Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman show Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is part burlesque performance-art, part stand-up comedy act, part feminist conversation-piece. But if there’s one thing the self-described evening of rape jokes is not, it’s shy.
Clad only from the waist up and ankles down for much of the show, with a stack of blonde wigs on her head, Truscott uses her bared lower body and a cheery Southern belle persona to challenge and re-appropriate humor and cultural myths about rape in a manner that feels deeply, provocatively feminist without being preachy. She uses photographs of male comedians like Bill Cosby and Daniel Tosh as props, and her bare body becomes a screen for projections of words and songs that comment on rape culture. All the while, she’s swigging beer and behaving in a way that challenges the assumption that anyone is ever asking for it. Like feminist comedians Sarah Silverman, Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, and Amy Schumer, Truscott is doing the work to reclaim comedic territory that was once aggressively hostile to women.
To intrepidly explore the radical potential of (naked) feminist rape comedy, two Flavorwire staffers and one feminist comedian attended a sold-out midnight performance of Asking For It at Joe’s Pub in New York, where the show will return May 30. A few days later, we discussed our reactions.
Sarah Seltzer: Did either of you have a favorite joke or gag or prop? My favorite was the rape whistle by the side of the stage that Truscott kept working back into conversation. (“Does anyone feel uncomfortable? Just grab the whistle!”) This running gag reminded me constantly of the futile and pathetic ways we try to make ourselves feel better as a society by “arming” women against rape.
Judy Berman: I was super into the framed Daisy Duck picture Truscott used to illustrate the wild connection she made between Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and ducks’ decoy vaginas, which actually do have “ways to shut that whole thing down.” To me, the show can’t really be broken down into individual jokes, but that bit is a good representation of how it managed to be intelligent, political, and funny at the same time.
Katie Halper: One of the things I loved about the entire piece was how unapologetically humorous it was. Every time it seemed like she was saying something earnest and conciliatory, she would undercut it with a joke or a cringe-worthy statement. It was incredibly funny and moving at the same time, while never feeling trivializing or manipulative. Continue reading