Julio Torres Just For Laughs, Montreal QC, July 28
Published Jul 29, 2018There are few comics that truly throw out the conventions of comedy like Saturday Night Live writer Julio Torres. Torres's show My Favorite Shapes is quite literally just him looking at a bunch of different shapes while sitting at a desk. With a few dozen assorted items in front of him that range from a square to a figurine of Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Torres still has the excited imagination of a little kid playing with his toys, but a whimsical cleverness beyond his years.
Pointing his phone camera at his collection of objects and projecting the view behind him to invite the audience into his tiny world, Torres's My Favorite Shapes combines the nostalgia of childhood playfulness and the absurdity of a mature wit to create a masterpiece. His hour of standup performed sitting down defied genre, medium and even the physical scale of performance itself in one fell swoop.
Following Brandon-Ash Mohammed's flamboyantly funny set about the reasons he knows he was gay since before he was born, Julio Torres approached his table of perfectly organized tchotchkes. With each object, he unfathomably proceeded to make something inanimate into brilliantly surreal humour.
Though it involved a lot of items, Torres's hour didn't feel like prop comedy: there were no loud, colourful items that were painstakingly constructed to fit weirdly specific punch lines like you'd find in a Carrot Top show. Instead, the items were simply cues for discussion, often in the form of comically out-of-place philosophy. A square became a metaphor for capitalism. A circle ended up representing communism. A toy that takes small penguins up an escalator and sends them racing down a slide became a metaphor for the enforcement of the class system.
Having said that, many of the objects were simply themselves, with no political agendas attached. A tiny mirror shone light at the camera's eye to create the perfect glare. A clear crystal suddenly seemed oddly alive once Torres sat it in a tiny chair. A McDonald's Happy Meal toy named Eric coyly revealed his bulgy eyed face to huge laughs. You could never anticipate what would happen, let alone understand how Torres thinks in the majestically unreal way that he does.