Eric Slivoskey had successful gigs with his standup comedy act at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, and he and his friend Erik Piisila got great reviews for their joint show in North Dakota in August.
So why not team up again and take their routine back to their roots in Westmoreland County?
“We believe in dreaming big,” Piisila said.
So rather than doing a small show in a small venue, they self-invested to book a show at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. “Plain Fun No. 2 With Eric And Erik” will be staged at 7 p.m. Jan. 4 and they hope that it will be more than entertaining.
“We want it to inspire people to take a chance and get on the stage of their own choosing,” Piisila said. “We don’t want anyone to think that they can’t do it. If we can do it, they can do it.”
Slivoskey lives in Ellendale, North Dakota, and Piisila lives in Tawneytown, Maryland.
They grew up near Mountain View in Unity Township and graduated from Greater Latrobe Senior High School in 1989. They met when they were 13 and shared an interest in watching comedy specials on HBO.
They liked the humor of Eddie Murphy and the late Robin Williams, and comedians who had performed at the Laugh Factory where Slivoskey had his gig.
“Eric called me this year and told me that it was his dream to do standup comedy, and he knew that I was playing music,” Piisila said. “He wanted to know if I wanted to help raise funds for the Ellendale Opera House.”
They put together a show that centered around music, comedy and telling stories about living in North Dakota. Their show at the Palace Theatre will center on growing up in “Yinzer country.”
The two men have kept in touch over the decades even when their lives took them in different directions.
Piisila, a graphic artist, has a degree in visual communications from Towson State College in Towson, Maryland, and is the contemporary music director (and guitarist and lead singer) at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster, Maryland. He has played guitar with secular bands Planetary Zygote and Thread, and toured with Christian bands Prodigal Son and The Jordan Wade Band. He also has a cover band called Three Sheets and The Wind. He and his wife Emily have a son, Makai, 14, who plays bass with the church band and will also be at the Palace Theatre gig.
Slivoskey attended Frostburg State University in western Maryland, and has a master’s degree in physical education from Ball State University in Muncy, Indiana. He teaches and coaches at Trinity College in North Dakota and is a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. He and his wife Estalita, who hails from Liverpool, England, have three children — Kamryn, Kodie and Kaylin.
Combine his love of storytelling with Piisila’s musical talent and they have what Slivoskey calls “a good family show for just a fun night out.”
Slivoskey has traveled to 50 states and 51 countries. He draws some of his humor and stories from those adventures, and he also tells funny tales about growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania.
“I’m compiling stories about the crazy situations that I have gotten myself into and the funny things that have happened to me,” he said. “It’s situational humor. I draw from family dynamics, pop culture, aging — there’s just so much material out there. A lot of things hit a nerve with me in everyday life, so I thought that I could get out there and see if I can turn it into something funny. That’s kind of how it evolved for me.”
Slivoskey will be in Miami, Florida, on Dec. 14 to audition for America’s Got Talent.
Tickets for Plain Fun #2 With Eric And Erik are $23 and $27 at the Palace Theatre Box Office online or by calling 724-836-8000. Visit them on Facebook at PlainFunWithEricAndErik.