Everyone knows you're not supposed to write jokes about rape, right? Well, not so fast. Adrienne Truscott takes on the taboo topic in Asking For It, a runaway hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The comedian and performance artist, who has been touring all year, lands at the Bryant-Lake Bowl this Thursday and Friday. Performing nude from the waist down, Truscott takes aim at rape culture in a piece that has a mix of high-brow and low-brow antics.
Truscott had been thinking about the piece for a couple of years before deciding to bring it to Edinburgh last August.
"I was working on a cruise ship and hanging out with these other lady comedians," she says. The vibe on the ship was fairly conservative, "so I made a joke about rape. It came from a different angle than the average male comedian would joke about it."
The other female comedians laughed, because "we knew the satire that was involved. It felt liberating to all of us," she says. That's when she started thinking about using satire as a way to talk about rape and rape culture.
While Truscott believes that some male comedians do have intelligent jokes about rape, her take is less on the act itself and more about the logic and politics that surround issues about rape.
She took Asking For It to Edinburgh "in a sort of punky bit of the festival that's free," she says. She didn't want to have to charge admission, because she wasn't sure how it would be received, and she wanted people to take a chance on it. She also wanted to have control of her own publicity. "I realized it was a dodgy gamble," she says of premiering the show.
So far, she hasn't gotten a lot of negative criticism about the piece -- except from people who haven't seen it. She has had what she describes as some "intense and candid conversations" after the show, which have been amazing.
The piece works best, she believes, when there's a mixed crowd. Because of the show's title -- and the fact that she wears heels, a shirt, and no pants for part of the work -- she's gotten some people who come because "they heard there was a naked lady performing." She also has had audience members tell her that hearing her taking on the difficult material was liberating. She's noticed that different people laugh at different things, depending on what experiences they are coming from.
Truscott calls the show absurdist, with a mix of standup, video, dancing, and "ridiculous shenanigans." At times it veers a little into performance art, but there's also a banana peel. She updates the show periodically, taking on current events and working new material into the banter.
IF YOU GO:
Adrienne Truscott's Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday Bryant-Lake Bowl 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis $12/$15 www.bryantlakebowl.com
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