ADRIENNE TRUSCOTT'S asking for it. She struts onto the stage wearing a short denim jacket, big blonde hair, high heels, and nothing else. She opens a can of Coors Light, and she begins an hour-long set chock-full of rape jokes.
Produced by BoomArts, Adrienne Truscott's Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy & Little Else, opened at the Headwaters Theatre on October 15 and will run through this weekend, bringing a brilliant genre-bending performance artist to Portland. The title of the show might suggest a lewd and provocative piece that skewers rape culture. And it is. But not in the way you'd think. Truscott lands a sophisticated discourse on the subject through an intelligent, vulnerable stand-up set that is very, very funny.
Opening with an especially crass rape joke, Truscott lobs a variety of them at her audience. "Thank you all for coming," she says in her chipper, sweet southern drawl. "Bet you didn't expect to hear that at a rape!" The Portland audience laughs uncomfortably. Should we be laughing at these jokes? On a stage adorned with headshots of male comedians—Daniel Tosh, Jimmy Carr, and Bob Stanhope, to name a few—known to tell and defend rape jokes (plus Bill Cosby), Truscott repeatedly declares she's "new at this" and "it's hard to know the line." She mingles with the audience, solicits feedback, and shows us a whistle we can come on stage to blow if things get to be too much.
The show engages the topic of "what's funny, what's a joke, what's a rape," Truscott tells us. "I hope you're here because you like comedy," she says, and indeed, the show seems to be primarily focused on probing our sense of humor, experimenting with what jokes will land and how, and whether a woman dressed in a way that might be construed as "asking for it" can re-appropriate the rape joke.
Does she? I'm sure there will be a variety of responses, and I think this is what Truscott is ultimately asking for.