On the morning my grandmother died, the first thing I did was send emails to cancel all my obligations for the next week, including a bunch of shows in Denver and an audition that morning at 9am. I wound up driving to the audition anyway, although I do not remember doing this because everything inside of me was broken. I should not have been driving and I have no memory of what I did or said in that room. A few days later in Kansas, while driving home from the funeral, I got a call that Guitar Center was asking me to be their new spokesman. It is a surreal experience to have everyone close to you transition instantly from carrying so much pain to suddenly jumping up and down while high-fiving. It was exactly what my family needed in that moment, and it lightened the mood so that we could spend the rest of the day celebrating my grandmother’s life, rather than drowning in our misery.
I came back to LA and immediately got started working with a great team of people. In the last month I’ve played a concert on Sunset Blvd, detonated explosives, turned carrots into carrot juice, and wrecked a car. More importantly, I’ve been able to make a lot of things with my sense of humor and written in my voice. It has been a dream come true.
A few minutes ago, I saw myself on TV for the first time, being me in something I made. Since I was a little kid, I wondered what that would feel like. Mostly it makes me think of that moment, right after a funeral, where my entire family was together for the first time in years, and suddenly happy when they least expected it.
Also, it makes me think my dead grandmother is a pretty great agent, and I’m happy to forward your headshots her way.
Then I was on the cover of my hometown newspaper with this article.
Brock Wilbur was at his grandmother’s funeral in Salina when he received a life-changing call.
Shortly after the service, his commercial agent in Los Angeles called to say that Wilbur had been picked as the spokesman for Guitar Center in a series of national commercials to begin airing just before the Thanksgiving weekend.
“It was a sudden shift in the day,” said Wilbur, 29, a 2003 graduate of Salina South High School.
Wilbur, the son of Salinans Tom and Marlis Wilbur, had been living in Los Angeles for several years, working as a screenwriter, stand-up comic, musician, filmmaker, blogger and film reviewer. In 2012, he published a book of online film reviews, “Filmpocalypse! 52 Cinematic Visions of the End,” and in October he released a stand-up comedy album, “Crime Travel.” Both are available online on Amazon and on iTunes.
Now he can add television personality to his resume.
After returning to L.A., Wilbur filmed “six or seven” commercials for Guitar Center, a musical instrument and equipment company that sells everything from guitars and amplifiers to stage lighting equipment and recording software. The store has two locations in Kansas, in Wichita and Overland Park.
Television commercials started airing nationwide the day before Thanksgiving and will continue through the holidays, Wilbur said, along with several radio spots.
“Then plans are to do more commercials beginning in January,” he said.
More than an audition
Wilbur said that after auditioning several other shaggy-haired, hyperactive musician-types in their mid to late 20s with crack comic timing, the powers that be at Guitar Center still hadn’t found what they were looking for. Then someone from the company saw Wilbur’s stand-up comedy routine on YouTube, and he was called in to audition.
“The morning I got the call to audition, I got a call that my grandmother had passed away,” he said.
When Wilbur returned to L.A. after the funeral, he was given a rare opportunity for a commercial actor. Instead of just reciting lines from a script, he was able to contribute to the development of his spokesman character, to be named “Steve.”
“I got to work with the marketing company, coming up with ideas,” he said. “Steve is a rock ‘n’ roll fan, but it’s really just me. There’s a very thin line between Brock and Steve.”
U2 at Arrowhead
Dad Tom Wilbur said his son is a lifetime music lover who formed about 10 different bands between middle school and high school.
“He didn’t really have that intense love of music until sixth grade, when I took him to see U2 at Arrowhead (Stadium),” Tom said. “I got him a guitar for his next birthday, and that was that.”
It didn’t hurt that Tom, president and chief executive officer at Bank VI in Salina, was a musician himself, having played guitar for more than 30 years with the popular local classic rock band The Last National Band.
He’s the music expert
“But Brock’s the real music expert,” Tom said. “It’s who he is. He’s completely engrossed in music. He has a band in California that plays one-hit wonders from the 1960s to the 1990s.”
Brock said he didn’t grasp the effect of doing a national commercial until one aired during a University of Kansas basketball game last weekend.
“I got 300 text messages in under an hour, some from people I hadn’t seen since high school,” he said.
By far the best part about being a Guitar Center national spokesman, however, is being able to film in stores after hours and “hanging out with all these guitars,” he said.
“It’s a middle-school dream come true,” he said.