Heather McDonald [Interview]
April 17, 2017 Leave a comment
We are huge fans of stand up comedy here at Trainwreck’d Society. And specifically, we are huge fans of women in this world. The stereotypical “Boy’s Club” mentality is slowly breaking down in the world of stand up, and it is because of talented individuals like Heather McDonald. Much like some of the other female comedians we have had on the site, she is not funny because she is a woman, she is funny because she is FUNNY. And that is what is the most important aspect in our opinion. If you’re hilarious, you can make it if you try. The barriers put up around women in stand up are weakening, and we are so happy to watch them crumble.
So while we are celebrating Women of the Present this month, we just had to feature a female comedian to represent this world, and I believe we found the PERFECT woman to represent the world of stand up comedy in this showcase. McDonald is obsessively touring, host of a brilliant podcast, a great mom, and one of the main driving forces behind the success of the comedy talk show Chelsea Lately. She’s dynamite at her job, and we are so happy to have gotten some words from this crazy talented individual. So please enjoy a few words with the brilliant Heather McDonald!
What drew you to the world of stand up comedy? Do you have the traditional fucked up childhood that just made you naturally funny? Or was it something simpler?
I knew early on that I had a unique talent to make people laugh and was good with impersonations and imitations, but it wasn’t until a year after college graduation that I went to a class. The class taught me how to make my funny stories relatable to people who didn’t know me and that’s when I really decided to purse stand up.
I don’t think I have the traditional family story in the sense that from a very, very young age we would watch An Evening at the Improv and my Dad told me that I would be up there one day. Most stand-ups can say their parents weren’t encouraging but mine were very, very much so. They came to all my shows and brought their friends.
BUT I do ALSO have a fucked up family being that I come from a big Irish-Catholic family. I’m the youngest of five and I’m estranged from a couple of them… I get in depth about my family on my podcast Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald on episodes 35-45.
What were some of your earliest influences? Where you a fan of comedy growing up?
Yes I was absolutely a fan growing up. I loved watching I Love Lucy reruns but I also liked more adult themed sitcoms like One Day at A Time and Alice. They were mature, depressing sitcoms for a kid but I loved them. I would stay up late to watch Joan Rivers anytime she was hosting the tonight show. I would pretend I had homework and would sneak upstairs. I also loved Roseanne.
While I know, as a fan only, stand up comedy has always had a “Boy’s Club” feel, I can’t help but feel like women are simply KILLING it lately. And you are definitely at the top of your field alongside other brilliant females like Jen Kirkman or Emma Arnold. So, basically, what are your thoughts on females in comedy? Are we ever going to be able to drop the “female comedian” label? Is the comedy world progressing?
Yes, I think the comedy world is progressing and now is the best time to be a female comic. I think we have younger men to thank for that because they aren’t seeing it like, “oh she’s female so she’s a chick comic.” Men, like women, are going to comedy shows based on whether or not they find the comedian funny; not because of their gender, color or sexuality.
People are attracted to comics they relate to. So yeah, women are going to relate to me more than they would Louis CK. I don’t think there is anything wrong with marketing yourself as a “female comedian” when that’s who you are to the people who really like your comedy.
Do you have any good heckler stories you would be willing to share with us? How do you handle them?
I have been very lucky in this respect. Where I am now, it’s never like, “you suck” because the people who pay to come to my show like my comedy. The only ones I have to deal with are what I like to call,
“The overly supportive.” It’s usually a group of women who are so excited to be at the show that they get really drunk and turn into black women in church. Every time I say something it’s “go girl”, “Tell em sistah” or “Preach” … and I’m glad they are enjoying the show but it’s disruptive to my story and it annoys the audience. I don’t want to single them out but the club staff doesn’t always catch it. Usually I’ll just say, “hey thanks for the feedback…” and they get embarrassed and leave.
Between your stand up, books, show writing, hosting, podcasting, acting, etc. you just never seem to stop! Which is great for everyone! But, if you were only allotted the ability to do only one, what would it be?
Aside from being a great mother (wink), I’d focus on my podcast Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald because I love doing it. I love how loyal my fans and listeners are. I like that I can connect with them without having to get on a plane and I can do it no matter how ugly I look or what I’m wearing. With the podcast, I get to make the decisions and create the content. With acting, the show has to be written, I have to be cast, I have to wait for a production schedule; with the podcast all of that is on me- it’s something I make happen. When I need to wait for other people to say yes, it makes it a more difficult endeavor. Third would be stand-up.
When you’re not working so diligently, what do you do for fun? How do you take advantage of your time with family when you’re off the road?
We love taking our two sons to the beach. We also like to mini golf, play scrabble and go to six flags Magic Mountain. I love hurricane harbor and all water parks. I’m that mom who goes on it all with their kids. They appreciate it. I also enjoy getting drinks and dinner with just my husband or with other couples. And of course I love a good girls night out.
Speaking of the road, what are some things you like to do to kill the time when you aren’t on stage?
I’ll often see a movie, go to a spa and get a massage. If it’s a cute city I’ll go shopping. I love to shop. I mostly only go to cute cities now because of the shopping. If there is something the town in known for, like a restaurant or museum or tour, I try to experience that. When I was in Buffalo NY I drove to Niagara Falls by myself. And other times I sleep until 12:30 in the afternoon.
So, what does the future hold for you? Anything you’d like to plug? Any shows coming up?
Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald podcast is always available on ITunes with new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.
My stand up and Juicy Scoop Live touring schedule can be found at www.heathermcdonald.net.
Check often as new dates pop up all the time. Were currently developing and entertaining ways to make Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald or some version of it, into a TV show so even more people can enjoy what I do.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
This morning my son put on my sunglasses and imitated me.
Heather is certain to be coming to a city near you. Check out these dates for the rest of April and May:
April 22nd – Nashville, Tennessee @ Zanie’s Comedy Club
May 3rd – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Bitmore Cabaret
May 4th – Seattle, Washington @ The Triple Door
May 5th – 6th – Portland, Oregon @ Helium Comedy Club
May 12th – Atlanta, Georgia @ City Winery
May 18th – 20th – Grand Rapids, Michigan @ Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club
Check out heathermcdonald.net for all updates and tickets!