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Julio Torres on Los Espookys
Photograph: Jennifer Clasen/HBO

Julio Torres on his favorite NYC spots, the changing comedy landscape and more

The star of 'Los Espookys' is keenly aware of the shifting nature of the comedy world.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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If you haven't yet caught up on Los Espookys, the Spanish-language HBO series about a group of horror-obsessed friends that turn their passion into a peculiar business, now is the time: season two is scheduled to premiere on September 16. 

Created by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega and Julio Torres, who all also star in the comedy, the show has been a critical success since its 2019 premiere—an incredible feat especially given the fact that a vast majority of the featured dialogue is in Spanish.

The importance of the series is not lost on 35-year-old Torres, a former Saturday Night Live writer who developed his comedic chops at open mic nights here in New York. "I think the show is indicative of how so many people live their lives as bilingual," he says. "Americans have been accustomed to have media created for them only in one language. The irony is that we are an immensely diverse country linguistically."

Just a few weeks ahead of the premiere of season 2 of Los Espookys, Torres opens up about his favorite spots in New York City, the shifting nature of the comedy world within New York's eclectic scene, his children's book I Want to be a Vase and more.

What can we expect from season 2 of Los Espookys?

"We really turned up the volume on the world we created and the uniqueness of it. At the same time, we now know the characters pretty well so we spent some time digging deeper into them."

How has the comedy industry changed in New York throughout the past decade?

"I'm still a relatively young comedian but, when I started off, the way in was attending open mic nights and the fantastic thing about New York is that, at any given night, there were different options all over. You would go, perform, meet people and then those people would tell you about a different open mic and you'd go with them. It felt immensely collaborative. When I first started I definitely felt like an anomaly and then, a bit before the pandemic, I was asked to do a show during a queer open mic and I was like, 'Wow! How are there enough queer people that they have a whole showcase dedicated to them?' I realized that, if I had started comedy now, I would not be an anomaly. That shift has been huge." 

What about social media?

“When people ask me now how to get in the business, I tell them how I did it but I don’t know if my answer still holds since social media has become the open mic. It’s good all someone needs in order to find a way in is a cellphone but it also becomes a competition on who gets more eyes on them on social media.”

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book I Want to be a Vase?

"It's about a plunger that wants to be a vase and it's inspired by my feeling that circumstance was putting me on a track while I wanted to do something else. With the book, I wanted to create something that feels like a certain kind of child would discover and cherish."

What is your favorite NYC spot?

"I've been going to this restaurant in Williamsburg called Magdalene pretty religiously. Once I find something that works for me, I do it over and over again. I'm also vegan so finding a place that I really like and has good food is always a plus. People say there are so many vegan places in New York but I feel like Brooklyn is going through this love of meat thing: it's all about fancy burgers, oysters and comfort foods."

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