Comedian Heather McMahan is helping us through the pandemic — by making herself the butt of the jokeFebruary 9, 2021
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Heather McMahan is doing the most.
The 33-year-old Georgia-bred comedian has amassed more than 630,000 followers on social media, where she’s known for impersonating Ina Garten, belting out Reba Mcentire lyrics while eating cake, or giving her best Victoria Beckham leg pose on a beach. These days, her home office looks more like her couch — and her lunch usually comes with a glass of chardonnay — but she’s just rolling with the punches like the rest of us.
Her namesake national comedy show “Heather McMahan: The Farewell Tour,” was postponed due to COVID. So was her wedding. But that hasn’t stopped her from entertaining, and in her true comedy style, calling out anyone who can’t keep it real. The host of the “Absolutely Not” podcast is saying exactly that more than once these days.
“Absolutely not to anybody pretending like they have it together. Like we’re all just trying. We didn’t think we’d be in this [pandemic for] this long. We’re all having to pivot or readjust,” McMahan says from a Zoom call.
“When you run into a friend that has it all together, everything’s great, they’re not stressing out, they don’t have anxiety — like, absolutely not to that. Let’s be honest and transparent about our day-to-day, how we’re all just trying to get by,” she quips.
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Her unfiltered candor is what keeps fans invested. She’s chronicled her experience as a COVID bride, when she brought Instagram followers along for her wedding day at a downtown Atlanta courthouse clad in a sequinned leopard print dress and gold hoops after having to reschedule it “for the 10th time.” She’s let her hair down with a provocative dance to Lil’ Jon’s “Get Out of Your Mind” in quarantine, and more recently fangirled over Garth Brooks on Inauguration Day with a video impersonation of what she captioned “every mom in Nashville.”
The 33-year-old Georgia-bred comedian has amassed more than 630,000 followers on social media, where she’s known for impersonating Ina Garten, belting out Reba Mcentire lyrics while eating cake, or giving her best Victoria Beckham leg pose on a beach.
Now, to fulfill her goal of trying to become what she jokingly calls a “domestic goddess,” she’s fronting a virtual cooking class with Whole Foods. Expect steak crostini and her favorite gals — mom Robin, and sister Ashley — in the kitchen for a Galentine’s Day virtual event on Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET.
“I am literally the worst chef in America. Over the last year, I have literally tried to teach myself how to cook, but I cannot tell you how many things I have burned. So I’m just getting really creative and trying to teach myself how to cook. Yeah, I have a vice, the wine. But I definitely try to teach myself to be a little bit of a domestic goddess. I was like, ‘I am going to make a meatloaf if it’s the last thing I do.'” You know, cause I just get hungry — a girl needs to feed herself,” she says of the motivation for the Whole Foods event, which will contribute its proceeds to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a nonprofit organization advocating for restaurants affected by pandemic shutdowns.
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McMahan is also dishing out advice for finding love during the pandemic (which, she says, requires a full look, now that we all need to flirt at grocery stories, from a safe distance, with masks covering most of our faces) and trying to bring hope to anyone getting married during these uncertain times.
“We had to schedule and reschedule. We got engaged and then we haven’t had an engagement party or anything to celebrate and so it’s been really… I’ll be totally transparent and honest, it’s been such a letdown for such an exciting time in your life,” she admits.
“That’s the biggest thing people ask me: ‘When are you having your wedding?’ You’ve got to be flexible. ‘When I can really let my hair down and enjoy myself.’ This may be a big build-up – like three years down the road shooting grandma out of a cannon. I also think you have to roll with the punches, because what else can we do? And if you want to celebrate, just make it about you and your partner because that’s the biggest thing. I finally looked at my now-husband and I was like, ‘I’m ready to just tie it up.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go to the courthouse.’ My guests will probably get an email like the week before – I’m not going to do any planning. It’s actually been kind of nice because I kind of get to throw my hands up and not be a bridezilla because I can’t control anything. You show up, you show up,” she says.
The same holds true for building her comedy career. McMahan has managed to continue virtual appearances and partnerships while making people giggle remotely, although she admits missing the live energy of an audience.
“In the words of Ross from ‘Friends,’ just pivot, that’s all you can do, you know? I feel like I’m perpetually stuck in those leather pants that he had on — that’s what the last year has been. We’re all stuck in leather pants that are too tight and we have to pivot. What are you going to do?”
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McMahan, who has previously guest-hosted the “Today” show’s “Hoda & Jenna,” says her business model hasn’t changed much since she built her following on social media. And when it comes to oversharing, she says there really isn’t a limit.
“I’m always the butt of my joke. To me, I just really find humor in my own faults. I’ll make fun of myself first – I do find it refreshing but I think [we all have this mentality of] ‘we’re all in this together,'” she says.
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McMahan is currently working on a comedy for NBC’s Peacock called “Good Grief,” which follows three women navigating life after loss when the patriarch of their family passes. It’s inspired by her own personal experience with grief. She lost her father to cancer in 2015 and moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta to live with her mother.
“I lost my dad to cancer five years ago. And the last few years, I’ve been touring and I tell stories about the darkest time in my life after losing my father, and how really the funniest things come out of such dark times,” she says.
“And so I think with what’s going on in the world and going through collective trauma — our lives have been put on pause. There are so many things that are happening. There are so many balls in the air. We’re just trying to wrap our heads around it. If I can be a source of levity and joy and people can come in and tune into my craziness and turn their brain off for a little, then that’s what I’m supposed to do. My job, really, at the end of the day, is to bring people joy and to bring people together. And if it’s at my own expense, that’s fine. That’s all we can do.”
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