If laughter really is the best medicine, then we could all use a double dose right about now. In these uncertain times, we’re all in need of a little comic relief and who better to keep us in stitches then side-splitting comedian Heather McMahan.
If you haven’t heard of Heather then you are in for a real treat. The social media star—she has more than 550,000 obsessed Instagram followers at @heatherkmcmahan—has had a banner year, with a sold-out comedy tour, regular Today show appearances, and the launch of her hugely popular podcast, Absolutely Not.
The self-described “high-functioning hot mess express” who likes to “chard so hard,” is the girlfriend you want to hang out with over a bottle (or more) of wine, as she shares her unfiltered thoughts on the trials and tribulations of daily life. On Instagram, recent posts revealed moments like splitting her pants in an Uber, a spray tan fiasco, and being mistaken for being pregnant by a toll booth attendant. These crazy life experiences are the perfect material for her on-point and all-too-relatable comedy.
McMahan began her career in Los Angeles, where she struggled to break into the entertainment industry. Following her father’s death in 2015, which she calls a really “dark period” in her life, she moved back home to Atlanta. There, she worried that her comedy career might be over. But like so many things in life, after the dark came the light and by taking her signature self-deprecating humor to Instagram her career has exploded.
“I started being completely transparent about my father’s death, moving back home with my mom and going through the grieving process,” she explains. “I tried to take a shitty situation and turn it into comedy gold because I know that’s what my father would have wanted.”
With an Instagram bio that reads, in part, “comedian with a thick neck & thin ankles,” McMahan is all about “living her truth” and finding joy and laughter in life’s craziest moments. Our advice? Pour a large glass of wine and get ready to join her party because Mrs. Maisel has nothing on the even more marvelous Ms. McMahan.
ON LAUGHING AT HERSELF
I’m always the butt of my own jokes because I think we have to friggin’ laugh at ourselves. Life is hard enough as it is. Everybody, especially this year, is going through some sort of grief. Grieving loved ones, the lives they once knew, or the loss of a job. We have to find the joy and levity in these horrific situations because some- times that’s all you’ve got to get you through!
ON FOCUSING ON ATTITUDE
My mantra has always been that you can’t control what happens to you, you can only control your attitude. I have been overwhelmingly humbled in the last few years. There was a really tough period after my dad passed and I felt like I was giving up my comedy dreams by moving back to Atlanta. I felt like my career was six steps back from my peers in LA for a while, but ultimately everything came together. I had to trust in the process, take care of myself, take care of my family, and then I felt like the universe rewarded me.
ON SURVIVING QUARANTINE
It’s like being on the Scream Machine roller coaster at Six Flags and we don’t know when we’re getting off. It’s like we’re stuck there with yearly passes and we can’t get out of the amusement park. There’s also a lot of white wine and tequila involved in our quarantine. In the beginning we were making all kinds of fancy cocktails but lately it’s been enough to just pour the tequila straight. I’m like, “Let’s just cut to the chase. I’m stressed out and it’s 5 o’clock.”
ON HER MOTHER, AKA “DIVA RED”
Every few years I try to leave my mother but she ends up dragging me back. I am 33 years old, engaged and recently moved back in with my mom. People ask, “Are you going to take all of your bridesmaids to look at wedding dresses?” and I say, “No, the only person I’m taking is my mother because if she tells me I look good in the dress then I look f*%*ing great.” She truly is my best friend and my “ride or die.” She once said to me, “You’ve got broad shoulders, a gorgeous face and you’re funnier than shit. If they don’t cast you, they’re a friggin’ DING DONG!”
ON JOAN RIVERS
I met the iconic Joan Rivers once in LA. She was, and is, an icon and totally paved the way for women in comedy. She never took no for an answer and didn’t put up with any bullshit. I went up to her and told her she was the reason I was pursuing comedy. Later she came up to me and said, “You’ve got a lot of balls and a lot of chutzpah and I know you’re going to make it. I just have a good feeling about you.” I got in my car, called my dad, and wept for like an hour. I told him, “Joan gave me her blessing!” That was everything to me.
ON BEING BODY POSITIVE
I worked at SoulCycle in LA for a while and these celebs would come in and say “Oh, do you actually do the exercise?” and meanwhile I was in the best shape of my life! I mean, I was spinning three times a day! I’ve always been confident in who I am—probably to the point that I’m even overconfident—and I’ll go out in a spandex number and have a camel toe and think I look f*%*ing fantastic. Later my mom will say, “That outfit was NOT a good look,” but I felt like I was rocking it! Life is too short to be tied down to a number on the scale. God doesn’t give you everything. If you’ve got a beautiful body and a great face you might be as dumb as a box of rocks. I’ve got great thin ankles and an awesome personality, but the shoulders of an offensive lineman.
ON EMERGENCY WEIGHT
I’m very body positive and believe you should be the best version of yourself, but I know when I’ve hit my emergency weight when I take off my jeans and it looks like I have a cesarean scar but I’ve never been pregnant. The zipper has been sinking into my stomach and I have an Old Navy insignia embossed on my skin. That’s when I know I’ve hit my emergency weight.
ON BEING REAL
With comedy, I think people want to know about stretch marks, my emergency weight and my eczema flare-up after I ate six doughnuts on a Tuesday because I was hormonal and stress eating. That’s the real stuff people are also going through, so I post what I’m doing day to day and the hilarity ensues.