Adrienne Truscott won multiple awards when she took her one-woman show about rape jokes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, including honors for “Comic Originality” and the prestigious Panel Prize. That was August 2013.
Some three years later, the summer of 2016 finds Truscott doing “Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!” twice more back here in New York City (where she already had made a name for herself as one of The Wau Wau Sisters burlesque duo) at Joe’s Pub, perhaps for the final time tonight(?).
As Truscott explained during Saturday night’s show at Joe’s Pub: “I keep trying to put this show to rest, but it’s still super relevant right now.”
In a week of outrage over Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s lenient sentence. In a year or two of sustained shock at the horror at the hands of comedy legend Bill Cosby. The brutal evidence keeps coming.
And truth to power, Truscott keeps updating her script to address the latest examples of how rape culture is not only a sad joke, but hopefully something she can turn on its head.
Speaking of which. Wearing multiple blonde wigs atop her own head, I cannot tell you what her real hair looks like up there, although I can tell you exactly how she grooms her pubic hair. And how she can manipulate her crotch to become either a mouth or a mohawk as the faces of George Carlin or Robert DeNiro screen on her body as sight gags.
Truscott bounds onstage in her wigs, bras, a demin jacket, high heels and nothing else left to your imagination.
“I really struggled with what shoes to wear so I’d be taken seriously,” she jokes. She’s also eager and willing to leap into and bounce through the audience, interacting with men in role-playing games, or throwing additional garments of clothing at them.
“I feel real, real comfortable, even if none of you do,” she says.
Onstage, Truscott’s surrounded by framed photos of male stand-up comedians who’ve either joked about rape or defended the right for comedians to joke about rape, lined up on the wall behind her, on the floor at the front of the stage, and atop stools and ottomans. Daniel Tosh gets the stool. Cosby gets the ottoman. Because both, for better or much worse, feature prominently in Truscott’s performance.
Her conceit: That Truscott is so new to comedy, so she has to learn what rules to follow. Including rape jokes.
Her supposed naiveté allows her ample room to illustrate the double-standards that continue to hamper our cultural progress. She wonders what would happen, for instance, if she wanted to roofie a guy and bring him home. It wouldn’t work. “I didn’t have a whole system figured out like he did,” Truscott has, glancing at her framed Cosby photo.
Truscott also takes politicians to task by exploring their argument that if a rape results in pregnancy, then it’s not “legitimate rape,” and colleges for issuing rape whistles to their young female students. And yes, she has plenty to say already about Brock Turner, too.
Is this show a personal mission statement for Truscott? She answers her own rhetorical question. “Once when I was 15, and again when I was 19, I dreamed of someday doing an hour of observational comedy.”
Her show clearly appeals to her audiences, whether they be in Edinburgh, Australia or New York City. Perhaps if she’d get the eyeballs and attention of the men who don’t normally attend one-person shows like Truscott’s, then she’d finally persuade them to change what they’re doing, and allow her to finally put this show to rest.