Some IUP students were surprised Sunday
evening when they thought they saw someone familiar on their TV.
“I was watching the Super Bowl when suddenly I saw Dr.
Lauber in a UPMC commercial,” said Kathleen Mest, an IUP Journalism and Public
Relations Department student. “It completely threw
me off because I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was him, but it looked just like
him. It was a fascinating topic of conversation the next day.”
Monday, Journalism and Public Relations Department professor Erick
Lauber confirmed he had appeared as a construction worker in a regional ad
titled “Mind the Gap” that UPMC aired during the Super Bowl.
Several years ago, he explained, he had signed on with the
Docherty Talent Agency in Pittsburgh and had appeared in many commercials over
the years, though rarely in the Pittsburgh market.
“Occasionally a friend will call or email and say they saw
me in something, but I’ve never actually seen myself on TV,” Lauber said. “So,
to see myself for the first time in a Super Bowl ad was just hilarious. And to
have it be as a construction worker when everyone around town knows me as a
professor, makes it even funnier.”
Lauber’s acting career dates back to high school theater and
productions in college such as the Waa-Mu show at Northwestern University.
“That was quite an honor,” he said. “I’ve been told it is
the most expensive all original college production in the country. Students
write all of the numbers, and I almost got a song in the show one year. I might
still be the only physics major who was in the show at NU. But really, doing
theater and later doing TV was just a lot of fun. I’m really glad I can
continue to do something in acting or singing after all these years.”
Recently, Lauber has won several awards in video
production and even acting, including a Telly Award for acting, and a Broadcast
Educators Award for his role as a live actor in a children’s animated movie.
Though he hasn’t sung recently, Lauber also did a rock band in college and
later a gospel quartet in his 30’s.
“For a while, in the Communications Media Department, I was helping
students with their on-air talents,” said Lauber. “I still do teach the
‘Presentations’ course in Journalism/PR, so it’s relevant to my work as a
faculty member. And I give many presentations myself every year. Ultimately, I think
it’s just great to be able to surprise my students now and then with something
they didn’t know about me.”
Lauber says he doesn’t know when he’ll see himself on TV
again, so his 30 seconds of fame might be over. But the reactions he’s been
getting all over town from his friends have been “priceless.”