I first met Toby Morton earlier this year. But in all honesty, it seems like I’ve known him a very very very very long time. MOSTLY that’s a good thing. From the time we first met, we got along like old friends, and it’s possible I’ve said some things to him that I shouldn’t have, but so far he’s been very forgiving. Maybe he’s my long lost brother, I don’t know, but in any case, he’s a neat-o person and a very funny person.
Toby got his start writing for the ubiquitous Southpark show – and he has literally skyrocketed into the world of comedy writing from there (OK maybe not “skyrocket” but he’s up there). I’m hopeful that someday, he and I will collaborate on something, and IT WILL BE AWESOME. Until then, he was kind enough to take the time to answer 12 questions I had for him – so without any further ado, here’s what he has to say.
1. Tell us about yourself – what would you like us to know about you?
I’m the youngest of 9 children. As a child I always saw myself as more of an entertainer who wanted to be a pop star. Not a rock star, but POP star. Obviously Pop is less about the music and more about entertaining…in my opinion. My writing career began in the fall of 2000 as a Consultant for the television show, South Park. I’ve also written for Madtv where I I not only wrote live sketches, but wrote and produced my weekly animated series, “Weekly Kid’s News with Toby.” From there I wrote for E! Entertainment Television and worked on scripts for Warner Brothers and Disney.
I’m currently living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my wife and our dog. After travelling most of my life and moving from state to state to overseas, I’ve never been happier and more content living here.
2. What is your “work”?
I’m a Writer/Producer. Freelance writing as well as creating projects of my own for features, animated series and live action comedies.
3. Why were you drawn to this field?
A huge part of who I am is always seeing creativity in everything good and bad. I suppose I wasn’t drawn so much as it just became a part of my life at a very young age. Writing and creating has always been a huge part of my life.
4. How do you get ideas for your work projects?
I honestly don’t know where the ideas come from. Unfortunately I can never pin down a time when they come. But I’ve been lucky to have plenty of ideas that have gotten me this far. Depending on the project, I usually watch a film or television show that is in the same realm or genre as the project I’m working on. That usually inspires me.
5. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get started in this business? How about as a hobby?
In 2003 I was a solid 3 years into my professional writing career. It was until this time that I had been writing for other people. And by this I mean, writing what I felt they would like to see. It’s a very common thing to fall into the trap of writing what you feel others will relate to and in the end, it’s not who you are or what you really want to say. When you’re hired for a creative writing job, you’re hired because they want YOUR voice. They want what YOU have to say. Of course you want to collaborate with them and get a sense of what it is they’re looking for. But after that, write for YOU. Write what makes YOU laugh. Write what makes YOU feel. Otherwise, you’re just giving about 47% of what you’re capable of. (As a child, I always loved the number 47…no reason)
6. What kinds of things to you like to do – what are some of your hobbies or interests?
In 2008 during the WGA Writers Strike, I accomplished one of my “bucket list” goals by writing and recording my first and ONLY CD of original songs. I’ve always written lyrics and music since grade school. I taught myself how to play the piano and part of my writing process for projects is being able to step away from it and play music.
7. What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a “creative” person?
The ideas never stop. Most would not see this as a challenge because it’s always good to have ideas. However, once I have an idea, I can’t let go of it until I’ve gotten everything I can out of it. I sometimes spend days on an idea whether it’s good or bad and in the end, it may be something that just plain sucks. I wake up at odd hours of the night with ideas that need to be addressed before I can fall back asleep.
8. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, and do you think this has any bearing on your Work?
As a child I was an extrovert. I wanted to be around all different types of people. Being the youngest of 9 that wasn’t always my decision. There was always someone around. But these days I am most definitely an introvert. That could be from growing up the youngest of 9 and just wanting “me” time. Thinking more about it, I’m actually an even amount of both. This most definitely has bearing on my work. Depending on the project, I allow either Introvert or Extrovert Toby to come to the surface….actually, reading that back makes me realize that I should immediately seek help.
9. Were you creative as a child? Can you give us an example of something you did that stands out in your memory? What were your favorite things to do?
Once again, being the youngest of 9 kids, you had to stand out. You fought for attention. This made me who I am today in that I’m always creating a new environment around me. When I was 5 years old I would rewrite the back of cereal boxes. I always felt bored reading those “about this cereal” type of bits they would place on the back for information. I would give these stories my own “view” and my mom would tape my new and improved stories to the boxes. Also, I had a difficult time playing with others when it came to action figures. I always had a backstory for toys. “What, you want these two to fight?! WHY? Why are they fighting? What started this argument between He-Man and Skeletor?” This would obviously annoy friends my age who simply wanted to just battle.
10. If you had to define your “Personal Brand” in one sentence, what would it be?
Comedy writer and producer for television and film. Sounds basic, but, that pretty much sums it up.
11. Do you like to read? If so, what kinds of things to you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books?
I’ve always been drawn to reading scripts. Television scripts, film, and even commercials. I have rarely been able to sit down and read a whole book because I always get too deep into the visual that I’m playing in my head. Most call this ADD, I call it being too creative? No? Fine, ADD it is :/
If pressed I would say A Clockwork Orange, Anything by Shel Silverstein, and one of my all time favorites, Nick Hornby, who’s books were adapted to great films like About A Boy and High Fidelity. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite screenplays were. I have 4 (again, part of my favorite number 47) By the way, it’s VERY rare that great screenplays were made into equally great films. If you’ve never read screenplays or only a few here and there, I would highly suggest stepping out of your comfort zone and reading one if not all of these 🙂
About a Boy
Back to the Future
12. Where is your favorite place to get coffee? (If not coffee, then tea, or alcohol?)
I don’t have one favorite place. I prefer to bounce around to different coffee shops and bars. I do enjoy The Phoenix because it does have some of the best people watching with a great writing atmosphere. But I do like to mix it up a bit and sit upstairs during the day at McNellies from time to time. I’m never without some sort of writing material.
You can find Toby’s personal website right here. Thanks for sharing, Toby!