Do we really need another entry in the crowded Mommy Lit genre? Books about filling the sippy cup with happy hour chardonnay and blowing off baby CPR are all over the place — but has anyone ever been as acerbic on the topic of motherhood as Erma Bombeck was in the '70s? Now we have Heather McDonald's new My Inappropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable for Small Children, Nuns, or Mature Adults, and she's a worthy successor. After dressing up her son's kid-size stuffed monkey so she can use the diamond lane, she wonders about her mug shot if she gets arrested: “I've been practicing my mugshot face since Lindsay Lohan was arrested for her second DUI back in 2007. It's a soft, closed-mouth smile, and I tilt my head slightly to the left with big innocent eyes so I still look pretty but somewhat regretful for what put me behind bars — even if it was a simple misunderstanding.” A standup comic and writer for Chelsea Lately, McDonald can also be seen on After Lately premiering February 25.
LA WEEKLY: Congratulations on the book. Was there anything inappropriate you were told to leave out?
Heather McDonald: There were some, but I was able to put them in at the end in the epilogue. A lot of inappropriate things have happened since I finished the book. There is pregnancy photo of me in the book, and when we got the galley the photo had been untouched and you could clearly see my bare nipples. My two oldest kids kept asking if the book was going to be in their Catholic school library, because they were horrified. When the hard cover arrived I quickly showed them my now blurred nipples to which my very disappointed 6-year-old son whined. “Oh no, I wanted to show everyone mom's big nipples! I love those nipples.” Needless, to say he's the pervert in the family.
You're attractive, thin, funny, talented and you're on TV a bunch. Why shouldn't we hate you?
First of all, thank you so much. You shouldn't hate me because my life is far from perfect. I have flat ass, which is really out of style right now. I think people don't hate me because I am so honest about myself. I like looking cute, and I'm truthful about what goes into it. But my favorite thing to hear more than anything else is that I make people laugh. Yes, I care about how I look, but I care more about getting a laugh and if that requires me to wear a really unflattering outfit and sport ladies' mustache to pull off a character, I'll do it. I think that people know where I'm coming from because I never try hiding anything about myself.
This quote I find brilliant: “I'll admit that once at an outdoor café I covered myself with a receiving blanket and fed Drake with a bottle under it so it would appear like I was breastfeeding to avoid being judged by the other mothers whose babies were under their shirts.” Do you find that these super-perfect moms to be among the most uptight people you've ever met? (A parent overheard me refer to her son “annoying” once — and boy did I get a bitch-slap from her.)
Yes I do. I feel that the women who are overly judgmental of other moms are that way because they are not fulfilled being just a mom. They were hoping it'd be enough and therefore treated raising a 2-year-old like running the marketing department at major corporation because that is the job they had previous to motherhood.
Do you have any worries that parents from your kids' school will read My Inappropriate Life and not want their kids to to be around yours?
Yes, I feel that may have already happened even without them reading the book. My kids go to the same Catholic school in the Valley that I went to, and many of my former classmates are also parents there now. And I was always inappropriate even as child. I was the youngest of five kids and because of my older siblings I knew what sex was by the second grade and told every kid who would listen. Also I was obsessed with hookers after seeing a made for TV movie about a teenage prostitute and insisted on dressing up as a lady of the night for Halloween in the third grade, so that didn't help my reputation. Also, normally people have to watch their language when they go to work. I'm the opposite I have to watch my language when I leave work. For eight hours a day we make crass jokes and use the F word as an adjective, verb and adverb. So I've found myself letting it slip around my kid's Catholic school.
Your impressions of Drew Barrymore, Marlee Matlin, Renee Zellweger, among many others, are brilliant. Have any of them given you feedback or been offended?
Most recently, I ran into Marlee Matlin at an event, and she was great. She was well aware of my impression and had a really good attitude about it. I was talking to her through her interpreter and only after our conversation concluded was I told that I was using sign language as I spoke to. I don't know sign language. I just can fake it really well, so as I was describing my family and I guess I was making up gestures for it and totally unaware that I was essentially mimicking her to her face. If she didn't think I was an A-hole before I'm sure she does now.
Before you became a parent, did you say things like, “I would never let my kid eat at McDonald's/play video games” that you've come to change your mind about?
I remember a time before my husband and I had kids, we went to a breakfast place and the table next to us had some kids and when they left it was just a disaster of Cheerios and fruit thrown all about and on the floor. I did say something like that will never be me, that poor busboy. It did become me, but I made up for it by always tipping very well. My kids do eat McDonald's and play video games but with restrictions. During Christmas we got some Christmas letters from friends and their kids really seemed to be setting the world on fire. They were playing instruments and on traveling soccer teams and I felt a little inadequate. But then it started to rain and my son said, “Mom, it's raining! Let's get all that money we've been saving for a rainy day and buy whatever we want. You can get your wine and I can get my video games,” and I said to myself I doubt those cello-playing nerds in that Christmas card ever said something that funny.
Can you give us any dirt on any Chelsea Lately guests? Which celebrities smell bad?
No dirt, more happy surprises of how sweet some of them are and we are always shocked to hear they are big fans of ours. A couple of months ago Fergie was a guest and she told our producer she was dying to do a sketch with us. We have a Chelsea Lately dance crew so we decided to do a dance with her. When we entered her dressing room to practice the routine she was nervous to meet us and few minutes in she said “I can't believe I'm actually here with the Chelsea Lately comedians.” I mean this is Fergielicious are you kidding me?
You tweeted “I would look so horrible w/out my curling iron, face creams & makeup. And that is why I will never commit murder.” How vain are you?
I wrote that after watching a 48 Hour Mystery, which is my all-time favorite show. However, I do think they are running out of stories about spouses killing each other because I feel like I've seen everyone. But this particular one the murderess was very pretty and after a year behind bars she still looked pretty good because she had naturally straight hair. I don't have that. My hair needs to be blown out with soft curls. Obviously, I was joking about committing murder but my biggest fear is that I would end up in jail for something I didn't do and while trying to prove my innocence I'd be kept from my coveted beauty supplies. I think it would be harder to convince a jury of my peers that I was framed with frizzy hair and large pores.
Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd.; Tues., Feb. 12, 7 p..m; free, book is $24.99. (310) 659.3110 –L.M.
Tue., Feb. 12, 7 p.m., 2013