On Saturday, January 25, I had the opportunity to attend UC San Diego’s Triton Fest “Under the Influencer” event. One thing I can assure you I did not leave this awesome night with, was a “HEADACHE!!” The line started from the top of Price Center (PC) and wrapped all the way around the bookstore, continuing down to Center Hall. The excitement began to build as students eagerly awaited to be presented with the night’s guest, who was none other than the one-and-only Josh Peck. Once the doors to the PC Ballroom opened, students quickly swarmed the room and before you knew it, it had reached capacity with around 800 students. Cheers and waves quickly became apparent as Peck’s wife, Paige O’Brien Peck arrived and sat in the front row with a few of their other friends and family members. Everyone excitedly squirmed around in their seats and chatted amongst themselves as they anxiously awaited for Peck to walk out on the stage.
The host and moderator for the night, Ace Antonio, was the first to come out to give us a brief introduction about the event and how the rest of the night would carry on. Shortly after, the room burst into screams, cheers, and claps as the man, the myth, the legend himself, Josh Peck walked out. “Hey guys, what’s up, how’s everyone?!” he excitedly and kindly asked the crowd of fans and students that had eagerly awaited his arrival. The night continued on with a casual and fun Q&A between Peck and Antonio. Peck originally rose to stardom from his hit show on Nickelodeon, Drake and Josh, that aired from 2004 to 2007. The show’s premise was based around two teen step brothers learning to adapt and grow with each other and a new family through strenuous challenges, comical fights, and unpredictable adventures. When asked how his journey began he started off with a humorous statement: “Well, I was a large boy … thicker than most,” and the room erupted in laughter.
Peck continued to explain his rise to fame by telling us about how it started with musical theater when he was younger and that his dream was to always be on the Nickelodeon show, All That, which was popular in the early ‘90s to early ‘00s. He was sadly denied that role but later got flown out to be on another successful show from Nickelodeon, The Amanda Show, co-starring with Amanda Bynes. One of Peck’s most memorable skits from that show, in which he fights over shrimp with his co-star Drake Bell, is what miraculously landed him and Bell their very own outstanding TV show for 3 years and 56 hilarious and incredible episodes. Later Bell and Peck even got their own feature film, Really Big Shrimp, in 2007. Peck then continued to describe how he earned roles in films such as The Wackness and Red Dawn, and co-starred with John Stamos in Grandfathered for one season. He then discussed how grateful he was to Vine for allowing him to build his social media presence and earn him an instant and powerful connection with new and old fans. This soon led into the boom of his newfound Youtube career with his “Epic Wings Mukbang” video, alongside fellow Youtuber Trisha Paytas, taking off and launching him to make several videos after that with good friends and fellow Youtubers of “Vlog Squad,” David Dobrik, Zane & Heath, and Jason Nash.
When asked by Antonio if he would ever stop making and releasing content or if he’s sometimes too tired of it, Peck hilariously responded with, “I mean, my baby gotta eat.” Peck is now happily married with a one-year-old son and discussed how grateful he is for the opportunities that were given to him, and how thankful he is that he gets to wake up everyday and do what he loves. At one point, Ace brought up how Peck has been described as the most “unHollywood Hollywood” star there is and that could not reign any truer. Peck spent the majority of the event cracking jokes and telling us stories as well as offering us valuable and concrete advice. He told us that we should never stop chasing our dreams, how important it is to be “honest and vulnerable with yourself,” and how “being yourself and being confident in yourself is key in overcoming adversity.”
The night ended with Peck answering fan questions and shouting them out in the crowd, with one lucky student even receiving a hug and fist bump from Peck. One student asked Peck, “If you could be any animal what would you be?” He replied with, “I’d be the raccoons at Sixth,” and we all exploded with laughter. Peck left the stage offering the best piece of advice that growing, apprehensive, and curious college kids could hear, and that was to “fall in love with the journey and not the result.” Triton Fest’s “Under the Influencer” event was a massive success and Josh Peck could not have been a better guest. I think everyone’s childhood dreams came true that night.
Ivana Cuk is the Assistant Editor for the Arts and Culture section.