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“You learn a lot about yourself very quickly.” | Jamie Oliphant on the schools and silly putty that inspired his show Oliphant in the Room

Tell us about the show you’re bringing to the Vault Festival, Oliphant in the Room.

The show is all about my first 2 years teaching in schools across London; the experiences I’ve had – from breaking up fights in Harrow (trying and failing) to having silly putty thrown at me by a raging 5 year old in Ealing which led to a very tense stand off and had much longer lasting implications than the fight in Harrow did. 

What made you want to write a show about your experiences as a teacher?

Schools are generally quite exciting creative environments. You learn a lot about yourself very quickly. Someone told me that a relationship is where you learn if you like yourself or not because one person is holding a mirror up to your personality and it’s either sink or swim. School is a bit like that, but imagine 20 mirrors pointed at you, if you sink rather than swim then it’s probably getting getting uploaded on to a Youtube channel called ‘ohmydayz3000’. 

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while working with children?

The positivity around mindfulness and neurodiversity. 

Is there anything you wish people understood better about the way the younger generation is educated?

Definitely. General conversations in the media about the state of education and young people are hugely reductive, fuelling the confirmation bias of “why’s it all going wrong for millennial/gen x kids when it was fine back in my day”. There’s always been apocalyptic assessments of youth culture by older generations, it just feels different with social media because there’s never been a bigger platform to have a massive tantrum about “kids these days”. 

What’s the most important things you think adults could learn from their kids?

Steven Universe is a fantastic show and definitely worth watching. Lives up to the hype. 

What do you hope people take away from your show?

Hopefully they agree with my controversial alternate ending for The Jungle Book

Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Vault Festival?

Nick Elleray, Evelyn Mok, Lew Fitz, David Ferguson, Jacob Hawley, Alice-India, Jess Fostekew, Nigel Ng.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into comedy?

I think it’s something you just have to learn by doing. I know there are courses which can be really helpful for starting out just to get you on stage but I think watching pro nights and doing open mics is really the best education you can get. There’s a lot of free pro new material nights to go to and see how someone puts something together for either weekends or touring.


Jamie is performing Oliphant in the Room on 26th February.

Book your ticket here.

Find out more about Vault Festival here.

You can keep up with Jamie’s other work by checking out his website and following him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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