"It's all true. It's all real. Nothing here is fake. Nothing you see on this show is fake. It's merely controlled." -- Marlon, The Truman Show
"Who the fuck is Chris Forbes..." -- me to Claire Stanley and Peter Childs on a Twitter Space, after finding out that Duncan Murray is not a real person and is, in fact, played by a comedian named Chris Forbes.
I love the Duncan Murray bit. I’ve quoted the videos to friends, even ones not into tennis. “His mom pretends to hate him!” I said, laughing, not caring that my friends were confused and/or bored. I cracked up when Duncan presented Judy with a shovel for Christmas, with only the tip of the shovel wrapped. I howled when Judy used a Scrabble turn to spell out “tit,” looking pointedly at “Duncan.”
Anyway, during Andy Murray’s match last night with Facundo Bagnis, I was gushing about the Duncan and Judy bit to Claire and Peter. We quoted a couple of the clips and laughed about how great it was, how funny, how inventive.
Then things took a surprising turn.
“Did you know people actually felt bad for Duncan? That his mum was keeping him locked in the basement or something?” Claire asked. I laughed. Judy obviously didn’t really hate her son. Ha, ha, gullible watchers of the Duncan Murray bit. But then, Claire mentioned that Duncan Murray, a man who I saw as a not only real but integral part of human society, was not real.
I don’t remember exactly how she revealed this. Bits of my brain have been wiped clean and chafed raw by pure, unadulterated shock. I think she mentioned how he resembled the Murrays, to which I said something like “wait, he’s not actually related to them?”
At first, Claire and Peter thought I was stringing them along. This is usually one of my favorite jokes — play dumb until people buy into it — but this time, I was being dumb, not playing at it. This was real, realer than my untrimmed facial hair and excessive tennis addiction. A quick Google search revealed that Duncan Murray is played by a dude named Chris Forbes. He’s a comedian, apparently. He also said of those who believe Duncan is real that
"It has been quite odd. A lot of people think Duncan is real. While that is quite concerning, it is also quite sweet."
(Get off your high horse, man. Your act is more convincing than even you know, apparently.)
Claire and Peter found this hilarious, as did innumerable others on Twitter. All was not hopeless, however. James from Tick Tock Tennis shared my utter disbelief that Duncan wasn’t real.
"I...feel like a kid who found out Santa isn't real," he messaged me.
Without further ado, here are some of the best tweets that ensued from my confession that I had thought Duncan Murray was a real person. I was laughed at and laughed with. I was surprised that more people weren’t in the same boat as me. I had trouble forming coherent thoughts, a phenomenon that has continued into this piece. Enjoy.
Finally, the man himself weighed in:
So the mystery continues.