The Bolton-born comic gave a masterclass to an audience of students and staff at the University’s Adelphi Studio, the old stomping ground where he completed a Media and Performance course in the late 1990s.
During the lively question and answer session Peter talked about his experiences in the comedy business from the early days until today as one of the UK’s most popular and prolific stand-up comedians. Along the way he created and starred in TV series including Phoenix Nights, Max & Paddy’s Road to Nowhere and That Peter Kay Thing.
Performance students, including several from the University’s new Comedy Practices BA degree, quizzed the multi-award winning funny man for two hours. He talked about the experience of developing his career soon after leaving Salford, including the techniques he uses in a wide range of comedy disciplines such as creating a stand-up routine, TV scriptwriting and character development.
He offered students some tips on how to get on in the comedy industry, emphasising perseverance, hard work and the need to get over rejection. He also discussed the advantages he found of using stand-up as a stepping stone, while he was always looking towards ultimately becoming a comedy actor and writer.
And Peter admitted that he would love to be starting out at the University of Salford today, with the huge benefits of the internet and technology which weren’t available to him 15 years ago, and in particular the massive opportunity for students studying at the University’s MediaCityUK campus.
“Salford students are really sitting on a goldmine at MediaCityUK,” he said. “It’s a massive gift for them – they just need to get in there and get on. Nowadays, with HD recording on your iPhone and YouTube as a platform, there’s no excuse not to get your material out there. It’s really bridged the gap between aspiring performers and the TV industry.
He continued: “I would really have enjoyed doing the new Comedy Practices course at Salford if it was around in my day. I always preferred the practical work to theory during my course and I understand there’s a lot of practical skills teaching in the degree, which is great.”
Year 2 Comedy Writing and Performance student Allyn Thomas, who attended the masterclass, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity and a privilege to have Peter Kay talk to us. He’s one of my comedy heroes.”
The University’s Comedy Practices programme leader, Lisa Moore, commented: “It's fantastic that Peter has spared the time to give our students the chance to talk to him and to learn so much from his masterclass. Peter is not just the very best in stand-up – he's also a genius comedy writer and actor, and he started here at Salford.”
Lecturers are hoping that the comedy masterclass becomes a regular feature of performance courses at the University, with plans to invite other famous local comedy performers and writers to give talks in 2013.