The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — Sassy Atlanta stand-up comic Heather McMahan last year fulfilled a lifetime dream by headlining the Fox Theatre. Since then, her popularity has only grown.
“I sold out Radio City Music Hall in New York. Then the Chicago Theatre. It’s wild! You keep having to set the bar higher,” McMahan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month by phone after appearing on the “Today” show in New York City. “I was told, ‘If it doesn’t scare you, then it doesn’t challenge you.’ That is a good point. Don’t settle!”
She has since recorded her first full hour special on Netflix called “Son I Never Had,” which came out last month. She is now prepping a second hour that will be taped at the Fox Theatre on Nov. 9 and 10 for a second hourlong special.
“Don’t get me wrong,” McMahan said. “I’ve had nervous diarrhea for two weeks. I try to turn that nervous energy into real excitement. I love what I do. I had a great time doing the Fox last year. Now I’m going back. I always wanted to shoot a special in Atlanta and say thank you to the people there.”
She said Netflix provides such major exposure, it’s surreal. “Everybody is going to know who you are,” she said. “You’re exposing your art to the world. In the meantime, I’m just sitting in a hotel room watching ‘Housewives’ by myself.”
The special is in many ways a dedication to her late father Kyle, who died in 2015 of pancreatic cancer. She made fun of her own husky build as a kid, feeling like she was the son he never had (thus the title of the special). She joked about how hot the doctor was who informed the family he was terminal.
She also told a story on stage about how her dad had prepurchased a casket and plot to make their lives easier. But after he died, the funeral director gave them the bad news: he was too fat to fit in the casket and they’d have to spend $30,000 more on a larger plot and casket. Her mom, she said, chose to cremate him instead.
“I wanted to highlight the ridiculousness of life even in tragedy,” McMahan said.
She also cracked wise about her challenges in trying to conceive after getting married in 2020 as well as being invited to a Lululemon wellness retreat despite not being a typical athletically trained social media influencer, noting that she had to wear what the NBA players were wearing.
The upcoming show at the Fox will focus more on her marriage with Jeff Daniels (not the actor). She will recount her overambitious and ill-advised 30-day international honeymoon. “We did too much,” she said. “When you’re abroad, things are going to go wrong. Dragging six pieces of luggage in Italy in peak summer heat is not the best idea.”
Though she has been with Daniels a long time, their marriage is still relatively new. “There’s a new energy behind the relationship,” she said. “I just learned patience. And there are always things you learn about someone. I look at him and wonder, ‘What secrets are you hiding?’”
But she trusts him implicitly. “I’m not worried about him having an affair,” she said. “He’s too lazy!” She said she is the same way: “I don’t have the energy. I surround myself with fabulous gay men.”
During the Netflix special, she sings a few times, mostly for comic effect, including a bit of Adele and Enrique Iglesias. “I used to have a great voice growing up,” she said. “I thought I’d do musical theater. But my voice keeps getting deeper and deeper. I’m a cool baritone now!”
Later on the day she spoke to the AJC, she appeared on Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens,” a big deal for a rabid Bravo fan like her. Five months ago, she visited for the first time. “It was like an out-of-body experience,” she said. “I’m so excited because a Salt Lake City housewife will be there and that’s one of my favorite franchises! I’m going to drink a nice wine with ice cubes to keep it high class and let it rip!”
In the new episode that is available on Peacock, she teased her hair up big time and wore a super glittery dress. When a fan asked her about the most dramatic “Housewife” turn of events so far this year, McMahan opted for the divorce proceedings of Atlanta reality stars Kim Zolciak and Kroy Biermann. And she amped up the drama.
“They have too many children,” McMahan said on air. “They need to be together, a family unit. I’m distraught. I’m destroyed. I’m crying, screaming, throwing up about it!”