Outside The Piglet, the conversations overheard in the queue suggested that Sunshine Coast comedian, Ben Knight, was going to be playing to a very particular crowd as he presented his show, The Parent Teacher Interview, to Adelaide audiences for the first time.
The animated chat around me ranged across topics like the creation of ‘independent learning plans’, recent professional development opportunities and some specific dissection of staffroom politics. It appeared that the assembled throng consisted entirely of teachers, who, in true self-flagellating fashion, after having finished their workday at the chalkface, had dutifully set out for an evening dealing, once more, with parents and their problem progeny.
Knight quickly ascertained the professional mix ratio in the capacity crowd and then, reassured that he was on safe ground, presented a fast-paced, meticulously structured show, where the situations presented were intimately familiar to most. Underpinning much of the humour here, was the room’s mutual experience and understanding of the classroom conflicts, the frustratingly contradictory policy edicts, and the bewildering ‘jargonese’ that plagues the world of the modern educator.
Using a blend of clever, stylistically consistent, audio-visual material, song and occasional audience interaction, Knight nailed the teacher parent dynamic with insightful precision. His classification of the various parental sub-groups was acerbically accurate, as were his translations of ‘teacher speak’, and throughout the stories of his professional frustrations and misunderstandings, a sincere affection for the school environment shines brightly.
Never mean-spirited, Knight’s schtick is built around a deep respect for teachers, students and for those who qualify as ‘normal’ parents – albeit they seem to be a minority in the schools he was worked within.
The best received material drew on the audience’s instant recognition of his depicted situations. In fact, some of the funniest moments came from his invitation to audience members to offer up their own experiences, to compliment his own, which drew out responses that proved the adage ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ and had Knight responding with incredulity and delight.
Whilst anyone who has ever attempted to be in control of a classroom will love this show, there was enough material with general appeal to also please those who have no direct connection with the business of educating our youth. Knight’s confident and amiable approach is totally engaging, which also makes it easy to forgive him for those occasional gags that teetered precariously on the edge of political incorrectness.
As the end of this year’s first school term approaches for many local educational institutions which means the new parent-teacher interview season is about to get into full swing, teachers and parents alike should attend this educational and informative show – Ben Knight will certainly make you laugh, but he will also offer you a lot of common sense insight into how the education experience should be approached by all of its major stakeholders.
Rating: 5 stars!
The Parent Teacher Interview runs from 15 to 18 March at The Piglet, Gluttony.
Tickets available here: The Parent Teacher Interview