Heather Land has a knack for finding the funny in everyday life.
In her sassy comedy, she tackles everything from dysfunctional family holidays and failed diets, to school drop-off lines and class reunions.
Being “very sarcastic” comes naturally, Land said, laughing. “The older I got, the more that came out,” she said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Nashville. “With traumas we experience and other life experiences, you can either laugh or cry. I’d rather laugh.”
Land said her journey to become a comedian was by accident. After a divorce and cross-country move with her two children from Colorado back to her parents’ home in Tennessee, Land took a “9-to-5 big girl job” as a refinancer. “I was also doing what every mature 40-year-old woman does, making silly Snap Chat videos and texting them to my friends,” she said, laughing.
A friend dared her to post one of the videos on Facebook. “I did, and it went viral,” Land said. “People started asking me to make more. I started getting calls to do my comedy at venues like fundraisers and churches, and it just grew from there. I was so confused, because I’m not a comedian.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Land is now an internet sensation with more than 300 million views and more than 3 million social media followers — even country star Miranda Lambert shared one of her videos.
Known for using the tagline “I ain’t doing it” while ranting with a bug-eyed, big-mouth Snap Chat filter and high-pitched voice in her videos, Land will bring her self-depreciating, Southern brand of comedy to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Friday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m.
“Yeah, it’s a strange feeling,” she said about her unorthodox rise to success. “I don’t really think about the numbers. It doesn’t feel like reality. It feels more like one big family, not millions of people. We’re just family, just a fun group of people.”
Land said she thinks her popularity can be attributed to her honest observations about life. “People tell me that I say the things they wish they could say,” she said. “I guess maybe I’m a voice for them.”
FROM WORSHIP LEADER TO VIRAL PHENOMENON
Land grew up in Milan, Tenn., about 2.5 hours west of Nashville. She attended Bible college in Florida, worked as a church worship leader for 20 years, and released a gospel album. “After I moved back home to Tennessee and started posting my videos, my career just blew up,” she said. “I made quite the pivot.”
Land pulled material from her videos on YouTube and compiled a 90-minute comedy set. She said her most popular video features her experience at a CrossFit workout, which she jokes “ it’s like adult hazing if you want to know the truth, and it should be illegal.”
Her material today focuses more on “stuff like hormones and getting remarried in my 40s,” she said.
Although Land is a believer and makes an occasional church joke, she doesn’t see herself as a “Christian comedian.”
“I’d describe myself as a clean comedian instead,” she said. “I don’t like to pigeonhole myself. I try not to mix religion — or politics — into what I do. I like my comedy to be more inclusive.”
Although Land’s comedy is appropriate for all ages, she noted “a 10-year-old might not understand my bit about going to a gynecologist. Moms are really going to get my comedy most of all.”
She cited Grammy-nominated comedian and podcaster Nate Bargatze as one of her biggest comedic influences. (If you want to check out Bargatze, he will be bringing his “Be Funny Tour” to Freedom Hall Civic Center in Johnson City on April 14 at 7 p.m.)
“Nate takes real life and makes it funny,” she said. “He’s a clean comedian. I have more respect for a comedian who can dig deep for the joke and not rely on curse words. Plus, his delivery is great.”
ALBUMS, BOOKS AND MOVIES
Land said she plans to continue making comedy videos and touring as well as exploring any new opportunities. She already has successfully branched into singing, writing and acting.
In addition to her previous gospel album, Land released a country album called “Counting On” a few years ago with the help of talented musician Keith Sewell, who has also worked with The Dixie Chicks, Ricky Skaggs, Lyle Lovett and others. “It’s 10 songs about heartache and moving on,” she said. “It’s my journey from heartbreak to hope.”
Land, who also plays piano, said her musical style is obviously influenced by her church background and worship music. “But I also love that relaxed indie sound… really anyone who sings melancholy. I love a good depression song,” she added, laughing.
She also has released two books, “I Ain’t Doing It: Unfiltered Thoughts From a Sarcastic Southern Sweetheart” and “A Perfect 10: The Truth About Things I’m Not and Never Will Be.”
“I started a blog several years ago (at heatherland.blog) just to get my thoughts down,” she said. “And I was approached to write some books. They’re really satirical essays about random, light-hearted topics like Walmart and Southern beauty pageants.”
She also starts work on her third movie later this month. “I did a couple of movies last year, and this new one is a Christmas movie,” she said. “I have supporting roles in them all. I really love doing movies. They are a lot of fun, and it’s another avenue for me to meet new people. I just want to keep staying in front of people, because it’s my favorite place to be.”
Her first movie, “Role With It,” will be released sometime this year, she said. Her second movie, “Family Camp,” is already out on Prime Video and other streaming services.
But for now, she is enjoying her “Heather Land Live” tour, which is booked across the country through May. Land said she is excited to perform in Greeneville next month.
“I’ve never been there before,” she said. “It’s nice to do a show close to home. I don’t do that many of them — most are out of state. Greeneville will feel like home to me.”