Fifteen years ago, Mark DiPiazza, owner of Italian restaurant and live music venue DiPiazza’s, was approached by a guy named Peter Shukoff. At the time, Shukoff was a small-time musician and comedian who was struggling to get by, couch surfing at a friend’s house and working at an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles.
“He said, ‘Hey can I come in and play my guitar for a small pepperoni pizza?'” DiPiazza said.
Never one to turn down a fledgling musician, he agreed. So, that following Wednesday evening, DiPiazza and his wife Maralyn sat down for an unforgettable show that had them “crying laughing.”
Using just a loop pedal and his guitar, Shukoff performed a comedy set that was so entertaining, so hilarious, they invited him back to perform every two weeks afterwards. Those performances marked the early stages of Shukoff’s career, where soon after the young comedian would become “a millionaire overnight.”
“He kept telling me that he had this idea about starting things with his buddy on YouTube,” DiPiazza recalls. “Doing rap battle wars like Mr. T against Mr. Rogers.”
The “rap battles” to which DiPiazza refers to are none other than the viral YouTube series, “Epic Rap Battles of History,” created by Shukoff and his friend Lloyd Ahlquist (EpicLLOYD) in 2006. For those of you who haven’t come across the wildly popular video series (and in that case, do you even use the internet?), the show features historical and popular figures and fictional characters flinging witty boasts and absurd insults at each other via rap verse. Just watch.
To this day, the Epic Rap Battles of History YouTube boats 14.7 million subscribers, with over three billion collective views. Shukoff’s personal YouTube account, known as “Nice Peter” features many of the epic rap battles, as well as vlogs, skits and other music-related content. His YouTube account currently claims 2.64 million subscribers.
As part of a series of farewell shows to send off Mark and Maralyn DiPiazza as they enter retirement, Shukoff is driving in from Los Angeles to perform a free, secret show tomorrow (Feb. 6) alongside Dreams of Vertigo, an Orange County-based rock band and Long Beach’s own Mr. Good Day, a funk and alternative rock outfit, with just their lead singer and bassist Elic Evans and drummer Ryan Link.
As for what Shukoff has in store for the performance remains a mystery, not even DiPiazza knows, but what’s clear is that Shukoff wants to send the couple off with a dent in their beer supply. “He asked, ‘Can I buy about 12 or 15 pitchers of beer to give away?'” DiPiazza said.
Nice Peter, Mr.Good Day and Dreams of Vertigo perform at DiPiazza’s (5205 Pacific Coast Highway) Thursday Feb. 6 from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
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