My name is Toby Morton, and I’m a comedy writer. In the past I’ve written for South Park, MadTV, and during the lowest creative point in my career, E! Entertainment Network.
In November of 2017, I began corresponding with Roger Stone about narrating a short animated piece that covered the history of Hillary Clinton. The animation is part of a series I created called “The Sandbox Weekly”, which consists of topical headlines from a child’s point of view, and is drawn with crayons. I had been avoiding anything political since there seems to be no shortage of political news, but if I wanted to be topical with my series, politics were unavoidable.
I decided to go the Clinton route since every headline read “Trump.” I thought “Who better to narrate this episode than Clinton’s arch nemesis, Roger Stone?” I reached out to his people with a rough idea of the episode, not expecting a response. A week later, he responded. I sent him a basic script in the vein of a bedtime story, as if he were talking to children about everything Clinton.
Roger sent different audio versions of his take on the script. Months passed, and I began to find myself animating visual jabs and jokes at Trump’s expense. I mean, the idea of taking shots at The President while listening to Roger’s “My God clear your throat” voice was exciting and just too good to pass up. I began requesting audio that wasn’t exactly directed at Clinton, but more about how politicians are generally inclined to lies and corruption. Throughout all of this one quote stuck out over others, “If you’re not controversial, you’ll never break through the din of all the commentary” – Roger Stone. It then became much more. I was commenting on the current political climate via the voice of corruption himself. All of this accompanied by joyful piano music, colorful crayons, and the beauty of a child’s wonderment!
This episode features not only the Statue of Liberty shooting up a school, but an erotic dream sequence of Trump seducing the American Flag. Why? Because to me, shock is crucial. The surprise. The unexpected. The sharper the turn, the bigger the impact. An attempt to shock however, is not an attempt to offend.
To say ‘That offended me’ is not the same thing as saying ‘That’s offensive’. The first is subjective, and I can’t argue with your personal feelings. The second is objective which, well, we could go on for hours. As a comedy writer I like to make people think, stir it up a bit, bring up important issues or even to enrage. But most of all, I want to make people laugh. Unfortunately, once I’ve said something, it’s out there and there’s no telling how people will take it. But I’m willing to take that risk and “offend” someone.
Other art forms are praised when they tackle the most difficult of topics. No one argues when a writer of drama commits a sin just by addressing something serious. Why should comedy be any different? It’s just as valid an art form as drama, and can be just as powerful when done well. My comedy is a way of exploring the world I find myself in, and there’s no reason it should have different standards than any other genre.
Roger and I are artists. As a matter of fact, Roger himself said, “Politics with me isn’t theater; It’s performance art. Sometimes, for its own sake.” We both have to look for every opportunity to display our “Art.” Every artist is expected to use all tools at their disposal to be the best artist they can be. For instance, one of Roger’s many tools was his twitter account which included gems like, “Who is this stupid negro Roland Martin? Buffoon or token buffoon?” And my favorite, “Megan Kelly = Nice set of cans”
If you had told me over a year ago that the poor man’s version of Heaven’s Gate leader Marshall Applewhite would be narrating my animated project, I would be offended. And if you followed that up with the fact that I would then use his voice as an opening for my own frustration with the state of our country, well, that’s just offensive.
Check out the trailer in the "media" section of this site.