CARBONDALE — It’s been a banner year for a Chicago-based comedian who began his stand-up career as a Southern Illinois University Carbondale student.
Guerterrius “T. Murph” Jackson, originally from Kankakee, was a fixture in Carbondale’s comedy scene several years ago. During his time in Southern Illinois, he worked at multiple barbershops in Carbondale, including Arnette’s.
“That was my claim to fame in Carbondale for a while — I was the funny barber,” Jackson said.
Jackson was selected last month as one of nine finalists for the 14th Annual StandUp NBC competition, a national talent pipeline program that helps the network find new voices in the world of comedy.
NBC flew him out to Los Angeles for the competition, hosted Nov. 29 at the Hollywood Improv. Although Cleveland, Ohio’s Kiry Shabazz was ultimately named the winner, Jackson said making it to the semi-finals and then the finals was a dream come true.
“I got great meetings, great connections — I met with Comedy Central, and after that I met with a few production companies. I also got to meet with different executives from NBC, including a few people that book late-night — ‘Jimmy Fallon’ and things of that sort. It was a great experience and it just opened a lot of doors, already,” Jackson said.
2017 marked Jackson’s first year as a full-time comic. He performed at roughly 50 colleges throughout the year and met with several networks to pitch new content.
On Dec. 2, he recorded a 30-minute set in Chicago’s Hyde Park to submit to Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents, which features up-and-coming comedians.
If his set gets chosen for the program, it’ll give people a chance to see Carbondale, Chicago and Kankakee in a different light, he said.
“I cut hair on the (northeast) side of Carbondale. I live now on the southeast side of Chicago. I grew up on the south side of Kankakee. A lot of times people think about those areas in a negative light, but that’s not the way it always is, and I feel like my standup is a way to let people know and draw a picture and allow them to see what they may not already have seen,” Jackson said.
During his time in Carbondale, Jackson hosted a comedy open mic and started his own monthly comedy show. He said producing one’s own show, even in a place with a small standup scene, is a great way to get practice and recognition.
“That’s one thing I would tell comics — it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but you reap the benefits … it’ll help you get better and get polished as a comic,” he said.
Jackson said he hopes to bring his regular comedy show, FADED by T. Murph, to Carbondale sometime in the spring.