Velvet Wells dazzles in Toronto Fringe Festival show “Djinn Joint”
In what has been one of my more interesting experiences this term, I was invited to participate in Djinn Joint hosted by the one and only Velvet Wells.
It was an event full of positivity, improvisation, music and fun.
The show was presented digitally, as the pandemic prevents what would have otherwise have been an electric display.
Organized by Toronto Fringe, the event takes place in a charming 8-bit world where everyone has the option to create a custom avatar.
The show itself stars Velvet Wells; a Laurier and second city graduate, with an incredible talent for improvisational comedy and musical stylings.
The audience submits wishes at designated “wishing stations” and Velvet has members of the audience vote on which wishes he should grant. It’s a joyful, family-friendly affair where all audience members feel included and relaxed. Overall, it was a very memorable experience.
I was fortunate enough to interview Wells the next day about himself and his motivation behind Djinn Joint.
His intentions are genuine, as he explained to me how he“Errs on the side of being positive and joyful. I want [to have] as much fun being a performer as the audience does [watching me].”
Things are kept light during the show, as one of its main goals is to be people-pleasing, ideally working as a trauma response for those who have unfortunately suffered.
While the show is lighthearted, Wells stressed the important social messaging inherent in Djinn Joint.
“While we keep things light in a comedy show, we also stand up for what we believe in,” Wells said.
This is in reference to Djinn Joint’s subversion of the “magical minority” trope seen in nearly all forms of media.
Essentially, the trope points out the many instances where a BIPOC side character has some incredible knowledge or power that they use exclusively to help the caucasian protagonist.
This representation in fictional media can lead to many white people believing the sole function of racialized characters is to help them.
In contrast, Djinn Joint stars Velvet Wells, a Black man playing a genie who has the power to grant wishes.
This completely flips the magical minority archetype as it is Wells who gets assistance and advice from the audience, not the other way around.
Thus creating a response to the trope that’s both effective and inspires inner reflection from its viewers.
After talking with Wells, you begin to understand that he’s a very genuine and thoughtful person.
This seems to factor in his decision to portray a genie in his show. “I feel pretty magical and people treat me as [if] I’m pretty magical.”
There is little surprise as to why people treat Wells this way.
He radiates positive energy and good vibes. If you have a bit more happiness in your life, I encourage you to look up Djinn Joint at the Toronto Fringe Festival. They have three more shows this coming month on Nov. 13, 20, and the 28.