Saturday, March 28, 2020

Alana Petridge

Everyone has encountered one in their lives, someone you need to watch your back around. I was still new to comedy when I met mine. Alana Petridge was the real life version of Reese Witherspoon from Election, except she had pitch black hair. However, it was the same manic smile and the same façade that secretly bubbled with evil underneath.
In the unairconditioned basement of an open mic where most dreams go to die, Alana was convinced hers were being made. Sweat dripped all over our bodies as terrible punchlines were being slung from the stage. This was in fact the first layer of hell.
We were soon transported to the second when Alana Petridge marched onto the stage. Her huge smile showing off rows of pearly whites, she stated she was from Oyster Bay, graduated from Boston University, and was working at MTV with dreams of being on SNL. Translated, she was a nauseating cliché and she hadn’t even started her act. Next she began what was her act, a series of jokes that involved drawings on a poster board. Some jokes were okay, others were lame.
As she did her bits, I noticed the first signs of laughter from the catacombs. Looking over I saw a tribe of people dressed in white, WASP refugees from the Hamptons. Then it clicked, Ms. Desperate had brought her entire family. Yes, it was mom, dad, a reluctant brother and sister, and her grandparents. Mom was filming this disaster. I told myself not to be so hard on her. My parents were far away and maybe I was just jealous.
After the show, I decided to introduce myself as she was another woman, and maybe very lost. I walked over to her and the WASP refugees and said, “Hi, I’m April, good stuff.” It was a half-truth, some of it was decent.
“Alana,” she shook my hand in a way that felt like she was snapping it off, “Listen, do you book shows?”
“No…..”
“It was nice meeting you,” she said, big fake smile flashing. This encounter confirmed my instincts, steer clear.
Over the next month, I crossed paths with Alana at least twice a week. She brought her WASP refugee entourage dressed in white, and they always sat through the shitty open mic sitting silent until their princess took the stage. Alana always did the same routine, never varying, which meant she wasn’t writing. Each time she always re-introduced herself hoping I was booking shows, and each time I would curtly remind Alana we had already met. Finally, she got the message, I had nothing for her therefore I was no use to her.
Alana was vocal about wanting to find management and soon found it in the arms of none other than my ex Isaac Rabinowitz. A trust fund kid, Isaac was fulfilling his lifelong dream of opening a comedy club he christened The Universe. His father, a real estate mogul, spent a small fortune on billboards to attract big name talent. Isaac, a self-proclaimed impresario, was dipping his fingers into talent management, his first client being “the beautiful and talented” Alana Petridge.
As I saw the social media post, I marveled at both Isaac’s hubris and the ability to think with his dick. The fact she thought he was going to make her a star and the fact he thought he could were the funniest thing either of them had ever done. In the time I had dated Isaac, he had run a theatre company into the ground, managed to alienate every woman he ever encountered, and every joke writing instinct he had proved to be completely and utterly wrong. Isaac couldn’t even manage himself, oh what a gas.
The Universe opened, and despite the musing of big names the only headliner was Alana Petridge. Each night, she did 30 minutes, 5 which contained the tired bit with the picture board, and 25 written by Isaac. Comedian friends of mine told me tales of the utter horror and bloodshed that occurred onstage. I will say part of me delighted in this trainwreck, because these were two people I disliked immensely.
In the early fall I got my chance. Isaac, eager to make amends for all the crap he pulled when he was busy messing with my head, and as an olive branch offered me a spot on a show at The Universe. Despite our tricky past, Isaac had always cheered me on when it came to reaching the next level with my comedy. Plus again, I wanted to see the trainwreck for myself, so I confirmed the spot.
The night of the show The Universe was packed. Planets painted on the walls with glowing decals of stars lined the room. Sure, Isaac was Isaac but I had to admit I was impressed. The emcee was a skinny Jewish kid named Bobby Greenbaum who warmed the room up and they were ready to go. He sat in the back with my friend Paul Thompson, a cynical divorcee turned comic, and myself.
“They are great,” I said.
“Oh, crowds here are always.” Paul said.
Overhearing us, Bobby interjected, “That is until…..”
The three of us tried to muffle our laughter, “That bad?”
“I would rather spend time with my ex wife than see her do comedy,” Paul said. Wow, that said a lot. Paul’s ex wife had tried to run him down with her car.
“I call her Tel Aviv because it’s the only place where anyone could bomb that bad,” Bobby said, as he then turned to give the comic onstage the light. As Bobby ran to the edge of the stage, I could see Alana on Isaac’s arm like a Dollar Store Christmas Ornament, glaring at us. I flashed her a fuck you smile in return. After all, I wasn’t the whore no one could stomach.
My name was called, and the set was insane. May Wilson went off script and flashed the audience. They were drunk and off the wall, but it was helluva fun. Bobby gave us the light and we were sad to go. He gave me a pat on the back and whispered, “Get ready for Tel Aviv,” and then made an exploding sound.
Reluctantly, Bobby took the stage, “Ladies and gentlemen, your headliner has been on MTV. Please put your hands together for Alana Petridge.”
Paul whispered, “MTV. I didn’t know it became a TV credit when it was just your foot.”
“Then you could use that Subway Commercial,” it was true, Paul’s foot was in a Subway Commercial. It helped get his SAG card.
Alana started her set. It was 5 tragic minutes of the poster board and drawings. Without her band of WASP refugees dressed in white, the jokes got pity laughs. From there, she went into the material Isaac wrote and then was greeted with awkward silence. I didn’t know what was worse, the fact she was tanking or the fact it wasn’t even with her own material, “If you’re going to blow someone, blow someone funny,” Paul said.
As this big wet abortion went on, several audience members began to leave, always a bad sign. Finally, one super drunk dude who I loved during my set yelled, “Hey Baby, show us your tits like that puppet did! That would be funny!”
“I had no idea the puppet tits were funny,” I said to Paul.
“Puppet tits are always funny,” We both tried to muffle our laughter. Upon hearing this, Alana looked at the audience, tears in her eyes, and then burst out crying and ran offstage. Everyone looked at each other, baffled as to what the hell had just happened. Then suddenly we all burst out laughing because we were apparently sick and unsympathetic fucks.
The drunk yelled, “Now that’s funny!”
Barely out the door Alana countered with, “FUCK YOU!” which made us all laugh even harder.
As Darlene the waitress was dropping checks she passed us and said, “Good, that girl’s such a pain in the ass.” Damn, when the waitstaff doesn’t like you that says everything. Stick a fork in her, she’s done.
Walking out at the end of the night, I heard Alana screaming to Isaac, “You promised to write me jokes! Your jokes suck! Just like sex with you!” Damn, Isaac was who he was but this was way harsh.As she continued her assault on Isaac, I passed.
Alana, full of venom screamed, "And fuck you April Brucker! You and your unfunny puppet drained the crowd and ruined my night! If it wasn't for you, I would have had a good set!"
Looking at her, May Wilson in suitcase, I said, "Tomorrow, I hope to be funny, but you Sweetheart, will still be shrill and obnoxious." Then I gave her the bitchy smile matched with the bitchy wave and departed into the night.
As I walked away Alana yelled, “I HATE YOU APRIL BRUCKER! I HOPE YOU DIE!”
The next morning I woke up with a message from Isaac apologizing for Alana and telling me he had severed all ties with her. I told him not to worry, things happen, and I looked forward to performing at The Universe again. Days later, the buzz on social media was that Alana’s big time lawyer father was suing Isaac for both sexual harassment and breach of contract. The suit was ultimately thrown out of court, because Isaac’s brother was a big time lawyer, too. While The Universe Comedy Club would stay open a while longer, Isaac retired from personal management forever which was for the best.
After that, Alana went off her birth control, entrapped a successful writer, and tricked him into marrying her. Everything went bust after that, and the divorce was a shitshow. From there it was radio silence until I decided to look her up on facebook.
Alana is living with her parents back on Long Island. The aging stick didn’t just hit her hard, it beat her to a bloody pulp. She, her family, and her son are all dressed in white, smiling as a group of WASP refugees happy in their hive. In another post she announced after a long break and a lot of therapy she wants to return to comedy. Part of me wanted to encourage this, because I wanted a sequel to the shit show she had given me for free so many years before. Than I thought nah, the world has enough depravity and sadness as it is. 

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