Heather McDonald returning to headline Wheeler Opera House
IF YOU GO …
Who: Heather McDonald
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Sunday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $45
Comedian Heather McDonald has mastered the art of mining her life for laughs, chronicling the absurdities and embarrassments of marriage, motherhood and dating in her stand-up act.
Her family’s home has been spared in the fires plaguing Southern California, but even that looming disaster had McDonald laughing at herself. Along with the requisite panic and sympathy for those hit by the wildfires, McDonald said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles,
“You really start thinking about what you’re going to take — I was like, ‘I don’t even care about my wedding album, I’m going to take my Stuart Weitzman boots!’ … I was literally laying in bed thinking about how quickly I could throw my cutest clothing items in a bag.”
McDonald, who first hopped onto the national comedy scene on the popular E! show “Chelsea Lately” and currently hosts the podcast “Juicy Scoop,” will headline the Wheeler Opera House on Sunday night.
She previously sold out the theater for her headlining show at the Aspen Laugh Festival in 2016, which marked her first visit to town. The sartorial excesses of Aspen and its pretty people left an impression on McDonald.
“I felt like a fat, unstylish frump-a-dump,” she said with a laugh. “And I’m pretty cute, pretty put together. The outfits and the fur — it’s amazing watching it all. It’s quite the scene. I loved every second of it. It’s ridiculous.”
Since her last show here, the “Juicy Scoop” podcast has taken off. It’s begun drawing upwards of a million downloads a month. McDonald is considering expanding the show to television or a streaming platform. “Juicy Scoop” dishes out a mix of guilty pleasures, from the comic’s acerbic recaps of reality shows like “90 Day Fiancé” to celebrity gossip.
“What I love about doing the podcast is that it’s like doing two hours of brand new material every week,” she said. “So there are bits where I say something and it gets a huge response and I make a note to build on that for my act.”
The show has drawn audiences to her stand-up sets, but her stand-up material remains mostly separate from her “Juicy Scoop” topics other than some pop culture cross over.
As the standard outlandish celebrity gossip has been overtaken in recent months by monstrous stories about Harvey Weinstein and others in show business, McDonald has stayed on the beat on “Juicy Scoop” — never shying away from any of it. On a wild recent “Juicy Scoop” episode with gossip columnist A.J. Benza, McDonald delved into rumors about murder and predation among the Hollywood elite. She’s relishing seeing men like Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Louis C.K. get their comeuppance.
“I love every single second of it — I love exposing the hypocrites, I love that these guys are finally getting what’s due to them,” she said. “I don’t feel bad for them.”
Not much of that has made it into her stand-up act, but McDonald, of course, has found some gems to laugh at: the victimization of the plant that Weinstein allegedly masturbated into in a New York restaurant, for instance.
“What about the poor plant?” she said. “They plant didn’t want a part in a movie or anything. It was just sitting in the corner being a potted plant.”
Unlike many comics in 2017, McDonald isn’t interested in talking about Donald Trump in her act (she’s also banned any political conversation from her social media and “Juicy Scoop” discussion platforms).
“People are too emotional about it,” she said. “This is an escape. This is fun and talking about relationships and marriage and kids and all that, along with some pop culture stuff.”
A frequent and favorite moment after a stand-up show, McDonald said, is when audience members tell her they saw themselves in the true tales of family life.
“The biggest response I get is, ‘I think we’re married to the same man,’” she said. “They’re like ‘Oh, I guess my marriage isn’t that bad.’”
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Aspen Words’ literary conference and festival is back in-person after a pandemic hiatus and a move from June to autumn.