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Julio Torres: My Favorite Espooky

Ophira Eisenberg and Julio Torres chat on <em>Ask Me Another</em> at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif
Ophira Eisenberg and Julio Torres chat on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Julio Torres may not yet be a household name in comedy, but if you've recently stayed up late to watch Saturday Night Live and seen some bizarre and memorable sketches about Wells for Boys, the font Papyrus, or Hamsters, you perhaps already know his work as a writer. Torres' unique brand of comedy is now reaching more people with two new projects — the HBO series Los Espookys, and his latest special, My Favorite Shapes.

Julio Torres appears on <em>Ask Me Another</em> at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif / NPR
Julio Torres appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

After growing up in El Salvador for most of his life, Torres moved to New York City to attend The New School in 2009. His initial interest was to become a writer, but after some time working odd jobs as a post graduate liberal arts student, Torres decided to try comedy. Ten years and countless performances later, Torres has earned a reputation for the often odd and personal blend of stand-up. In his latest HBO special, My Favorite Shapes,Torres uses a conveyor belt to unveil obscure objects from his past and present to tell stories and observations about his life.

Torres is moving from the stage to the screen, as the co-creator, writer and star of the HBO series, Los Espookys. Joined by co-stars and co-creators, Fred Armisen and Ana Fabrega, the bilingual comedy depicts a group of friends who stage fake supernatural events by request of clients in need of a little absurdist horror.

At the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York, Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's Ask Me Another, challenged Torres' spooky senses to a game with some unbelievably real-life hoaxes and some unexpected Bachelor contestants.

Interview Highlights

Julio Torres, on his early days in stand-up doing open mics:

"I found myself very comfortably going on Wednesday afternoon, to this Italian restaurant in Little Italy called Cha Chas. What I liked about Cha Cha's — and something that I am currently un-packing with my therapist — is that Cha Chas was the most difficult option I could find. People my age, or people who would like what I do, did not go to Cha Cha's."

On the premise of his seriesLos Espookys:

"This group of friends make horror experiences for whoever might be in need of them. We've been describing it as 'Scooby Doo in reverse.' They don't solve the mystery, they create it. They are on the side of deceit."

On his mother and sisters' creative impact onMy Favorite Shapes:

"My mom designed clothes when I was a little boy, which explains a lot. She's an architect by trade in El Salvador. And my sister has blossomed into this very talented designer as well. Something I always thought about is that my mom would make doll houses for me, because there was no doll house in existence that was exactly how I imagined it. So I was like 'The doors [have] to open this way, and the staircase has to come here... or else, I may as well not play at all.' And my mom would take cardboard and an exacto-knife and make these houses for me. So now, that I am lucky enough to do a stand-up special, I was like 'Well, they should design the set.'... It was a New York, El Salvador collaboration that I am so happy with."

On his family's reaction to his comedy:

"My mom only speaks Spanish — so that was something that caught me off guard about Los Espookys. I was like 'Oh my god, she can sit and fully immerse herself in something I made,' which is the first time that's ever happened."

Heard on Julio Torres: My Favorite Espooky.

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