Quarantine Creatives: Jamie Oliphant

Jamie Oliphant

Jamie Oliphant joined me from the comfort of his home in South London with a beaming smile and a special guest, Odin. Odin the cat saturated my conversation with Jamie with much entertainment and magnified the wholesome energy that was felt through the screen, in what felt like a chat with an old friend. As Odin sashayed past Jamie’s camera, it was interesting to see this young comedian off stage and in the contentment of his bed surrounded by his well-kept house plants.

Born and raised in West London, Jamie always had a creative flair. From his school productions and acting to his first stand up experience, Jamie always put his creativity at the forefront. Before life as a comedian, Jamie initially went on to pursue his career path in acting. Going on to study drama at the University of Exeter, Jamie excelled during his time there and revealed that a memorable moment was his involvement in the play Trainspotting. “Like 1000 people auditioned for that and I got into that and that was probably the biggest bug for me, the acting bug in moving forwards and feeling like yeah I can do this”.

“I’ve always wanted to do drama”

Having graduated from the university with his drama degree in hand, Jamie went on to work in a bike shop to earn money whilst working in his first paid outdoor theatre project for a show called Child’s Play, at the same time.   This was a learning curve, as he quickly learnt that his input wasn’t as valued here as his work on productions during his time in his Exeter “bubble”. Jamie admitted that after a series of rejections and little input here, from not only himself but his team, he left with a feeling of “what’s the point”. After two or three months of working on Child’s Play, Jamie moved on to his next steps after recognizing that he was “enjoying the bike shop more than the acting”.

After revealing that his initial first step after graduating was sending “about 150 letters to agents in London”, and “hoped for the best. One agent “wrote back to me and said “let’s set up a meeting”. This was great for commercial work for Jamie, but still kept his foot in the door at the bike shop.

With theatre work not fulfilling Jamie in the way he thought it would, he decided to brave an open mic night and try stand up. What began as a dabble, then became addictive for this comedian and got him thinking “how can I get better at this and write better jokes and I was really determined to get better”. Jamie divulged that this was the first time he felt this strongly about something.

Jamie built up a series of comedy shows under his belt, learning to perfect his craft and even went onto win a New Act competition for comedy. He was then “roped into the sales team” for a credit card company. This made his regular input on the comedy scene reduce significantly and he saw that the comedians who he started with “were gigging like machines” and progressing fast whilst Jamie’s stagnation was prominent. Recognising that working in the credit company was stunting his creativity and his ability to get better as a comedian, he left after two years of service.

 “I really enjoyed it, but I definitely knew this isn’t something I wanted to do forever”

Sandwich deliveries is what was next on the cards for Jamie Oliphant, this ensured that his evenings freed up for his pursuit in the comedy world. Of course, financially he took a toll, but this accelerated his skill set and gave him more platforms as a comic.

From doing 5-minute open mic nights and working small stages and audiences, Jamie has now graced Edinburgh Fringe and sold out comedy clubs in London, with his storytelling style. Fuelled by his experiences working in the variety of jobs, including that of a Teaching Assistant. I personally went to see him in Waterloo and loved his animation and almost childlike blanketing of his set and performance.

Being in a creative space doesn’t often pair with the notion and idea of stability and this was something that Jamie had to fight the grain with, especially with his parents. “Edinburgh Fringe was a way to show my progression with this, there was a room full of people who weren’t my friends”. It’s apparent that as a comedian, the harder you work the better you get. Jamie was absolute about putting the time in for anything you love and have a passion for. An inspiration for all creatives.

Interviewing Jamie Oliphant was a pleasure and during this uncertain time, he upheld his optimistic outlook which I have to say left me feeling encouraged myself. Also, the fact he still uses the same headshots from 10 years ago may be proof that laughter really is the best cure for ageing.