With humor and honesty, Heather Land shared stories of marriage, divorce, dating in her 40s, raising children and all the other ups and downs life has brought her way.
“If I can get up here and do comedy after what I’ve been through, you can work your 9-to-5 and still have hope,” she said before taking the stage at Grand River Center on Thursday.
Land, a comedian, author and singer, kept a crowd of more than 600 women laughing with her stories of everyday life during this year’s Her Night Out.
The event was presented by Her magazine, a publication of the Telegraph Herald, and drew a sold-out crowd for an evening of shopping, food and a keynote from Land.
“It’s a fun girls’ night out to come out, laugh, have fun and shop,” said Ashley Thomas, of Wever, Iowa, who made the two-plus-hour drive with her friends to see Land perform.
During her keynote, Land shared the story of her rocky marriage and subsequent divorce. She said she had been married for 15 very long years.
“We’ve been divorced for almost six really awesome years,” she said.
She also discussed the difficulty of dating in her 40s after moving back home to Tennessee from Colorado, though she is now happily in a relationship.
One of the struggles of having not dated for a while was feeling desperate and telling herself that the guys she dated weren’t so bad.
“I have dated some doozies over the years,” she said.
One of the men she dated called her “Teresa” for the whole date. Another roller-skated. Another still, she discovered on a date, was on parole.
“I would rather sit on the front row of a Baptist revival with a hickey on my neck than to date somebody on parole,” Land joked.
She also shared stories about winding up at a class reunion with friends sharing stories about all of their various health issues.
“We talked for like 45 minutes, and I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. We are turning into our mothers,’” Land said.
Land noted ahead of her talk that she bases her stories on real life, telling her honest stories that women can relate to.
She said she finds it particularly gratifying to hear from people who tell her that her comedy has been a relief in their struggles.
“Just really being able to bring a little bit of light into their space is my favorite,” she said.
Thomas and her friends said they particularly enjoy Land’s comedy because of how relatable she is.
“She’s just a normal mom and a down-to-earth, fun human,” Thomas said.
Her friend Emily Flynn said she is “obsessed” with Land and purchased a copy of her book on Thursday.
“If I could get her to sign it, I’d be the happiest person in the world,” Flynn said.
Diana Floden, Karen Hernandez and Wanda Long made the trip down from Des Moines to attend Her Night Out.
The three have been friends for 50 years, call themselves “The Golden Girls” and all turn 70 this year.
“The Golden Girls came to Dubuque to celebrate their birthdays,” Hernandez said.
The women said they had been enjoying themselves on Thursday, with Floden particularly noting the opportunities she had to shop and have something to drink at a reasonable price.
“Just everything has been great,” she said.