EXCLUSIVE: Comedic multi-hyphenate Julio Torres (A24’s Problemista) has struck a deal with Ars Nova, the Off-Broadway, non-profit theater in NYC, that will see them partner to identify, develop, and commission full-length projects from early-career comedy artists.
The collaboration further expands Ars Nova’s two-decade commitment to new comedy at a time when support systems for NYC-based artists have decreased. Under the partnership, Torres and Ars Nova will look to provide comedians with opportunities for development and production outside of the traditional model of sketch shows and 10-minute sets. They’ll offer funding up front to create brand new, uniquely theatrical shows, while providing mentorship and development resources to the artists involved, the first set for a commission being Ars Nova Vision Residency Alum River L. Ramirez. Others will be announced at a later date.
To celebrate the alliance, Torres will return to the Ars Nova stage on October 26 to host Showgasm. — the theater’s variety-show-meets-party that serves up comedy, burlesque, and more. In addition to the newly commissioned Ramirez, Showgasm. will feature performances by Spike Einbinder, Macy Rodman, and Max Wittert, among others. Tickets are Name Your Price starting at $5 with every dollar going directly to the artists involved.
“This is such a dream—I get to guide Ars Nova into commissioning shows from my brilliant friends, starting with the unique and powerful River L. Ramirez, who has been an inspiration of mine since I met them years ago doing open mics,” said Torres in a statement to Deadline. “Many years ago, John Early introduced me to Ars Nova where I had my first solo show. I’m proud that now I get to put the spotlight on others and give them the resources they need to translate their talent and experience into formal commissions by a welcoming theater.”
Added Founding Artistic Director Jason Eagan, “Julio is a singular talent whose groundbreaking work in comedy and television continues to redefine our culture. We’re ecstatic to have him actively in our community again and inspired by his desire to help the next wave of comedy talent break barriers, by getting their work made and seen. Placing this partnership alongside our ongoing comedy residency program CAMP, led by Matt Gehring and Mahayla Laurence, further cements Ars Nova’s commitment to its comedy, music, theater, and everything-in-between, mission.”
A Brooklyn-based comedian, writer, filmmaker and actor, Torres is best known for his Emmy-nominated and WGA-winning writing on Saturday Night Live, the Peabody and GLAAD Award-winning HBO series Los Espookys, which he co-created with Fred Armisen and Ana Fabrega, and his forthcoming directorial debut Problemista, a comedy he wrote and stars in alongside Tilda Swinton, which premiered at SXSW and will premiere theatrically in 2024, having been one of the many titles pushed out of 2023 amidst the strikes from the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. A24 and Emma Stone’s Fruit Tree Films are the producers.
First performing on the Ars Nova stage in 2014, Torres has also been seen on shows like High Maintenance, Search Party and Shrill, the Ed Helms-Patti Harrison indie Together Together, and on assorted late-night shows, where he’s performed stand-up. His next TV series, Fantasmas, will premniere on HBO next year.
A NYC-based experimental performance artist, comedian, musician, storyteller and writer, Ramirez appears in Torres’ Problemista and Los Espookys and previously wrote, produced and directed the comedy special program Pervert Everything for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. They teach performance and public speaking at The Brick Aux in BK, perform experimental comedy at Littlefield in BK, and have been commissioned for original musical and dance-based performances by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Gibney, Ars Nova Vision Residency program, and Moma PS1. Named one of Comedy Central’s Up Next Comedians for 2018, Ramirez has additionally written for High Maintenance and The National Lampoon Radio Hour.
Artist incubator Ars Nova operates under the leadership of Eagan, Producing Executive Director Renee Blinkwolt, and Managing Director Casey York. Honored with an Obie Award and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for sustained quality and commitment to the development and production of new work, the theater is based in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Notable past productions include Heather Christian’s three-time Lortel Award-winner Oratorio for Living Things, directed by Lee Sunday Evans; Lortel Award-winner, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future, created by Andrew R. Butler and directed by Jordan Fein; The Lucky Ones, created by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher, and directed by Anne Kauffman; Lortel winner KPOP, created by Jason Kim, Max Vernon, Helen Park, and Woodshed Collective, and directed by Teddy Bergman; Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard’s Obie Award-winner Underground Railroad Game, directed by Taibi Magar; Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds, directed by Rachel Chavkin; Dave Malloy’s Tony Award-winning Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, directed by Rachel Chavkin; the world premiere of the 2009 season’s most-produced play boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, directed by Alex Timbers; the show that put Bridget Everett on the map, At Least It’s Pink by Everett, Michael Patrick King, and Kenny Mellman, which had King serving as director; and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail’s first New York production, Freestyle Love Supreme by Anthony Veneziale and Miranda, and directed by Kail.