Laughing Pizza: Love makes a family in Columbus!

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

It's a rock show for the whole family! Once again, Laughing Pizza brings their hip, musical family flavor to Columbus for a much-anticipated performance brimming with exactly the kind of togetherness and energy that this family encourages.

Their music videos are seen daily on Columbus' WOSU and several other PBS stations across the country. Mom and Dad, Lisa Michaelis and Billy Schlosser, are award-winning, chart-topping songwriters and classically-trained musicians, as well as former teachers.

Collectively, with their 13-year-old "rock girl" daughter, Emily, they create fun, inspiring music for all families. "We enjoy portraying positive family values without being too preachy," said Schlosser. Partnering with local dancers to share their love of performing, Laughing Pizza has invited the Pinnell Dance Centre to join them onstage. Michaelis, a dancer since childhood, beams at the opportunity. "Being a family that spends almost all of our time together; writing, rehearsing and playing, we love making similar connections with the community we're working in ... there is always this immediate bond with the other families."

The members of Laughing Pizza have a long history in the music business. Billy and Lisa met on the original TV show Star Search and performed around the country in various bands. They worked with members of Steely Dan, LaToya Jackson, The Village People, Smokey Robinson, Rick Derringer, Toto and many others. They released an album on MCA records called Wake up the Neighbors, had a #1 dance hit, and spent four years signed to Warner/Chappell music publishing as song-writing partners.

Lisa said, "Phase one of our lives together was full of the grown-up music business. We had a #1 hit and a publishing deal, but it didn't stay as exciting as it first was. Once we had Emily, and a reawakening due to her long stay in the hospital as a preemie, we decided to get out of New York and try something completely different. That's when we moved to Atlanta."

Billy had worked at an interactive agency in New York, so when they moved, he got an executive corporate job at the height of the Internet boom. "Phase two for us was a steady, calm, suburban life with a job and security. We actually had health insurance! Our only issue was that I spent a great deal of time traveling around the world working on client projects with companies like Nokia and Morgan Stanley," added Schlosser.

Once 9/11 happened, Billy and Lisa, like many others, found that their priorities changed and they began to focus more on family. "Billy was on a plane that Tuesday, landing in Boston." Lisa continues, "... it was scary; he was trapped there for a week and had to rent a car to drive home. When he got home, we decided to go back to working together." This was about the same time Billy and Lisa were trying to find music for Emily that they liked to listen to as well. "She was over the preschool stuff, and was attracted to the more MTV radio-type of music, which just wasn't appropriate for a 5-year-old! We thought about it and realized that there must be millions of other parents facing exactly the same type of situation, and that's when Laughing Pizza was born," said Michaelis.

Over the last few years, Lisa and Billy have gone from writing songs for Emily to writing songs with her. Billy emphasized that "parents say again and again: 'Thank you for giving our kids a role model that's not Hannah Montana and for showing that a family CAN work together and still have fun!' It's amazingly fulfilling to get that kind of response."

Laughing Pizza will bring their original pop music and interactive family spirit to COSI on Saturday, August 8 from 2 4 p.m. Admission to the show is $5 for COSI members, $10 for non-members, or $5 if purchased with COSI admission. Tickets are on sale now at (614) 228-2674. For more information about Laughing Pizza, go to