When I was little, my dad would often tell me I repeated things so many times I was “beating a dead horse.” Well, now, thanks to pillow-lipped Julia Fox’s inexplicably addictive “UNCUHJAHHHHMS” ridiculousness, Mr. Ed is on the way to the glue factory.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Ms. Fox is a demi-celeb actress slash influencer who recently burst into the spotlight as Kanye West’s arm candy. Post-breakup, she kept that 15-minutes ticking by inadvertently becoming a viral TikTok.
In a podcast, she pretentiously called herself “Josh Safdie’s muse when he wrote Uncut Gems,” with a cringe-inducing pronunciation of “UNCUHJAHHHHMS” that launched endless memes, including a reworked version of the film’s movie poster (reading “Uncut Jams”) in which Adam Sandler brandishes a jar of Smucker’s. There was also a Wikipedia edit of her page with the new spelling, countless comedian imitators, and the nightmare-inducing Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty’s montage of signage with the insane phonics.
I walk around the house blurting it out uncontrollably, yelling “Uncuhjahhms!” instead of “Good morning,” “Fuck you,” or even as an exclamation of glee. It’s become a vessel I can fill with any meaning I want.
My husband, Harry, like millions of others, thought it was “funny the first time.” But a small army of people are keeping the torch aflame, in text group chats, in Instagram reposts, and in person, discussing why we think it’s still funny and hasn’t jumped the shark.
Eric Leiderman, producer of Late Night with Seth Meyers, says he first heard of the whole phenom when a friend sent him style influencer Joey Zauzig’s post, milking the vocal fry. “My lizard brain laughed without any prodding, and that was it: pure Internet earworm simplicity,” says Leiderman.
Comedy writer Marshall Heyman also remarked that in the shitstorm we’re wading through these days, any cheap cackle is a respite. “The world is just totally stressful and uncomfortable at the moment,” he says. “We’re literally looking for anything for a quick laugh or an escape. Anything.” And when it hits, it replicates exponentially. “Once something is in the meme-o-sphere, it’s just endlessly re-purposed.”
My interpretation of this is that her ridiculous way of saying “uncuhjahhhhms” is easy to mock, comedic fish in a barrel, which we are all weaponizing to attack on the surface when, actually, what truly irks us is the fact that she called herself a muse for these successful, creative men. When I was in middle school, I remember that a common girl-on-girl insult was simply “She thinks she’s so great.” I’m not proud to pile on with this sentiment, but, like … who calls themselves a muse?
My favorite sketch of all time is Amy Schumer’s “Compliments.” (YouTube it immediately.) It shows a group of women admiring each other and each one rejecting the kind observations with extreme self-deprecation. (“I’m like a size 100 now.” “I look like a whore locked out of her apartment.” “I tried to look like Kate Hudson but ended up looking like a golden retriever’s dingleberry.”)
One may say I’m a Gen Xer societally inculcated to believe women should not brim with that kind of self-assurance, but actually I’m a very confident person. I just would never, to cite another dad expression, “toot my own horn.” I will, however, take some small amount of credit for the fact that Julia Fox is still hanging around in Internet infamy.