Author, actress and comedian Heather McDonald brings stand-up show to Beaver Creek
If you go …
What: Comedian Heather McDonald.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.
More information: Tickets are on sale now at the VPAC Box Office, by calling 970-845-8497 or visiting http://www.vilarpac.org.
BEAVER CREEK — Heather McDonald doesn’t typically talk politics in her stand-up routines, but the state of the current presidential election has created such an easy target that it’s hard not to sucker punch it when you have the opportunity.
“It’s fun to watch Hillary squirm a little, even though she’s saying she’s not squirming. She’s saying, ‘I love it,’ but you know you’re freaking out about Bernie Sanders,” McDonald said. “And of course Trump is just ridiculous. … How often are you going to call some Middle Eastern leader a loser and we start a war because you said somebody’s wife is ugly?”
McDonald will bring her take on the presidential circus, celebrity gossip and personal anecdotes about family life to the stage at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek today.
McDonald grew up in Los Angeles, the youngest of five in an Irish-Catholic family. Following college, she consciously avoided pursuing any kind of career in the entertainment business because she had seen firsthand how difficult a road it could be.
“I said I was going to be a business woman, but I had my first real job and it was so miserable,” she said. “Then a friend gave me a flier to take a one-night class in how to be a stand-up comedian.”
Up until that point, McDonald had only casually performed for audiences of friends and family, where funny, personalized stories easily hit their mark. She had doubts that those stories could be translated to a broader audience.
“I would do it in my sorority, reenactments of the night before for everyone in the house,” she said. “I took the night class and I realized, ‘Oh, I can make strangers laugh if I set my stories up properly — I can make people laugh.’”
McDonald joined The Groundlings, a prestigious sketch comedy and improvisation group in L.A., where she was surrounded by really funny people — which is what you want as a comedian, she said. From there, her comedy career took a varied path, from TV personality to writer for both the big and small screens.
She wrote for and made roundtable appearances on the E! series “Chelsea Lately” and the mockumentary “After Lately” and most recently served a stint as host of TLC’s critically acclaimed “All About Sex.” She’s also been a regular collaborator with the Wayans brothers, serving as a writer on their features “White Chicks” and “Dance Flick,” and recently debuted her first Showtime special, “I Don’t Mean to Brag.”
As an author, McDonald’s two books, “You’ll Never Blue Ball in this Town Again,” released in 2010, and “My Inappropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable for Small Children, Nuns or Mature Adults,” which came out in 2013, have both been best-sellers. Through all of that, the comedian has maintained a steady presence on the stand-up circuit, heading out on the road about two weekends a month to ply her trade.
“It’s really great that I can do all these different things,” she said. “This business is very volatile; I love that stand-up has been the constant. If I’m not working on a TV show, I can go do my stand-up. I’m really coming into my own with it and getting to have a name for myself, which has been great.”
Part of the act
No matter the project, McDonald said the material is all based on her life and what’s currently going on in her world and the world at large, whether it’s something weird she sees on TV or something that’s happening socioeconomically. Being entrenched in the Hollywood scene has given her unlimited comedic fodder, but she’s recently moved from lampooning celebrities to focusing more on personal situations.
“I talk a lot about my husband and kids and my friends — they all just accept that they have to be in the act,” she said. “If you want to be in my life, I’m going to talk about you most likely.”
She jokes about her husband being cheap, but admits it’s reassuring to know that a man who insists on sharing a free-refills drink at a fast-food restaurant will likely never go out and spend a grand on a hooker. She’s also a strong believer in the idea that tragedy plus time equals comedy, especially when it comes to relationships.
“I have friends who are divorced or falling in love after a divorce. Because I’ve been married so long, that’s what interests me,” she said. “I love talking about relationships, exploring it — trying to find the positive out of something bad is a going theme for me, the positive side of things.
“The worst fight or something that’s so awful as it’s happening, within a few days, or sometimes a little longer, pretty quickly I can find the humor in it.”
Now that McDonald’s kids are a little older, they are starting to understand that they are part of the act and have grown to accept it — but that hasn’t always been the case with all of the characters that have come and gone in her life.
“In one of my books, I changed the names but it was really obvious who I was talking about. I was no longer friends with this person so I didn’t think it would be a big deal,” she said. “They were really hurt by it, and I felt badly.
“The story was so pertinent to my life that I had to tell it, and sometimes that’s a problem. My friends now know that I’m probably going to use them. My two best friends are girls I’ve known since first grade — they’re in it, they don’t care, it’s fine.”
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