Focus on: Adrienne Truscott

"I still play around with costume – or lack of costume"

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Published 04 Aug 2015

It's not clear at first what Adrienne Truscott means when she suggests that the audience didn't really get a true sense of her from Asking for It, her first Fringe show. She took to the stage naked from the waist down and projected images of comedians' faces onto her vagina. What's left to reveal?

Asking for It—which Truscott took to the Fringe in 2013 and has toured widely since—was a broadside against sexism in general and dull, offensive rape jokes in particular. Critics praised it to the rafters, but by the time they had commented on Truscott's unusually comprehensive stage presence and commended her for taking aim at such a righteous target, they didn't have much space to talk about the jokes. 

"So much of the writing about Asking for It referred to me as a feminist performance artist," Truscott tells me. It's Independence Day weekend and she's speaking from upstate New York, having just got off her tractor-mower.  

"I was like, 'But I thought I'd become a standup comedian?' What about if I'd had my pants on, would I still have been called a feminist performance artist?" 

It's actually a reasonable enough handle for an artist who has pursued an odd selection of endeavours. Truscott describes her route to comedy as "this incredible series of accidents that came out of thinking I was going to be a dancer". She is a Fringe regular as half of the Wau Wau Sisters, a burlesque act that combines trapeze work with admittedly substandard guitar playing.

Her new show, One-Trick Pony, will also combine the raunchy and the avant-garde, but it will be a bit closer to conventional standup. 

"It's still got a lot of goofy stuff that I draw from my performance-art background. I still play around with costume—or lack of costume—and it's still got things about sex and gender and bodies, but this time I feel like I'm not playing a character, I'm being Adrienne."

Truscott says she loved comedy long before she became a dancer/trapeze artist/burlesque oddity. She recalls how her driving examiner asked her to switch off a comedy tape during her test because the filthy material was making him uncomfortable (it was Eddie Murphy's Delirious; Truscott passed). 

Which is all just another way of saying that Adrienne Truscott's new show is less confrontational than her last one, but still exciting and peculiar, and one to avoid if you are dead against seeing naked bits. 

"It's just jokes that I've come up with without any particular agenda. Just stuff that makes me laugh. If you liked Asking for It, come back. And if you didn't, come back. I have a few more tricks up my skirt." 

Speaking of which, what will she be wearing this time? "All I can say is that I bought a beautiful, stunning, dignified dress, specially for this. But it doesn't necessarily make it onto my body."