All Things Entertaining and Cultural

Asking For It — Simpatico Theatre at Adrienne Skybox

untitled (118)Adrienne Truscott is one shrewd lady.

She subtitles her show as “a rape about comedy starring her pussy and little else.”

She is true to her advertising. Truscott comes on stage with her vagina exposed and dances with glee while telling a male member of the audience to “try harder” to look her in the eye while she is talking to him.

The move is flamboyant, but like Lenny Bruce, a comic Truscott cites as being a model for bold, she proves that continued use of anything, whether a word or naked genitals, takes away its novelty and renders it ordinary and without power to shock.

Of course, Truscott finds creative ways to use her rather well-cropped pubes by projecting pictures of men, mostly rappers advocating sexual violence, singing various tunes on it. In another flight of comic fancy, she asks, “Hey, why it is that all of these men look as if the have a goatee?”

It’s brave, funny stuff. Truscott rambles on for 70 minutes, talking to her audience. Her material is more bright than rollicking, but there’s enough smartness to Truscott’s act to maintain interest and elicit laughs.

The shrewdness comes in when you realize Truscott’s aim and how slyly she carries it out.

Within the first three minutes of her show, “Asking For It,” she says she is going to do rape jokes. She talks about other comics, like Bruce and Joan Rivers, who got away with making jokes about subjects that are usually taboo. She mentions the jam that comedian and TV host Daniel Tosh got in by talking about rape jokes at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory, and about how deftly Tosh dodged damaging controversy for the act.

Truscott does about everything but tell an actual rape joke.

There’s her one touch of subtlety and broad stroke of brilliance.

“Asking For It'” does not find humor in rape — thank goodness — as much as it lampoons the people who dismiss or excuse rape with clichés they mean to taken lightly or as a means of shrugging off the violation of sexual assault.

For instance, a woman who appears in an open denim top with a gigantic pink bra bursting from its bodice and no material that covers past her navel must be sending a message she wants to be ravished. Right?

Especially when that woman is wearing nothing at all below her navel and has her vagina there for all to see. And when she has a good body and nice buns and legs that add to her attractiveness.

Truscott does everything women are told not to do in the name of prudence and their own protection.

She wears make-up. She accentuates mammary assets. She bares her bum and snatch. She carries a beer, as does just about everyone in her audience, and she moves salaciously with a sexy strut. Her shoes are white patent leather clogs with three-inch heels. At one point, she does a strip-tease.

This woman is a fox. She must be begging for sexual action. Why else would she make such an effort to look so horny and available?

Because that’s Truscott’s act. That’s the joke.

She doesn’t start stories with, “Three sluts went into a bar…” She breaks every rule of defensive dating.

Her point, another joke, is a woman doesn’t ask to be molested or raped, even if she exposes her vagina and leaves it exposed for 20 minutes, even when she pretends to put on a dress but puts it on upside down in a way that continues to reveal her cunt.

The comedy is that men, or dowager aunts, or society in general, blames women for inviting an act of violence.

Women are told not to doll up or wear clothes that are too revealing. They are certainly not encouraged to flaunt their boobs or walk down the street vagina forward. Cyndi Lauper’s notion of fun is verboten if a girl isn’t asking for a date rape drug or worse.

Even in the last extreme instance, the exposed vagina, Truscott is saying men, or even other women, just have to be disciplined and go though the usual rituals of wooing, courtship, or at least asking permission before taking advantage of another human, no matter how she is attired or how seductively she dances.

Truscott finds humor in the excuses people make that minimize or make a joke about rape. She excoriates the Missouri senatorial candidate who said a woman cannot conceive a child during a “legitimate” rape because her body will shut down and stop any biological process that would lead to pregnancy. What?!?

She mentions others, male and female, who have made comments and conjectures just as foolish.

She takes Daniel Tosh to task for suggesting rape jokes have a place in comedy. Even after she establishes her audience is willing to forgive Tosh.

Truscott’s show is really about comedy and what is intentionally funny, framed as a joke and designed to elicit laughs, and the incidental comedy when people, to quote Bob Dylan, “philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears.”

Truscott takes to task all who try to explain rape away or blame the victim. They are her sources of humor. She doesn’t tell jokes about rape. She ridicules those who do, especially those who spout twaddle that is devoid of biological or common sense.

What Truscott says is people must not be violent towards one another and must exercise self-control no matter what the purported provocation. Believing a vagina is open territory because it’s exposed is the same as believing a stack of $50 bills is yours because you happen to be in the same room as it. She mentions statistics that say one in 10 people is a potential rapist. She asks if there are any rapists in the Skybox. When she gets no response, she says, “Then there must be several at Helium across the street to make up for the statistical gap here.”

By stressing the amoral pap people, particularly politicians, say about rape, Truscott underscores the real morality associated with human relations.

None of what I’ve talked about is done overtly. That’s why I say Truscott is shrewd. She couches her message in a loose, raunchy show that sprawls all over the place and seems to have little purpose but to schmooze amiably with a willing audience plied by beer. (I was lucky. I would never drink the Budweiser set out for $1 a can, but right before Truscott took the stage, the Simpatico folks, living up to their name, set out Yuengling, and I could partake.)

As with Hamlet, there’s method in the madness Truscott creates. Her questions, her audience participation, her warning she’s about to tell rape jokes, are all ploys to cunningly mask the real thrust of her show, putting those who blame victims of rape in their place.

Truscott may not do her job efficiently or surgically, but she does it thoroughly once her drift becomes clear, and you realize the free-wheeling alky nympho in front of you is the comic persona, but the thoughts about comedy and what people hear from leaders, including gangsta rappers, or are asked to accept is the crux of the show. And that part is smart, and smartly done.

Be prepared to go with Truscott’s random maunderings. The crowd I sat with was small but receptive. It might take a while before you see where Truscott is leading, but once her intention dawns on you, you’ll find it admirable.

“Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else” runs through Sunday, November 16, produced by Simpatico Theatre Project at the Adrienne Skybox, 2030 Sansom Street, in Philadelphia. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained by calling 215-423-0254 or by visiting


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