“Asking For It”: A one-woman comedy show that skewers rape culture

image via http://www.adriennetruscott.com
image via http://www.adriennetruscott.com

Did you hear the one about the dancer/performance-artist/comedian who did a funny one-woman show about rape? 

Though the majority of rape jokes told at comedy clubs are neither funny nor empowering, I’ve always thought that rape humor, in and of itself, is not inherently and automatically off limits. In comedy, as in all forms of art, the issue isn’t the content, but rather the perspective and framing.

image via youtube
image via youtube

Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman show, “Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else!which I saw at Joe’s Pub, proves not only that rape jokes can be acceptable but that they can be powerful tools of protest and education.

Over the course of an hour, Truscott, a choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, and comedian, skewers rape culture, taking on Bill Cosby, Todd Akin, Daniel Tosh and more, while wearing a wig on her head, high heels on her feet, and a jean jacket/ rolled up dress/bra(s) above her waist and for almost the entire piece, absolutely nothing over the area between her waist and ankles.

Truscott describes her humor as twisted and dark, in an interview with Australia’s SBS2 The Feed (see the video below), but is careful to distinguish between humor which challenges rape culture and humor which perpetuates it:

It’s a show that certainly satirizes rape culture and the notion of making jokes about the topic of rape…. Comedy provides a really razor’s edge sharp way to talk about tricky things. So, whereas I don’t think the act of rape is funny, I think the way that people talk about it and think about it is open to satire. I think as a comic you could partake in areas of material that are potentially offensive and tricky. But I think you have to be really rigorous about the joke and really give it some good thought. I personally wouldn’t make a joke that makes the victim of rape the punchline or making rape easier to pull off is the punchline.

“Asking For It” is coming to Australia and New Zealand and will be back in New York City on May 30th at Joe’s Pub.

Transcript of the video is below.

If I had to describe my sense of humor I think I would say it can be pretty twisted and dark and I guess edgy. It was a bit of a dicey project to try to pull off. I guess I would describe my show as an hour-long standup show with a few extra hijinks that come from the performance art world. It’s a show that certainly satirizes rape culture and the notion of making jokes about the topic of rape. I’m pretty solidly outraged by violence against women, particularly sexual violence. It’s still dealt with in a really cavalier way. And in the States some people were trying to legislate and define rape. It’s just outrageous and unacceptable in 2014. Comedy provides a really razor’s edge sharp way to talk about tricky things. So, whereas I don’t think the act of rape is funny, I think the way that people talk about it and think about it is open to satire. I think as a comic you could partake in areas of material that are potentially offensive and tricky. But I think you have to be really rigorous about the joke and really give it some good thought. While I think Daniel Tosh’s comeback was really weak, in a way I’m glad he did it because I think it sparked a really interesting conversation about rape. about gender and about comedy. I personally wouldn’t make a joke that makes the victim of rape the punchline or making rape easier to pull off is the punchline. The audiences have been really diverse. I’ve gotten several interesting reactions after my show. I had a young woman, who’s also a comic, come up to me after the show and say, “I’m so glad I saw this show, I was sexually assaulted when I was 17 and I’ve never sorted out how to deal with it and seeing your show and laughing with you about this stuff is the first time I’ve felt like I’ve opened the door to think my way through this in a way that’s gonna make sense to me.” My hope for my show is that it’s funny and that it continues to evolve and draw mixed audiences and gives them something to think about and laugh about and maybe when they leave it stays with them a little bit longer than the average joke.

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