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SNL’s Julio Torres is changing the comedy world, one shape at a time

SNL’s Julio Torres is changing the comedy world, one shape at a time

head shot of julio torres, he as silver grey short hair and grey glitterunder his eyes

For the entirety of Julio Torres’ unique comedy show, he’s sat behind a big table as he parades some of his favourite shapes and knick knacks along a rudimentary conveyor belt. Torres live streams the presentation from his phone and projects it onto a screen behind him.

That setup doesn’t sound like it would make for a good comedy show. But trust me, he’s really, really funny.

Performing his aptly titled show, My Favourite Shapes, at London’s Soho Theatre all this week, Torres told Gay Star News carting around all that equipment halfway across the world has been the highlight of his career so far.

‘Requiring a conveyer belt for a show, and witnessing the cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles of bringing it to the UK. Before that, it was shipping a giant crystal for my half hour special in New Orleans. I love drama with a heavy prop!’ Torres says, tongue-in-cheek.

julio torres sits at a small table covered with a blue tablecloth holding broken flowers, his chin rests in one of his hands and he looks at the camera sultrly
Julio Torres is a quirky, but hilarious guy. | Photo: Supplied/Sandy Honig

Rising star

The Brooklyn based comedian was born in El Salvador and decided to emigrate to the United States to pursue a career in comedy. So far he has done very well for himself.

Torres tells me his parents are ‘happy that I’m happy’ with his decision to become a comedian. But in My Favorite Shapes, Torres admits they don’t quite understand his latest show.

He joined the coveted writer’s team at Saturday Night Live last year where he penned the memorable Melania Moments and Wells for Boys sketches. Torres is also a regular correspondent on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.

In 2013, Torres was a finalist in the NBC Stand-Up for Diversity showcase and then was named one of Comedy Central’s 2014 Comics to Watch. In 2015, Julio was honoured as one of the New Faces in the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and was picked by Time Out as one of their rising stars. Torres can also be seen on Louis CK’s Horace & Pete as well as High Maintenance on HBO.

Representation matters

As a LGBTI comedian and writer, Torres doesn’t underestimate the importance of his presence in the SNL’s writer’s room.

‘The more varied the voices creating entertainment, the more varied options viewers have. Everyone wins!’ he said.

It’s his quirky offbeat style that has captured people’s attention and labelled Torres as guy who is going to change the face of comedy.

But it’s Torres’ command of timing and the audience’s attention that makes him a comedic wonder. He seamlessly shifts from the absurd – including admiring the beauty of a Ferrero Rocher wrapper – to biting political commentary.

In the time of US President’s Donald Trump unprecedented crackdown and deportation of Latinx people, Torres wonders why people would be worried he came to America to take their jobs as he watches his small plastic shapes roll across the conveyor belt.

Torres allows the audience to take in the absurdity of the situation and makes no attempt to diffuse the audience’s tension and anticipation. Where lesser comedians might try to fill the silence, Torres leaves people hanging, but very eager for what comes next.

All shapes and sizes

He chose to dedicate an entire show to his favorite shapes and trinkets, so that he can share their backstories. There’s a black brooch that’s Helena Bonham Carter and some random objects that look like Tilda Swinton’s apartment.

‘I just met so many little objects while out and about living my life and thought “you MUST be seen!”,’ Torres says.

But it’s Torres who MUST be seen. As SNL star Kate McKinnon said ‘Julio’s brain is a strange, marvellous place. You must go.’

Torres is about to become an international comedy superstar and catching him on his current tour might just be your last chance to see this whacky genius in an intimate venue before he inevitably starts selling out huge theatres.

My Favorite Shapes by Julio Torres. Soho Theatre, 6-11 August, 8.45pm.