Former Nickelodeon star Josh Peck brought students back to their childhood television days at Lisner Auditorium Thursday night.
The 33-year-old actor, best known for his role as Josh in the Nickelodeon show “Drake and Josh,” discussed his young start in Hollywood and current career on YouTube, adding in bits of stand-up comedy throughout the evening. The event was moderated by YouTuber and sophomore Rumi Robinson and co-hosted by Program Board and Class Council.
“Can you imagine George Washington if he was still alive? Like ‘Who the fuck did you bring? From Drake and Josh?’” Peck said to kick off the night.
Peck, who is now a YouTuber alongside his friends David Dobrik and Shane Dawson, said he wanted to get his foot in the entertainment industry early in his childhood. He said he performed stand-up comedy around New York City at 10 years old, and event organizers often snuck him through back doors to duck a liquor license suspension.
“I would just own that shit like, ‘What’s up with the fourth grade?’” he said.
Peck said it took countless Nickelodeon auditions to land any role on the channel. His first role was in a 2000 movie “Snow Day,” which helped land him a spot on the “Amanda Show.” He met his “Drake and Josh” co-star Drake Bell on that show, and producers thought the duo would make a good comedy tag team.
“You see those idiots? That’s your next show,” Peck said.
After “Drake and Josh” wrapped up in 2007, Peck said he had trouble escaping the “funny fat guy” role in films. He transformed his body and career over the next several years, and the audience cheered when Peck said he had lost more than 100 pounds.
“My cardiologist had the same reaction,” he said.
After his weight loss, Peck said he was still drawn to the entertainment industry and wanted to shift from film to social media.
He moved his career onto social media on Vine and eventually launched his own YouTube channel. His first hit video was a chicken wing mukbang – an eating show – with YouTuber Trisha Paytas that racked up more than 3.7 million views. These mukbang videos, which often feature his YouTube famous friends, are some of his most popular videos, but he also includes several comedy and vlog style videos.
“It was empowering to finally be in charge and go straight to my audience,” he said.
Today, Peck is married with a one-year-old kid and lives in Los Angeles as a social media content creator and actor on the side. He added that while he has moved on to different careers, “Drake and Josh” has had a lasting impact on his life.
“We stopped making that show more than a couple years ago, and it’s incredible to see the lasting effect it has had,” he said. “There’s been so many moments when it has blown my mind how the show has resonated.”