On Monday 7 December, a lucky group of SJR Media Studies and Performing Arts A level students visited the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh for an audience with impressionist and comedian Jon Culshaw.
Jon is a former St John Rigby student and one of the college’s most well known and successful alumni, so it was a real treat for current students to hear him speak about his experiences of breaking into the Media and Entertainment industry.
Jon was extremely interactive with all present and made his way around the audience to answer everybody’s questions. Some couldn’t resist requesting their favourite impressions and he was more than happy to oblige, leaving the whole gallery in stitches as he sent up politicians past and present, fellow comedians including Michael McIntyre, John Bishop and Ricky Gervais as well as sports stars Steven Gerrard, Chris Eubank and Frank Bruno.
The students were particularly interested in his explanation of how some voices come naturally, while others take intense study of YouTube clips to perfect unique mannerisms or exaggerate quirks from a character that may not appear particularly noteworthy at first glance.
Jon also explained how he first discovered his talent for impressions, he would watch visitors to his family home as a child and mimic them to entertain himself. He also found his first audience at St Bede’s high school where he would stand at the front of the class and take on the personas of his teachers before they arrived. He was unfortunately often caught in the act and faced detention for his comedic efforts!
At the end of the session, Jon took photographs with all present and came over to speak to the St John Rigby College group individually. He said, “I have very fond memories of my time at the College and it’s great to meet with such ambitious young people.” Jon went on to uncannily impersonate Media Tutor Simon Anten, before mentioning former St John Rigby College Vice Principal Eric Seal, who had encouraged Jon to pursue his talents when others had dismissed him as a dreamer.
He left the group with some advice that had resonated with him in his youth, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
It’s safe to say that Jon Culshaw has both in abundance, though his message reminded the students of the importance of staying focused on their future goals and not to become complacent.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational day that showed just how far it is possible for our SJR superstars to go.