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Fans gather for some warmth, wisdom from Josh Peck

By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]

East Tennessee State University hosted a special visitor March 27 as actor, comedian and author Josh Peck made a stop in Johnson City on his book tour.

The title of Peck’s newly released memoir, “Happy People are Annoying,” touches on the highlights and behind the scene reels of his life and career.

“I’ve had this unique sort of experience and I realize I love a good memoir or self-help book, but even in college, life is throwing a lot at you all the time,” he said. “It used to be you compared yourself to your neighbor or someone at work or school. But now we are comparing ourselves against people like Kylee Jenner and people on Instagram and it seems impossible.”

Peck said he wanted to write the inspirational book, not because he is special or great, but because he has had an interesting life.

“Here I am at 35 and I want to share with you my life. And when I tell these stories in the book, people can be like ‘Wait, he was 21 and feeling that?’ There are many moments in my life that you grew up watching,” he explained. “People could point to them and say, ‘Here I was watching Josh on TV, wishing I could be there, and he was going through his own challenges.’ So, it seemed like a unique opportunity.”

Moderator and Housing Assignment Coordinator Bethanie Dye said that was one thing they enjoyed about Josh’s book was that it was real.

“It made it very relatable when you’re going through some of the trials you went through, and the feelings that you had, I felt like you were very honest in the book,” Dye told Peck. “I was like, I’ve felt those ways too. I’ve felt like that in my off days, in my sad days. And even as happy people, we have days like that.”

The title for the book came from those people that don’t obsessively scroll Instagram or call you back when they say they are or even have the right number of groceries in the 10 items or less line at the grocery store, Peck said.

“I used to think that I was born without a manual and it seemed like everyone else just had this manual on how to not think too much and not be insecure and go through all these different challenges that I went through,” he said. “I think that’s what I thought happy people were, and that annoyed me that some people were just born into perfect behavior.

“But throughout my life and going through these challenges, I’ve found some of that happy that I was seeking. So now I’m one of those annoying people and I can’t believe it.”

The “Path to Invention” is another topic Peck hits on in his memoir and Interim Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center, Jay Guillory asked what Peck did to help his mental health when everything seemed to be going wrong?

“I started off as a chubby boy; I was slightly thicker than others. There’s a saying that says funny people are usually funny for very unfunny reasons and for me, grow- ing up chubby, I didn’t want to be the sad chubby kid,” he said. “I wanted to tell jokes, I wanted to make people laugh before they could make fun of me. I wanted to control the energy of the room. It was like a defensive mechanism and it turned into this beautiful thing because all of a sud- den, I started doing comedy in New York City when I was 10 years old.”

Dye said that there was one person in particular who wanted to ask Peck some- thing very personal about an issue he could relate to.

“Going back to when you were younger and dealing with your weight issues, did you have any concern losing weight and fearing people wouldn’t find you funny?’ Dye said. “They say they have been overweight all their life and always felt like being the funny one, but they felt they couldn’t be that anymore now that they lost weight.”

Peck said he understood and even had some words of advice for them.

“I like this phrase, ‘Maybe you don’t like the new me cause you’re still the old you.’ Whenever I am truly following what my heart was saying was best for me, the result is always the right thing,” he explained. “That voice is always there; it’s just got a different sort of volume. And when I’m really worried about what people think and I’m really worrying about money or prestige, that voice gets really low.

“But when I take the ego away and the worry away, what’s that inner voice? For me that voice is always there. It’s about pulling things away. I always thought you had to add on. I had to be a bigger and better person, but it’s about stripping things away to find the real me. That’s where you find the happiness.”

Peck’s book “Happy People are Annoying,” is available now on various retail platforms.