Julio Torres Wrote The Sensitive ‘SNL’ Sketch That Became One Of Stephen Colbert’s All-Time Favorites

This niche parody commercial perfectly captured Colbert's childhood
Julio Torres Wrote The Sensitive ‘SNL’ Sketch That Became One Of Stephen Colbert’s All-Time Favorites

It’s hard to imagine the perpetually paternal Stephen Colbert as an actual human child – but, if he ever was one, kid Colbert would have loved the melancholic serenity of a mass-produced, plastic wishing well.

When it comes to grown-up, slightly gloomy and plenty whimsical sensitive former children, Julio Torres is their idiosyncratic comedy king. The accomplished screenwriter and showrunner’s specific brand of comedy caters to those who can find the most minute eccentricities charming and humorous. And, with his upcoming feature film debut, Problemista, Torres will add another thoughtfully niche work to his oeuvre as he plays a curious, aspiring toymaker toiling in the U.S. immigration system while suffering under a chaotic mistress played by Tilda Swinton. This, of course, is not Torres’ first time mining comedy out of fictional toys – when he was a writer on Saturday Night Live, Torres delivered one of the most unique and touching parody commercials in the show’s recent years with the 2016 sketch “Wells for Boys.” And, as we found out last night, Colbert was buying what Torres was selling.

During Torres’ appearance on last night’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the late-night host revealed that “Wells for Boys” was one of “my favorite SNL sketches ever,” saying that the wistful skit was, essentially, “just my childhood.” 

Torres explained the background of his sketch for introverted, creative children like his younger self in a 2017 interview with Vulture, saying of his own childhood, “I was very quiet. I was very reserved. I never got in trouble. I don’t think I did anything that warranted discipline. And I would just wait for recess to be over so I could go back to class and sit inside.”

“There was one small house we had when I was growing up, with this little backyard and an empty pot that collected water,” Torres said of the real-life makeshift well that inspired the sketch. “I would gently caress it when I needed it, I guess.”

The connection that Colbert had with the sketch on a personal level wasn't unusual either – Torres said that, after the sketch aired, “Someone on set, I don’t remember who it was, but she just grabbed out arm and said, 'Thank you. I have a sensitive boy.'”

As for Colbert's own childhood, the late-night legend grew up the youngest of eleven siblings, and, when he was just ten years old, his father and two of his brothers died tragically in the Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 plane crash. Colbert has been open about how grief and suffering shaped his developing years, noting how his creative passions, such as his obsession with the fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien, his love of Dungeons & Dragons and, later, his interest in improvisational comedy, helped him get through hardship during his adolescence.

Clearly, Colbert has had the “wildly passionate and successful creative life” predicted for sensitive boys in Torres' sketch, as has Torres himself. And, I guess, the Ed Sullivan Theater is symbolically like a Fisher Price balcony for Colbert to announce his latest joke about how Donald Trump is so very orange.


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