Nude awakening: Meet Adrienne Truscott, the stand-up who performs naked from waist down

But her exposed genitals are the least outrageous element in her routine

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The Independent Culture

It is safe to say that Adrienne Truscott is a stand-up like no other. For a start, she performs her comedy naked from the waist down. She wears a denim jacket and clonky heels, a wig, sunglasses and a smear of body glitter. And that's it.

When I first saw her, it was late on a Sunday night in a tiny bookshop behind Edinburgh's Royal Mile. As she walked out, bush bared, the 30-strong crowd squashed themselves into the shop window and walls as if a tiger had been let loose. Truscott didn't blink. "I'm comfortable", she said, swigging from a can of gin and tonic, "Even if none of you are."

To be fair, the show's title had given fair warning. Adrienne Truscott's Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else sounds like the sort of thing you might studiously avoid in the cabaret listings of Time Out but it turned out to be a show so daring, unique and entertaining that I and my fellow judges on the Edinburgh Comedy Awards ended up giving it the Panel Prize at this year's Fringe.

Truscott will reprise the show on Sunday – in a double bill with fellow award-winner Bridget Christie – as part of Calm Down, Dear: a festival of feminism at Camden People's Theatre in London. A run at Soho Theatre will follow next year.

And Truscott won't be wearing trousers for any of it. In fact, her exposed genitals are probably the least shocking thing about the show. She also does a surprising, top-half striptease. She has footage of male performers, including George Carlin and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, projected onto her torso, so that her pubic hair provides them with comical 3D beards. And she engages in the audience banter of nightmares: "Y'all ready for a night of comedy? Anyone here been raped?"

There is a point to this provocation. Truscott's entire 50-minute show is a witty, occasionally dazzling take-down of the rape joke, which continues to be a set staple for certain macho comedians, from Jimmy Carr to Louis CK. As she points out, "It's been a big year for rape in comedy", what with the American stand-up Daniel Tosh tackling a female heckler with the words "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by five guys, right now?"

If it all sounds rather right-on, it isn't. Truscott, one half of the New York cabaret duo The Wau Wau Sisters, is a canny performer, disguising a steely agenda beneath a charming layer of fluff and, yes, jokes. As for the nudity - like the 12 GnTs she knocks back, the giant heels and the outrageous flirting, it is no indicator that she is "asking for it". Rather it is the not-at-all gratuitous crux of a bold and beautiful show. Go, at the very least, you won't see another Travis Bickle impression quite like it.

Jack Black's comedy festival would be a hit on UK shores

Adam Sandler sang a song about Phil Spector, Eric Idle duetted with Billy Idol on "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and Zach Galifianakis made the crowd wait two hours for a 10-minute set during which he claimed to be Banksy.

This was the first ever Festival Supreme, a day of musical comedy on Santa Monica pier last weekend, curated by Jack Black and headlined by his self-consciously awesome rock band Tenacious D. Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts, The Mighty Boosh and Maya Rudolph's all-female Prince tribute band, Princess, were also on the bill and Conan O'Brien and Andy Samberg's hip-hop spoofers The Lonely Island turned up as surprise guests.

It sounds excellent – a sort of Saturday Night Live, live. Only one major musical comic was missing – Tim Minchin. He missed his slot thanks to his American work visa not arriving in time. Perhaps he should think about setting up a UK version this summer instead. We may not have the superstar factory that is Saturday Night Live but with honorary Brit Minchin, Bill Bailey and the newly relaunched David Brent, Britain's got more than enough talent to fill a few tents.

What I watched this week


At Soho Theatre, London. A timely, tender, tear-jerker of a show about finding role models for young girls, starring Kimmings and her charming 9-year-old niece, Taylor.


Matt Berry's bonkers new Channel 4 sitcom about a jobbing actor, featuring the excellently unsettling Emma Fryer as Susan Random. Listen out for the best character names on TV – on Sunday, Clem Fandango and Acker Herron join the fray.


Singing the first page of Morrissey's autobiography in the rocker's trademark whine. Simple, yes, but hypnotically funny.