"Saturday Night Live" writer Julio Torres loves shapes. He sees color in shapes, personality in shapes and style in shapes. Some of his closest friends are shapes.
Now that we got that out of the way, you’re ready to watch the Brooklynite’s stand-up special, "My Favorite Shapes," coming to HBO Saturday.
It has all the makings of a traditional comedy show — like a stage and a microphone — but that’s where the predictable elements end. The hourlong special taped at Elsewhere in Brooklyn features Torres, 32, sitting in front of a conveyor belt as he finds humor in the objects (a plexiglass square, toy figurines) coming his way.
"Objects have always been really funny to me," he says as he sits in the HBO offices overlooking Hudson Yards. He’s holding an abstract Lund-brand water bottle, a cylinder topped with a sphere cap.
In front of him, a handful of Ferrero Rocher chocolates have been arranged in square, triangle and circle cliques. One of them, we notice, is missing the base of its wrapper. Now to the average eye, this particular Ferrero Rocher is just a hazelnut candy waiting to be eaten. To Torres, it’s a stage diva sphere who’s showed up to work unprepared, without its "skirt."
Right now, he’s feeling like an oval, called Krisha.
"The second I saw her, I thought, game over. The star power is palpable and it fills up a room," he says in "My Favorite Shapes" about the clay-like object he’s named Krisha.
The Emmy-nominated comedian, who stars in HBO’s Spanish-language comedy "Los Espookys," manages to seamlessly bring us into his world through his interpretation of the dozens of objects he most identifies with. His comedy special touches on topics like self expression, relationships and a little politics. It even includes a brief sketch where Lin-Manuel Miranda voices a confused cactus.
"The idea is that I’m bringing someone into my workshop. Come over and let’s get to work. Let me show you my shapes," says the comedian. His fascination with shapes started at a young age, and most likely stems back to his mother, an architect.
His earliest comical experience with shapes happened when he was "pretty little," living in El Salvador with his parents.
"I remember going to a really, really small town with my family and a motel we stayed at was so poorly designed, the doors to the bathroom would hit the toilet. That, to me, was just so funny. The idiocy behind that."
Torres moved to Bushwick from El Salvador 10 years ago, after setting his sights on the city as a child. "I never even learned how to drive because I was adamant about moving to New York," he says. "I knew I wanted to write funny things, maybe TV, maybe film, and it felt like New York had to be that place. Why would I not live in the place I see in the movies?"
A decade after setting down in the city, the comedian has found himself reaching back to his childhood. "This special feels a lot like me just being a kid and playing."
"My Favorite Shapes" airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.
Julio Torres gives his take on NYC’s iconic shapes
"I was addicted to the bagel for the first half of my time here. Whole-wheat bagel with tofu every day of my life. Aesthetically, I don’t like it. It’s so big. It doesn’t photograph well. It’s tasty, but aesthetically I would never play with a bagel."
"I don’t get it. Overplayed. Trite. Not for me."
"We could do more. We could do more. We’re looking at a canvas and so far it’s white noise."
An iconc taxi
"These taxis are great. That is the taxi I thought I was going to see as soon as I left the airport. The iconic taxi. The ones now are underwhelming."
Statue of Liberty
"Objectively, a very pretty statue. But, the Statue of Liberty needs to just chill out with its presence and needs to let another symbol for freedom come along."
Torres’ favorite: The sky bridge
"New York City is filled with sky bridges which are my favorite architectural features. I love those, around the Flatiron District are a couple of my favorite."