Alice Wetterlund grew up in the Twin Cities, but she never felt like one of us.
In her first television stand-up showcase, debuting Friday on Amazon Prime, she reflects back on a drunken Halloween night when she punched a stranger who ridiculed her for urinating on a New York City sidewalk while dressed as Cookie Monster, an anecdote that’s about as un-Minnesotan as rooting for the Chicago Bears.
“It’s weird that I’m from Minneapolis,” the 38-year-old comic said last week by phone from the home she recently purchased in Los Angeles. “People from there are considered to be polite and good neighbors who keep to themselves. That’s just the opposite of my personality. I love shaking things up.”
Wetterlund flaunts her don’t-mess-with-me persona in the one-hour special, part of Amazon’s new campaign to prove that Netflix, Comedy Central and HBO aren’t the only platforms for emerging stand-up comics.
But her most public act of defiance came last year when she used social media to chastise her former co-stars on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”
Wetterlund, who played the recurring character of coder Carla Walton, accused the show’s breakout star T.J. Miller of being a “bully and petulant brat” and chastised the rest of the cast for enabling him.
“I don’t know if other women on the show had a different experience than me, but it was kind of a nightmare,” she tweeted last year.
Miller, who was kicked off the Emmy-nominated sitcom before Wetterlund’s public allegations, fired back, saying Wetterlund was just trying to get publicity and was the real unprofessional on set. He appears this weekend at the Mall of America’s House of Comedy. “Silicon Valley” returns for its final and abbreviated season on Oct. 27.
“She’s got a strong sense of justice and a lot of self-respect. It shows in both her comedy and how she conducts her life,” said comedian Veronica Osorio, who stars on CBS All Access’ “Strange Angel” and co-hosts the podcast “Treks and the City” with Wetterlund. “She’s led the way in not putting up with stuff. I’m forever in awe of that quality.”
Wetterlund wasn’t always so adept at sticking up for herself.
As the child of divorced parents — her dad, Glenn, ran Wetterlund Guitars in Minneapolis while her mom, Kris, became a major figure in local arts education — she saw herself as a “bully magnet.” She still cringes when she thinks about how her classmates went to town when one of her breasts developed before the other one.
“Some people talk about how that kind of abuse made them stronger. But it didn’t make me a better person. It made me more of a mad, crying little kid,” said Wetterlund, who spent time at several schools, including Minneapolis’ South High. “I don’t think I ever got over it.”
After graduation she moved to New York to pursue a career in graphic design and fashion, but finally found solace on the stand-up scene at age 28.
“Ever since I was young, I had the feeling I was supposed to do something extraordinary, but I never felt I had sunk my teeth into anything that was right,” she said. “From the first time I did stand-up, I could not be stopped.”
As much as Wetterlund loved being on stage, she craved alcohol even more.
She admits to being intoxicated nearly a decade ago when, during a visit to the Twin Cities, she popped by Acme Comedy Co. to participate in an open-mic night. After being admonished by general manager Derick Johnson for going over her allotted time, she verbally attacked him. She was immediately banned from the club.
Wetterlund, who has been sober for more than three years, recently apologized by phone to Johnson. Owner Louis Lee said he’ll consider lifting the ban after watching the Amazon showcase.
“I think sobriety really helped Alice calm down,” said comedian Andy Haynes, who was married to Wetterlund from 2013 to 2015. The two remain friends and Haynes recently had his ex-wife as a guest on his “Be Best” podcast. “She was really angry when we were together, kind of a ticking time bomb. She has just kind of chilled out and figured out how to do what she does best. It seems like the rest came together.”
Wetterlund deals with her addiction head-on in the stand-up special, titled “My Mama Is a Human and So Am I,” as well as slamming Batman for only chasing down the mentally ill and patting herself on the back for becoming less attracted to serial killers.
She’s eager to tackle more dramatic roles, like her guest appearance on CBS All Access’ upcoming series “Interrogation,” starring Peter Sarsgaard.
“I want to do an action movie so bad,” she said.
Her previous credits include MTV’s comedy series “Girl Code” and the 2016 big-screen feature “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” The Los Angeles Times called her performance as butch bisexual cousin Terry one of that film’s few comic high points.
These days you’re more likely to find Wetterlund in the weight room than a bar, preparing for a weightlifting competition.
“I’ve got that mentality that if there’s a room full of guys doing something, I want to go in there and break up the boys club,” she said. “I’m a 5-foot-2 woman and I could lift you over my head.” She paused before adding a very Minnesota punchline: “Yeah, no one is impressed.”
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My Mama Is a Human and So Am I
When: Starts streaming Friday. Where: Amazon Prime.