Alice Wetterlund is a super funny lady. She’s a talented LA stand up comedian who came to us by way of Minneapolis and New York. If you were just thinking, “I want to see this person on TV!” Don’t think! You can currently see her on MTV’s cool show “Girl Code.” In this interview we talked about Christopher Guest, how cute she is and cats! Right off the bat, cats! Enjoy getting to know Alice a little more in this one guys, she’s great!
Serial Optimist: Hiya Alice! Thanks for talking with us! First things first, why do you like cats so much? What draws you to them? Is it the paws? It must be the paws.
Alice Wetterlund: I’m so glad you asked about this. First of all, cats are tiny tigers. Isn’t that great? Dogs descended from wolves and were bred to do all sorts of jobs, and so there’s all different types of dogs. But cats descended from tigers and were bred to be adorable and so they are just smaller, multicolored tigers. Fascinating! I think that’s why people don’t like cats, because they are just small tigers that aren’t really interested in pleasing humans. But I think that’s great. Also, their paws and their ears and stuff. By they way, I have researched like none of this! Animals are really important to me in general though.
SO: Animals are the best! Now, let’s get into it, was growing up in Minneapolis a fun time for you? Would you ever go back one day to live there again?
Alice: I love Minneapolis! It’s a great place to raise kids. Very open minded. I remember I was in high school in the 90’s, WAY before “Glee,” and there was just an all-lesbian rugby team that no one was upset about. Great arts scene, too.
I go back to Minnesota at least once a year for the Minnesota State Fair, which is the second biggest state fair in the US after the one in Texas. So, that’s enough being in Minneapolis for me, for the time being. Also, I think my family understands that I can’t live there if they continue to call me and ask for money, even “facetiously.”
SO: When did it hit you that comedy was your career path? Were your parents a couple of inspirations for your comedy? Are they your biggest fans now?
Alice: I started doing improv at UCB in 2008, and then I started stand up right after. Before that I went to art school and then I just pretended to be an artist for five years after college. When I began performing comedy, it was so obvious to me that it was what I was meant to do that I was mad at myself for not getting into it earlier, but then I convinced myself that I wouldn’t have been ready at any other time, which may be true.
My dad forced me to watch “SCTV” growing up, so Eugene Levy was a huge part of my childhood. We also watched “The Simpsons” and “Roseanne” and “The Larry Sanders Show” as a family, so I feel like I had a really great comedy education. My stepdad and his brother are both really funny and it was my uncle that first introduced me to Neil Hamburger and Bill Hicks, which is how I started listening to stand up. All of us basically try to make my mom laugh all the time which isn’t easy, because she doesn’t even like “The Simpsons.” She does like “South Park” though. She is an enigma.
SO: We’d like to interview your mom please! You mentioned performing at UCB, but what was the first venue you performed at when you moved to New York? What was that experience like?
Alice: I moved to New York in 1999, so I guess the first venue I performed at was the Wollman Auditorium at Cooper Union, my college. I was in a sketch group there where I did a Judy Garland impression that my dad WILL NOT stop harping on about. I didn’t really start doing comedy until like 10 years later, and I performed at The Creek in The Cave, which is now a hotspot for indie stand up in NYC. It’s dumb because I was in the city for Rififi and Luna Lounge where Sarah Silverman and like everyone who’s great now was cutting their chops but I was going to see films and bands at those venues instead of comedy.
SO: We are big fans of Eliot Glazer and loved his web series “It Gets Betterish” (which you were in) from Eliot and Brent. How much do you credit social media and a platform like YouTube to opening doors for actors and comedians?
Alice: I can’t stand any medium that isn’t immediate, and so I never really got into producing web content. I have written tons of sketch and wanted to do so many things, but I just can’t bring myself to organize a sketch shoot, and so I really tip my hat to those people who are doing that. I’ve heard talk about how the Lonely Island guys were somewhat well connected and had the financial resources to make great web sketches, but there are tons of funny rich people who didn’t motivate themselves to do that stuff. There were viral videos before YouTube, so I have to think that the people who are getting jobs because of twitter or YouTube would still have found a way to get those jobs.
Alice Wetterlund at College Humor Live at UCB
SO: Absolutely agree. Speaking of talented, I was once at a stand up show where your husband, Andy Haynes, told a story about you getting in a couple of car accidents. I thought you sounded adorable after the stories he told about you. My question is, do you think one of the perks of marriage is getting a lot of material out of it? Or is it probably spending the rest of your life with the person you’re in love with?!?!
Alice: It would make Andy so mad if he found out that his stories just make me seem cuter to the world. Don’t tell him! You can’t really get that much material out of being married to a comedian, because all the funny situations that happen to you are communal material that you then fight over, and Andy always wins because he is bigger and stronger.
SO: There you go sounding cuter again! Has moving to Los Angeles given you more opportunities with your career? The NYC comedy scene is great, but LA just has so many awesome comedy shows on the regular. What are some of your favorite places to perform at?
Alice: It’s weird, but I got my first real comedy job after I moved to LA, but it’s a NYC job (I’m talking about “Girl Code”). So, in my case, the opportunities in NY have been better. But LA is certainly where the majority of opportunity is for comedians. I miss the NY scene, it was so dense and diverse. You would see so many great acts that you never heard of before, and then might never hear from again. In that way it felt more experimental, because when I came up we were all trying to impress each other, not the industry. I know some people will disagree. But there was this really fun, good-natured hazing vibe surrounding stand up in NY, and I actually think that encourages creativity and better writing. I am obviously biased.
SO: How did being one of the comics on MTV’s “Girl Code” come about?
Alice: MTV knew of me from seeing me in New York and they asked me to put together an audition tape. I love “Girl Code,” all the behind-the-scenes people are so smart and funny, not to mention the cast, and I just love being a part of it.
SO: What is your dream job? Something you literally have sweet dreams about? And BTdubs, what was your most recent dream about?
Alice: I want Christopher Guest to make a mockumentary about real-life superheroes and put me in it. I can’t remember anything I dreamt lately that would be as interesting as that sounds. I will also settle for anything else Christopher Guest decided to do.
SO: My dream is now for that to happen! To change the tone here, when do you think “women comedy” will be in the category of “comedy?” Do you think people care that there’s a separation? How do you feel about these recent rape joke comments? Is bringing attention to it, like what I’m doing, helpful or hurtful in your opinion?
Alice: I think the “female comedian” label is giving way ever so slowly to “comedian,” but there’s a lot to overcome. When you start out in stand up, it’s a lot of unfunny guys talking about really rape-y stuff onstage, and you have to sit through it and grin, basically, so you can do your 4 minutes. The weird thing is, there are so many unfunny guys trying to do comedy, but every time a dude gets onstage he gets the benefit of the doubt. A woman gets onstage and there is a good portion of the audience that’s expecting period jokes or judging her appearance or thinking of the one time they saw an unfunny female stand up. It’s not something that one person can change, it’s a paradigm shift that’s simply going to take a long time.
I think the rape joke discussion is overly complicated by people who want to jump into the fray to show how edgy they are or how super-progressive they are. We need to stop talking about whether or not one rape joke is funny or justified and look at the fact that we still live in a rape culture that is very pervasive, especially on the internet (check out this article on #FBrape for example). I’m a feminist and a comedian and so far those two aspects of my identity have never been mutually exclusive, and I tell jokes with the word rape in them. Comedians, by and large, have demonstrated their sensitivity and apologized when necessary. I think so-called activists need to stop recording in comedy clubs and taking quotes out of context. Also, if you can’t go to a comedy show without getting offended or yelling at the comedian, you should stop going to comedy shows. It’s like blaming the rollercoaster for making you puke.
SO: Ok, let’s end with this, what is the secret to keeping a secret?
Alice: Forget you know it.
SO: Thanks so much Alice!
SO Note: Aww, what a cool person right? Follow her @alicewetterlund. You can also check her to see where she’ll be performing and don’t forget to watch her on the “Girl Code” panel on MTV Tuesdays at 9:30 and 10:30 pm.