By Caroline MacNeille '16
Adrienne Truscott '94 will be performing her critically acclaimed comedy show 'Asking For It' in Australia at the end of the month. The controversial show looks at the way people discuss rape in today's culture and "straddles the gap between performance art and comedy show." The Times (UK) calls it "a brilliantly bold and thoroughly engaging provocation."
For anyone who has watched with dismay as rape jokes became standard fare in comedy – or just anyone who wants their standup to mean something – this is an exhilarating hour. Truscott's got something major to get off her chest – and I'm not talking about the strip-tease sight gag that punctuates a date-rape routine mid-show. That sound like strong stuff? It is, and Truscott knows it: "anybody need the [rape] whistle?" she'll ask. "Everybody fine?"
But it's not a harangue; it's playful and smart. Throughout, Truscott crosses the wires of the angel and whore stereotypes, hamming up her golly-shucks comedy ingenue status while lacerating the comics who use sexual violence for laughs and the politicians who misrepresent it for votes.
Truscott is always a step ahead, or to one side, of the crowd. She teases us about Rohypnol and foetuses resulting from rape that have been labelled "a gift from God" – routines that put sexism squarely in its place without ever claiming moral purity for herself. It's so exhilarating to see the ugliness of rape discourse taken on, and bested, not with humourlessness or censoriousness, but with firecracker wit, sophistication and luminous humanity.
Image: c/o Adrienne Truscott
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