By Michelle Lampariello
A sold-out crowd greeted “Drake and Josh” star Josh Peck, as students wondered which of his iconic catchphrases the child actor-turned movie and YouTube star would drop, from “Hug me brotha!” to “The cooliest!”
But when Peck walked on stage to greet the audience, he led with one more tailored to students at the College.
“Allow me to start by saying ‘Fuck Rider,’ am I right?” Peck said as he took the stage.
Before Peck could be met with deafening cheers as he began his lecture, a line of shivering students stretched from the main entrance of Kendall Hall to the library on Saturday, Sept. 30.
While about 830 students were granted the chance to see Peck, several hundred were turned away due to the unexpected demand of College Union Board’s annual Fall Lecture.
“I got on line at 6:50 (p.m.) and waited online until 7:50 (p.m.) before they turned us away, so I waited an hour for nothing,” said Melissa Weiss, a sophomore elementary education and mathematics double major. “I probably should’ve shown up earlier if I wanted to get in, so it’s definitely on me for missing the show, but I was still disappointed.”
For students who were fortunate enough to get a seat in the theater, Peck provided a night of laughter and nostalgia, accompanied by moderator Max Falvey, a junior communication studies major and CUB live event coordinator.
Before Falvey could begin to interview him, Peck noticed a peculiar figure in the audience: a large Oprah cutout poster.
Crafted by sophomore civil engineering major Jacob Hardin, the Oprah poster is comprised of a laminated image of talk show host Oprah Winfrey attached to a piece of posterboard Hardin found in trash from Eickhoff Hall. Hardin hoped to catch Peck’s attention with the cutout by referencing Peck’s “Drake and Josh” character Josh Nichols’ love for Oprah.
“I went online to find a life-size cutout, but it was like $70 and too expensive for a college student,” Hardin explained to The Signal. “So I started a GoFundMe, and my friend gave me five bucks to make this.”
Peck, amused by Hardin’s creation, signed the cutout and even invited Hardin on stage so that they could simultaneously kiss the cutout on the cheek.
During the lecture, Peck balanced discussion of his current YouTube vlog work and recent marriage to cinematographer Paige O’Brien with sharing memories of “Drake and Josh” and other childhood favorites of the audience.
Over the summer, Peck began producing weekly vlogs on YouTube as a way to reach fans in a different setting opposed to television and movies.
“I think the best part is that you don’t have to ask for permission,” Peck said in an interview with The Signal. “You can go straight to your audience, and you can create and curate exactly what you want to deliver to them.”
While Peck appreciates being able to reach his audience without any barriers, he acknowledged that the process has led to him developing a thicker skin.
“Being able to go straight to your audience is something that I’ve grown to love, and it’s awesome as long as I don’t read the comments,” he said with a laugh.
Peck joked about the popularity his wife has gained with his viewers on YouTube.
“She’s just the best, and I’m super lucky,” Peck shared with The Signal. “I appreciate that she’s in my vlogs because people love her. People are like ‘have her do the vlogs, you suck!’”
Peck shared the story of how he met his wife with the audience.
“We met at a Halloween party, it was six years ago,” he said. “We were really super vain and we both weren’t wearing costumes. We kept making eye contact from across the room, but I didn’t have the guts to go up and talk to her.”
During his lecture, Peck gave a piece of relationship advice to the audience: “You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.”
Peck and O’Brien, with help from a mutual friend, eventually ended up having a conversation that night. After six years together, the couple got married in June 2017.
“I’m super stoked that she agreed to marry me, and that it seems like it’s going well. I don’t think she wants to divorce me quite yet. We’re going strong,” Peck told The Signal.
Discussion of Peck’s wedding prompted a “hard-hitting” question from an audience member: why was Peck’s “Drake and Josh” co-star Drake Bell not invited to the wedding?
“We’re just brothers, and we fight like brothers, and that’s the best I can describe it,” Peck said. “It’s all good, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s always just been love between us, and it’s love now.”
Peck shared his favorite “Drake and Josh” memories with the audience. When asked for his favorite moment on set, he exclaimed “Are you callin’ me a liar? I ain’t callin’ you a truther!”
As the audience cheered for his rendition of the iconic “Drake and Josh” line, Peck saw an opportunity to discuss the show’s timelessness.
“We made this show many years ago, and it’s completely stood the test of time. When we were making it, we just had an incredible time in every moment, and that was so special,” he said.
Throughout the lecture, Peck made several efforts to bond with Falvey. The pair even knelt on stage together as Peck gave Falvey a pep talk, encouraging him to continue doing a good job as moderator.
“You’re gorgeous, you little ginger snap,” Peck said to Falvey as the audience laughed and applauded.
Peck discussed his mother’s role in the success of his career. He explained during his lecture that as a single mother, she did everything in her power to ensure her son’s well-being and happiness.
“My mom always says when people say ‘you know, you moved out to California to help Josh with his career, did you know that he would have success with “Drake and Josh” and what not?’ And she was like, I just supported my kid in something that he loved and gave him confidence. I didn’t know that it would turn into a career, but I knew that he got so much self-esteem from it,’” Peck explained to The Signal.
Despite the light-hearted nature of Peck’s interaction with the audience, he offered the crowd valuable advice for achieving success in acting and comedy.
“If you wake up and all you want to do is this, then you have to go full speed ahead,” Peck said. “Everyone has a different trajectory, so how long can you stay at it and stay sharp and be ready for when that opportunity results itself, when it’s your time?”