Comedian Heather McDonald is used to be on the other side of celebrity drama. But earlier this month, a plucked quote from a podcast led to a venomous spat between herself and her former boss Chelsea Handler, an unfortunate series of events she has since apologized publicly for.
McDonald worked seven years as a writer and was a roundtable regular on Handler’s “Chelsea Lately,” also appearing in the satirical scripted show, “After Lately,” until the shows ended in 2009. She’s coming to Boston on March 10-12 for a series of stand-up at Laugh Boston, and calls us from her home in San Fernando Valley, Calif. to talk about the state of reality TV, her podcast and how she'll find the positive in her situation with Handler.
The reality of reality
McDonald has a theory about this season of “The Bachelor,” and it leans right. “I feel like there’s a really strong similarity between the [contestants] roles and the Republican candidates,” she says. “Like Jubilee is Ben Carson because she got the boot and she talks slowly and isn’t very friendly. Olivia is Trump and JoJo is Rubio.”
McDonald is an avid watcher of the ABC series, though she admits “it’s gotten more entertaining, but worse for the female race.” She also wonders if the women on the show later find themselves strapped for dates after admitting they dabbled in looking for love on reality TV.
“I was on a dating show called ’Studs,’ [on Fox] and the guy picked me and I picked him, and while there was no following us on a date, you answered questions [about each other ] on stage afterward,” McDonald recalls. “When guys found out years following, they were really turned off. I would love to do a social experiment with people on the show in 10 years, and see how it’s affected their lives post-‘Bachelor.’”
The power of podcasts
McDonald's podcast, "Juicy Scoop" for Podcast One, usually features a selection of Bravo stars (Karashians, "Housewives") or her fellow comedians, but she says the show's success is a delightful, but unexpected one.
"It's been so incredibly gratifying," she says. "I get feedback from standup, but this has been every week people will tell me they listened on their commute or when they clean their house."
Plus, she thinks radio is cool again: "It's the Millennials. You think radio is dead, but it's making a huge comeback. [Podcasts are] not as distracting as TV and are more entertaining than music." She sadly also admits she didn't expect the podcast in which she said she "lived in fear" during her years on "Lately" would make the rounds.
"With podcasts, you don’t think anyone is listening and you get really comfortable," she explains. "But if you listen to [that] entire podcast, it’s more about myself and my own insecurities and I can’t be the only the person who was ever afraid of their boss."
Taking it to the stage
The comedian plans to use drama from the experience as her material for her upcoming stand-up shows. "I’m going to talk about it on stage, because it’s actually there are some funny parts about those two weeks, I don’t want it plucked out and made into a headline again," McDonald says. Though to be fair, she understands how the game is played. "But I get how it works," she says. "I've definitely spoken on single topics pulled from a four-page ELLE article."
If you have a difficult boss, she does offer up some advice: "Don’t talk about it on a podcast a year and half later," she advises. "That’s a mistake."
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