Finding the funny

Heather Land was living within a picture-perfect scenario, marrying her Bible college sweetheart and having two children, now 12 and 16.

But after 15 years of marriage, she found herself staring at a jarring blank slate: Going through a divorce, relocating from the home she had spent more than a decade residing in and starting from scratch.

That’s when a stream on consciousness started to flow, and Land began capturing her thoughts in short videos. Nudged by friends, she began sharing them on Facebook in 2017, using, “the craziest filter” she could find that boasted bulging eyes, a larger-than-life smile and an unknowing catchphrase that would sprout wings, “I ain’t doing it.”

It was that quirky combination in a video of Land poking fun at CrossFit that accelerated her following, netting 20 million views and establishing her as a viral Internet sensation.

Comedy had come “a callin,” according to Land. In less than one month, she went from zero viewers to being followed by millions. Yet, she had no aspirations of venturing into comedy, a medium she’s now embraced for approximately two years.

“Originally coming from the Nashville area, I was raised to be a musician, but my divorce made me sarcastic,” she said in her signature twang during a phone interview. “I was comfortable being in front of people from my time as a worship leader, but comedy is very different. I never saw myself as taking that kind of a route. Going through a divorce and moving out of the homes we had shared between Texas and Colorado for 10 years and raising our two children, everything hit at once. I was forced into a choice. I could keep doing what I was doing, or I could answer this call to go into comedy. It has been very, very surprising. It has just been this really quick evolution.”

That’s no joke.

By 2018, Land had taken her act on the road, touring solo as a stand-up comedian.

“I went on the road almost immediately, pretty much three or four days a week,” Land said. “I home-schooled my kids, so we’ve just been figuring this out as we go along. It has taken a big, stable team to get in the groove and to make road life a part of our normal life.”

Part of that “team” includes her new love of more than a year, who also is her production manager. The two met when Land began touring.

“He’s a wonderful partner,” Land said. “He travels with me, loves my kids and loves our family life. This career has taken me off the beaten path, for sure, but he has been great in helping me and the kids balance these two worlds.”

She also has landed a book deal. Named for her famous catchphrase, “I Ain’t Doing It: Unfiltered Thoughts from a Sarcastic Southern Sweetheart” was released in May.

Today, her content continues to tap into topics from her daily life, touching upon everything from gym etiquette to mammograms and dating in her 40s. But in proving she has a knack for tickling a funny bone, Land’s steadfast faith remains a cornerstone. Through her background as a worship leader, she has released music, including the gospel-tinged “Pouring it Out for You” and another album, “Counting On.”

Music and comedy have enabled Land to do what she loves most: Connecting with others, particularly women. She’ll get that opportunity as this year’s Her Night Out keynote speaker. The annual Her magazine nda Telegraph Herald event is set for Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque.

“I just love being able to talk with people and hear their stories,” Land said. “And I really love having the opportunity to encourage other women. I went from having a solid marriage and two kids to starting over and not having a dime. Now, I’m in love like a lunatic again. It can be very encouraging for women — and men — to know that what they’re going through isn’t necessarily going to kill them. Plus, it’s fun to get a night out, away from your kids to connect with other women and just feel accepted. I’m happy to help that come true.”

Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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