Heather McDonald Describes Moments Before Collapsing on Stage and Her 'Lucky' Test Results (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
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Heather McDonald is on the mend after collapsing onstage. The comedian opens up to ET's Lauren Zima about her scary incident that occurred during her standup show at Tempe Improv in Arizona over the weekend. Three minutes into her set, she collapsed, fractured her skull and was admitted to a local hospital.
"I don't remember exactly what line I said, but I started to feel this really weird, like, I could see everything but I started to feel this really weird dizziness, kind of spotting," McDonald, 51, recalls from her Juicy Scoop podcasting location. "I was like, 'Wow, this better pass soon. I don't know how I'm gonna get through another hour and 10 minutes of material.' And then I was just taking a minute and I tried to think, 'Walk it off,' and that was the last I remember."
"It was out of a movie with all the faces around me and I'm on my back and people being like, 'Heather, Heather!'" she continues. "And I just could not believe it happened. I was like, 'This gotta be a dream! There's no way this happened, like, wake up!'"
Thankfully one of her sons was in attendance, as well as her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and they took her to St. Joseph Hospital.
"I had several doctors all looking at my stuff, asking me questions," she recalls. "[The doctor] said, 'Through the CAT scan, you have a fracture in your skull causing some bleeding on the brain.' But it was caused from that. So in doing all the tests, there wasn't a ticking time bomb, I didn't have an aneurysm or anything terrible like that, thank god. And then the second day they did another CAT scan and said it's already starting to heal. They ran heart tests and everything and had me on an IV and so I stayed there for two days."
McDonald says that she's not certain what exactly happened that day to cause her collapse, as she's "never fainted ever in my entire life."
"We really don't [know]. I'm really lucky that the tests all came out clear. I mean, I did eat, not right before, but I had a late lunch," she shares. "So I was going to have my dinner between the two shows. Normally I do eat a little closer to stage time. If I was going to go on stage at 7:30, I might have something at like 6, but I didn't. I was drinking water, but Arizona is different than here."
She will have more follow-up doctors appointments to make sure her skull is healing, but she's currently recovering at home, is sore and has two black eyes from the fall.
"I'm just really recovering from a concussion," she notes, adding that the doctors told her the bleeding on her brain is "looking better." "I just have to be really careful. And they say there can be effects from anywhere from like four weeks to several months, so you know just taking it easy," she says.
"I feel like every day it's getting a little bit better, I'm just like a little woozy, almost like I came off a cruise ship," she adds.
Part of her recovery also includes staying off her phone and screens, as well as not driving.
"If I touch it right now it's sore, so I'm putting ice on it and they say don't be on your screen for too long, which is a bummer because I, like, love TikTok. I can't watch TikTok on my phone and they say not to drive for a while and not to drink, which is also a bummer for me," she jokes. "But I'm going to follow all of the rules and just be careful."
McDonald jokes about the incident now, explaining how coincidently she starts her act out by saying how healthy she is. She quips that she's vaccinated, boosted, never had COVID-19, that "Jesus clearly loves me" and thinks she's a hoot.
"I think that maybe that cockiness, I don't think Jesus loves me the most. And so literally I was like, Jesus flipped me over," she cracks, before explaining how if she had fallen in a different setting, other furniture or a person could have helped her not fall.
"The main thing is if I had felt just faint like that in a normal setting, there would probably be a piece of furniture or a human, but I'm completely alone onstage," she says. "This little thing isn't even like a normal stool where I have my water, and then of course the mic stand, that's it. So you can see I'm kind of grabbing for something, so I think in other cases when people faint, they're luckier than I am because they're not alone."
It took her a while to want to see the video of her collapsing, and says that the fall "looks like it was part of the act, which is what people thought, except the thump was so loud."
"I also came out to Cardi B's 'WAP' and the first night I did a dance and the second night I went a little further dancing and I did do a booty drop. But still, there were several, there was a full minute after I did the booty drop that I fell," she hilarious recalls. "Going forward I will not do the booty drop. I will definitely eat within two hours of stage time [and] always have plenty of water."
McDonald, meanwhile, is ready to return to the stage and is confident that she'll fully recover by the time her next shows come up. "I'm grateful I didn't have 10 shows lined up right now because that would be difficult," she says, noting that for future shows, she "might start inserting a hip tennis shoe look."