T. Murph's friend was whispering on the phone.
"Did anybody call you yet?" his friend said excitedly. "You have to act like you don't know. But you got it."
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T. Murph's 5 favorite comics1. Dave Chappelle ("Hands down, No. 1")
2. Richard Pryor ("I have to. People will attack me if I don't.")
3. Jay Leno ("Even after the show, he's still touring the country, doing standup.")
4. Ellen DeGeneres ("She's so original. She's one of the best of all time.")
5. Lil Rel ("He's from Chicago. I have watched him time and time again. He's one of my mentors. He's one of the funniest people I've ever seen in my life.")
"It," was a spot on BET network's "Comic View," a renowned, stand-up comedy show that T. Murph has watched since he was a kid growing up in Kankakee.
"I literally broke down crying, I was so excited," said T. Murph, who now lives in Downers Grove. "It's pretty surreal."
The 29-year-old, whose real name is Guerterrius Jackson, was chosen from a pool of hundreds of comics nationwide, including 57 in Chicago alone, for the stand-up segment on "Comic View," which airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.
He doesn't yet know which Tuesday night his act will air, but he's already being featured on the show's trailers and "Still to come" teasers, as well as its website.
Even though he hasn't appeared yet, "Comic View" has already given momentum to T. Murph's comedy, voice-over and acting career.
"I think I've accepted 200 Facebook friend requests in the last two days, and I have all of these new Twitter followers now. Aye, I'm lovin' it. I'm just sitting back, being humble, and waiting my turn," he said.
T. Murph -- who likes to dance up to the microphone and tell funny stories about his life rather than jokes -- has appeared on TBS and Comedy Central comedy specials. He also tours the country doing standup, opening for top comics like Hannibal Burress and Key & Peele. He's particularly popular on the college campus circuit.
"The difference between a college and a comedy club is, in a club, they want to see your material. When you go to a college, they want you to have fun with them. So we have fun," he said.
The college shows can have as few as 30 or as many as 1,200 people, but that doesn't matter to T. Murph.
"As long as you're funny, when you're doing the shows, or looking for Twitter followers, these are the people who are going to keep you relevant."
T. Murph didn't plan on becoming a comic. He started out acting and modeling as a kid, but he also memorized the "Snaps" books, which were filled with "yo momma" jokes. He told them all the time, making him the class clown at Kankakee and Momence high schools (he attended both). Being only 5 foot, 4 inches, he always had snappy comebacks if someone dissed his height.
"Even if you were the sexiest man alive, I could get you," he said. "We'd sit there and crack jokes at each other, but no one could ever beat me. Ever. EV-ER."
After school, T. Murph worked as a barber for seven years. He always made people laugh when he cut and styled their hair, so in 2000, at an open mic night at Station 13 in Carbondale, Illinois, where he was living at the time, he decided to give stand-up comedy a try.
"People laughed," he said. "From there on out, it was history."
T. Murph's name has evolved over the years. His first name, Guerterrius, is pronounced "gi-terry-us," so people started calling him "Tay-Tay." He hated that.
"I said, 'I'm not a girl. You can't call me Tay-Tay!'" he said.
So they called him Terry Jackson. Then Terry Murphy, because people thought he looked and acted like comedian Eddie Murphy. Terry Murphy morphed into T. Murphy, now shortened to T. Murph.
He heard about the "Comic View" audition from a stranger on Twitter who retweeted a link about it. He pounced on the opportunity, immediately putting a package together and sending it to BET's producers twice.
Today, for extra cash, T. Murph works as an online admissions counselor for a for-profit university, which he declined to name. His stand-up skills make him good at breaking the ice with students and persuading them to enroll. But it's likely he won't be doing the job much longer.
T. Murph's been added to the lineup at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal this summer and is working toward getting his own 30-minute special on Comedy Central. He's also seeing a growing demand for his voice-over work.
"I'm definitely going out to Los Angeles for pilot season (auditions)," he said, "but right now, it's stand up, stand up, stand up, and building that presence."
-- Jamie Sotonoff
Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make an interesting column feature, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com