How to Not Tell a Rape Joke–Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else!

Performance still from ASKING FOR IT

Performance still from ASKING FOR IT

Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else! is a performance that’s very much about performance. It’s a one-woman show where the performer runs out into the audience to steal sips of audience member drinks, leaving lipstick trails on our cocktail glasses. The character that Adrienne Truscott portrays is a party girl who just wants to go out and have fun. Along the way, she encounters a bartender who wants to get her blackout drunk so that the men at his bar can have their way with her… again. When told from this character’s perspective, the idea is horrifying. Then you start to realize how nonchalantly this “joke” could be told from a comic’s mouth into a microphone. Truscott’s anonymous character is the female butt of a misogynist joke manifested in the flesh. She’s the embodiment of the woman whose body and misery is someone else’s punch line. Truscott wants the audience to remember that the woman on the receiving end of a rape joke is in fact a real human being who statistically is out in the world being assaulted somewhere right now.

Truscott’s award-winning show uses Truscott’s painstaking research on rape jokes—and the straight cisgender male comics who make them—to create a barrage of rape culture that is both empowering and disconcerting. Asking For It forces its audience to confront the reality behind the rape joke. It seems to say, rape isn’t pleasant, so why should making jokes about it be easy? This is the first comedic show I’ve seen where every awkward moment felt intentional and necessary.

Performing the show nude from the waist down, Truscott creates endless tension around what she is going to say or do next. Bursting on stage in a long blonde wig, hot pink bra, denim jacket and nothing else except for platform heels, she proclaims: “I feel comfortable even if you don’t.” Truscott pushes the audience to consider what it means when someone says a woman was “asking” to be raped. At one point, her character lists garment and accessories that women are frequently told not to wear to avoid being sexually assaulted, and realizes that maybe the safest bet really is for her to go out naked. As Flavorwire‘s review of the show put it, “…Truscott’s nudity seemed less objectifying and more confrontational than a sexy outfit would have… She had all the power.”

Truscott enacts a character who says she is “new” to comedy, but tells her audience not to worry because she’s been “watching the pros.” On the stage surrounding her, there are framed portraits of at least a dozen professional male comedians who have either been accused of rape (Bill Cosby), made rape jokes (Daniel Tosh) or are rape apologists (Kurt Metzger). It’s a horrific idea to think that anyone of any gender would enter a field thinking this is who they are supposed to look up to and learn from, but that’s part of the constant questioning that Truscott’s humor and style is comprised of.

Truscott’s idea of breaking audience tension is to ask questions like “So, anyone here ever been raped before?” One woman in the audience yelled that she had been. Then Truscott reminded us that statistically speaking, there was likely to be a rapist in our presence. No one laughed. And that’s just one of the sharp ways the show works—asking audiences what’s funny and what’s not—where is that line between humor and going too far? As someone interested in the comedic process, the show was exciting on that level alone.

Adrienne Truscott

Adrienne Truscott

Other highlights of the show included Truscott’s character role-playing with men in the audience—and watching the interactions take unexpected turns—strategically placed video projections, a rape whistle, and a final manifesto against rape culture set to a Flo Rida song that managed to not feel at all didactic. Truscott brilliantly turned a rape whistle into the ultimate symbol of heartbreakingly futility. In a perfect world, this show wouldn’t have to exist as there wouldn’t be enough material for it, but in a perfect world a rape whistle wouldn’t have to exist either. Since it does, Adrienne Truscott is here to remind us that rape is not funny, but breaking the silence about the absurdity of rape culture can be hilarious.

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One Response to How to Not Tell a Rape Joke–Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else!

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