A Funny Play About Rape Is Happening In Philly This Week

Here's our Q&A with the woman behind it.


Starting this weekend, Adrienne Truscott, a native of Linwood, Delaware County, is performing her critically-acclaimed show Adrienne Truscott’s Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else in Philadelphia, a production of Simpatico Theatre Project.

Yes, it’s a comedy about rape and one that was the underground hit of the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. Naturally, we had to get the Brooklynite on the phone to find out what the hell she’s up to here.

I was in Poland last week with some of the folks from Pig Iron Theatre Company, and they were telling me about this awesome woman coming to Philadelphia with a one-woman comedy about rape, and I was having a hard time imagining what it must be like.

It’s hard to imagine, but believe it or not, it’s really light on its feet and pretty silly in a lot of ways. It’s a bit of a look at standup comedy and rape jokes in standup and also the fabulous ins-and-outs of rape culture.

I adhere to the self-imposed rule: Don’t joke about rape. It rarely goes well. How did you make rape funny and actually convince people that this was a show worth producing?

It kind of started writing itself. Whatever I’ve done in the past has always been comic. Comedy is a thing that lies immediately beyond incredulity. When you are faced with things that are so horrible or ridiculously misunderstood, sometimes, if you have a mind that lends itself to comedy, you find what the joke is — and by joke, I mean the irony, the thing that boggles the mind about it. And it helps that I am a woman and a comic performer with a pretty dark sense of humor.

It’s curious to me that people always assume that there’s nothing to poke fun at. You bring up the word “rape,” and everyone braces themselves. But if you look at the politics and culture surrounding how we talk about rape and legislate about rape, there’s plenty to make fun of.

What does the show look like?

It’s basically an hour of standup comedy. There are some other shenanigans and playful things in it, because I do come from a theatrical and performance-arty background.

Rape has become the edgy go-to thing for people to crack jokes about. Luckily, there are some who crack those jokes intelligently. And then there are others who are just dumb and not funny enough. A lot of male comics are just thinking that they would be so “dangerous” by joking about rape, and it doesn’t work. So I am taking this thing on.

Are there men who do know how to joke about rape?

Louis CK has a really interesting joke about it, and because of his history as a comic, it’s clear there are layers of irony at work. But I’ve also heard that joke in a different environment, and it changes the way it comes off.

Again, generally, it doesn’t work. I know some male comics who makes jokes about rape, and I don’t know if a straight white guy making jokes about rape for an audience of drunk white guys with a rape victim being the punchline… I’m not sure that makes sense.

But I don’t think that comedy should be censored. If you’re a guy that wants to make jokes about rape, I’m not here to tell anyone not to. But I will make some of my own that come from a different place.

You appear to be partially naked in the publicity photo. Is that also the case on stage?

Yep. I do wear a shirt and shoes, because I’m not crazy. [Laughs] I don’t wear anything else. After all, the name of the show is Adrienne Truscott’s Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else. Partly, I think that not wearing pants is actually a preposterous and funny outfit.

I was also trying to hone in on the logic of what people say when they speak to a woman’s dress and behavior as an indication of what she was in for. I’m in a room full of people and I’m drinking and they’re drinking, and I don’t have pants on, and, in theory, that could really be a way of “asking for it.”

But it doesn’t matter how I behave. If I am drinking or I am flirty or I look like a good-time girl, if there isn’t a rapist in the room, I’m not going to get raped. The rapist is the crucial ingredient.

Have you had any terrible audiences or problems performing the show?

I have only had a few people walk out. Generally speaking, I have a really good experience doing the show. I have the most fun the more mainstream the audience is. I don’t like to have the audience self-curate by doing it at a women’s-only theater festival. I have a blast doing it in as close to a comedy club as I can get.

But I do have a 2pm matinee this Sunday. That may be the answer to your question. It may lie in the 2pm Sunday matinee in Philadelphia. I think of my show as more of a late night and couple of drinks kind of show. So we’ll see how that 2pm show goes.

How did it wind up in Philadelphia?

Amy Smith from Headlong in Philadelphia saw my Kickstarter campaign a while back, and she was really excited about it.

It was really gorgeous how people got so excited. She introduced me to Allen [the producing artistic director] at Simpatico [Theatre Project] and said that he’d be a great match. I’ve barely done the show in the states. It’s been the kind of show where one or two people say, I want to see this show in Minneapolis or Philadelphia or York and I am going to make it happen. It’s been wonderful.

Good luck with the show. I’ll see you there.

Thank you!

October 24th to November 16th at the Skybox at the Adrienne Theatre. Tickets here.