want to be like Wee-Wee Jefferson?” The final scene shows TSJ entering into Howard while he is performing with an electronica group which causes him to rip off all of his clothes while making his way to the front of the stage playing bebop-esque lines.
Below is a transcript of the relevant dialogue:
Howard Moon (HM): I’m going to get around to my work, aren’t I? This is my early morning procedure. Listen to my jazz, get myself juiced up, then go about my business
Vince Noir (VN): No you don’t. You put your jazz on, go into a trance, ten past 6:00pm and go to the pub. That’s your day… later
HM: That is just making me feel physically sick. What is that gloomy racket?
VN: That’s the Human League!HM: That is electro nonsense
VN: They’re electro pioneers; they invented music
HM: Invented music?! What happened before them then?
VN: It was just tuning up before then
HM: Are you area of the music known as jazz? Are you aware of jazz music, the movement known as jazz?
VN: Why do you keep going on about jazz?
HM: Because it’s the most important art form of the in the century.
VN: No one listens to jazz. Science teachers and the mentally ill, that’s all jazz is for
HM: You better take that back, you electro punts
VN: I hate jazz
HM: You hate jazz? You fear jazz.
VN: Shut your mouth.
HM: Aw yeah, Yeah you fear jazz don’t you?
VN: You fear the lack of rules, the lack of boundaries. Oooh! It’s a fence! No, it’s soft! Ahh, what’s happening? The shapes! The chaos! Has to be simple little nursery rhymes for you, huh? Simple little “dee dee dee de dee-dee.” Soon as the melody gets abstract you mess your trousers and run to your mommy.