Recently fans submitted some questions to Torry Martin, creator of the character of Wooton Bassett. Here are Torry's answers.
Back to Jaw About Odyssey
How did you get started writing?
My mother thought I had a tendency to talk too much when I was a kid and as a solution she suggested that I write my thoughts down and give her ears a break. Actually I've been very fortunate by being surrounded with people like my parents, my Pastor, and my friends who have all encouraged me to write. It was when I was living in a remote cabin in Alaska that I started writing Christian comedy sketches. That cabin was where I wrote my first Odyssey episode called "BTV-Forgiveness" and it's also where I wrote my first book called "Under the Circumstances." My dear friend Martha Bolton has been a tremendous influence in my writing as well. To be honest though I still have a difficult time thinking of myself as a writer. I keep thinking that I'm fooling people and that one day it will be revealed that I'm really just a hippie with a keyboard. Marshal Younger, Paul McCusker and Martha Bolton are people who I think of as being true writers and they are all three largely responsible for any minor literary successes that I've had.
What's the best thing about writing for Odyssey?
Getting paid for it. (I'm kidding.) The best thing about writing for Odyssey for me is having the opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing from some of the best writers I know. Marshal Younger and Paul McCusker have both been a wonderful source of encouragement and of terrific help to me and I aspire to someday write at their level. One of the things that most surprised me was finding out what a collaborative effort the scripts actually are. Everyone offers their input at a read through of the first draft and there are so many great ideas being bounced around that for me it can be a little overwhelming because I want to incorporate them all. By the way, Marshal has been especially kind and extremely patient with me which has made the entire creative and writing process much more fun. That guy has a knack for making a good script so much better than it was. He's fixed several trouble spots and added some absolutely great stuff to my scripts with his brilliant mind and on top of all of that the dude can crack me up.
What characteristics do you share with Wooton?
We're both extremely attractive for one but I guess that's more about appearances than characteristics so it doesn't really count. Let me see though hmm we both collect toys and comic books, we're both a little naïve and gullible and we both march to the beat of a different piccolo. (I was going to say "drum" but we both think that drums are too loud and they don't have much sound variance.)
What is your favorite characteristic of Wooton?
His love for people and his unique outlook on life. He also has way cool hair but again that's about appearances again so never mind.
In what ways does Wooton portray you and your personality?
He's a sensitive guy and he's unintentionally funny at times. He quite often finds himself in situations he never thought he'd be in the middle of much like myself. I'm hoping to incorporate that into his character even more.
Of all the toys in his toy collection, what would your favorites be?
I'm not even sure what all toys he has! You have to remember that Wooton is very much a collaborative effort and some of the other writers might give him some terrific toys that I don't even know about yet. Out of my own personal collection of toys though I'd say one of my favorites was my Batmobile bank, but that's not really a toy, it's a bank. Okay, then maybe it's my two-foot Superman statue but hmm that's not really a toy either. My Buzz Lightyear alarm clock? No that's a clock. I know! It'd be my Creature From The Black Lagoon action figure! Yep, he's my favorite and that's because he has the head of my Mr. Whittaker figure. (Whit got damaged in a desk fight with the Justice League of America action figures. He was standing between Superman and Flash when the Evil Scooby-Doo action figure went on a rampage while I had writers block one day. The Creature lost his own head in an earlier battle with my dog, Sam.) Now I have a Creature From Odyssey action figure and he looks great! I might even turn it into a lamp if I find the right shade for it.
Where did Wooton live in Alaska?? May I suggest a few villages to choose from that will give you undying fans and make a few kids bounce off the walls for weeks?? (Odyssey has undying fans in Dillingham and Naknek who call us up at the station. Odyssey always is one of the most popular shows on the air when we survey)
Wooton lived in a place called Bear Valley but he did once go to a comic convention in Naknek. (Well, it wasn't really a convention it was just a couple of kids trading comics at a restaurant called Nacho Mama's but it was still fun.) He did have quite a fishing experience at Naknek Lake though and that might make it into a story sometime. The fishing is superb there!
Where did you get the idea for Wooton?
I was teaching classes and performing at the Gospel Music Association's Seminar in the Rockies when Paul McCusker approached me about the possibility of creating a character based on my own persona. He thought it would be easier for me to write for Odyssey if such a character existed and he was right.
Where did you come up with the name for Wooton?
I didn't come up with it at all. Paul McCusker is the person who gave Wooton his name. Apparently there is a town in England called Wooton Basset and he thought it would be a great name for a character. Paul, smart, Torry, dumb.
Where did you get the ideas for Wooton's "house"?
The ideas for Wooton's house are actually based on my apartment when I was in college. I had old records hanging from my ceiling all over the place and painted them bright colors then covered them with glitter and hung them from fishing wire. It was in California and it was always hot so the fan was constantly on and I liked to watch them spin while I was doing homework. I also had different sizes of plastic dinosaurs hanging from the ceiling in between them to sort of break up the monotony of the records. About 40 records and thirty dinosaurs are all it takes to spice a place up. I also had a wall that was completely covered with taped up newspapers that I called "The Great Wall of Thought". Anytime I was frustrated with my thesis paper or felt like drawing or writing a clever quote I would use giant marking pens and write and draw directly on the walls (newspaper covered of course). It got to be so popular that people from the other college apartments would come over to scribble, draw or write on them as well. It was just like living in a great big canary cage because I'd change the newspapers once a week to start all over again. I also had a grocery cart I found in the apartment complex and I turned into a phone stand so I could roll the phone with me while cleaning the house. Like I said, I like to talk.
This isn't as much of a question as it is a comment: When I was listening to "Welcoming Wooton," and I made a mental picture what what Wooton looked like. Then I saw Mr. Martin's picutre. I couldn't believe how much the two where the same.
I wasn't sure that Wooton would come across as being attractive since it's radio but you've certainly set my mind at ease. Thanks!
Aside from being an actor, comedian, author, speaker, teacher and writer what are some of the other jobs you've had?
Oh boy, where do I start? I've been fired from so many places! Let's see I've been a telephone operator, a tour guide, and a camp host. I've worked at fast food restaurants, comedy clubs, and at one time I was a courier for a law firm. I've done everything from working in a fish factory making caviar to hosting a children's television program in Anchorage. I've toured the nation in a musical for Columbia Artists and I've collected moose droppings in Alaska to make jewelry to sell to tourists. None of these are qualifications needed for writing for Odyssey though so if you want to write just go ahead and do it.
What are your favorite hobbies?
I love to cook and I'm pretty good at it. I graduated from a cooking school in Washington so I'm pretty good at the culinary arts. Umm I like to write and meet new people I love the outdoors and like to go gold mining. My parents are miners and they are two of the coolest people I know.
Has Wooton ever been married or will he be getting married some day?
No, Wooton has never been married and he's single. I hope that he remains that way as I plan to do the same in my own life and consider myself as being married to Jesus. Wooton is not exactly like me though and that's important to point out because some of the other writers might think it's a good idea to put him in a relationship and that's fine. My hope is that it wouldn't happen for a very long time though because I really see him as being a friend to everyone and having the freedom to take off impulsively for trips or adventures the way that I do.
Where do you come up for the ideas for your characters in your books?
I hate to admit this but I eavesdrop. I know, I know, but it's true. I listen to people, talk to them and observe them and take notes. I travel everywhere with a miniature tape recorder and record my ideas into it, which can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations. (I talk about that in my comedy performances.) I also write from my own experiences and almost all of the characters I've created like Judge Mental, Sergeant Salvation, and Granny Glockenspiel the Mall Missionary are based on actual people that I've met.
What is your comedy show like?
That's a little tricky to explain. Some people call me a comedian but I really think of myself as more of a storyteller. I tell stories based on my own life experiences then share a spiritual lesson that I learned from it at the end. They're called "Torry Stories". Basically I'm just a slightly twisted individual who leads this really sad, pathetic life that other people find amusing so I talk about it on stage. It's a lot like going to my therapist except my audience doesn't fall asleep.
Where do you perform?
All across the United States and wherever I'm wanted. I'm hoping one day to set up a tour to England but I'll have to study the language first. I'd love to go there though.
What is something that people would be surprised to find out about you?
That I can only type with two fingers so it takes me a really long time to write something. I also have absolutely no sense of direction so I have to carry a cell phone and pager everywhere I go because I can get lost on a moment's notice.
This has been a load of fun and I've enjoyed hearing from all of you. Thanks so much for all of the great questions and for allowing me the opportunity to share. I love meeting Odyssey fans wherever I'm performing and I hope to meet a lot more of you. You guys are the best!
Thank you, Torry!