Julio Torres is one of the most singular voices working in comedy today. Fully embodying his Instagram handle, @spaceprincejulio, the actor-writer-director brings an otherworldly yet stately perspective to all of his work—and we just feel lucky he decided to grace Earth with his presence.
Born in El Salvador, Torres moved to New York City to attend The New School and quickly became a staple of the Brooklyn alt-comedy scene. After working on The Chris Gethard Show, he joined the writer’s room at Saturday Night Live where he leant his distinctive voice to some of the most beloved, queer-themed sketches in recent memory, like the unforgettable “Wells For Boys” and “The Actress,” in which Emma Stone stars as Deirde, who brings real commitment and gravitas to her role as “the woman who gets cheated on in a gay porn.”
Since garnering attention for his unique SNL sketches, Torres has gone on to create a visually arresting hourlong comedy special, My Favorite Shapes, HBO’s instant-cult-comedy series, Los Espookys (which finally has a second season on the way), and now a wildly original children’s book, I Want To Be A Vase.
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One gets the sense that these diverse yet distinctly “Julio Torres” projects are just the beginning of the artist’s long career, and one can only imagine what he might create at the height of his fantastical powers. Perhaps his magnum opus will be his upcoming, untitled directorial debut—starring Tilda Swinton and Isabella Rossellini, among others—or perhaps he has many more opuses yet to come.
With an unmistakably queer sensibility, Torres has an acute ability to bring magic to the mundane, to inspire you to see the world—even everyday household items—through new eyes.
Below, we’ve assembled a list of five common objects the comedian has set his enchanted sights on, unlocking their previously untapped potential, and allowing us to see them for the queer icons they’ve always been.
In one of his earliest SNL sketches, Torres invites us into the internal monologue of this gorgeous, yet completely out-of-place statement sink that laments it’s “the answer to a question that no one asked.” The writer’s carefully observed humor prompts all kinds of existential musings in a sketch that’s barely over 90-seconds long. Though the sink is voiced by Emily Blunt, the clip features no other stars or cast members, giving you an idea of Julio Torres’ comedic sensibilities in their purest form.
Some of Torres’ work at SNL did make space for famous faces, typically using the host’s glamorous star-power to underline his point, like in this hysterical ad for “cheques.” Starring Sandra Oh and shot like a colorful Pedro Almodóvar melodrama, the sketch plays up the spectacle inherent to the largely-outdated mode of payment because, as Cecily Strong’s hushed voiceover notes, “there’s nothing like furiously scribbling on a piece of paper, tearing it, flicking your wrist, and saying, ‘I trust this will suffice.'”
Krisha The Chicken McNugget Toy
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Torres’ inventive My Favorite Shapes special is a literal conveyor belt of curios, but most notable is Krisha, the anthropomorphic McDonald’s Happy Meal toy that the comic hails as a “true star.” She makes a grand entrance—the same way Kate Winslet did in Titanic—and leaves a big impression, so much so that, should you visit Torres’ Instagram page, you’ll see just as many photos of Krisha as you do of him. In the words of Wendy Williams, Krisha is an icon, she’s a legend, and she is the moment—now come on now!
Now, this is no ordinary bird of prey—it’s a little owl with a wig—but it proves that Torres’ mind is operating at a different level than most. Sure, many stories paint owls as wise creatures, but he has the nerve to ask: What if owls were glamorous, too? While the bird is an all-too-brief sight gag in Torres’ brilliant Los Espookys, it illustrates the amount of care and detail he brings to every frame, every line of dialogue in the series. Charming, strange, and more than a little gay, Los Espookys is well worth a re-watch ahead of its return later this year.
Torres’ latest creation is this vibrant children’s book (illustrated by Julian Glander), one that not-so-subtly teaches readers young and old that they are free to express themselves however they choose. He channels his dry sense of humor and love of household objects into a thought-provoking short story that, while itself absurd, calls out the absurdity of the people (and dusty old vacuums) who want to tell others what they can and can’t be. Like much of his work, I Want To Be A Vase embraces otherness and offers a glimpse into a brighter, better world.