Backstage: Fortune Feimster is Sooo Silly

Mar 19, 2013 by

Backstage: Fortune Feimster is Sooo Silly

by Heather Cassell

If you don’t know Fortune Feimster you will soon. The “Chelsea Lately” writer is rapidly becoming a comedy star in her own right.

When Fortune isn’t writing for “Chelsea Lately” or being silly with the show’s host Chelsea Handler during the after show, the 32-year old comedian is on the road criss-crossing the United States most weekends performing.

This month, leading up to the Dinah in Palm Springs, April 3 – 7, audiences can catch Fortune in Las Vegas, Nev. Grand Rapids, Mich., and New York, NY.

“It’s such a cool event,” says Fortune, excited about the Dinah.
The headliner at the comedy show on Thursday, April 4 and one of the celesbians at the Celebrity Poker on Saturday, April 6 she’s looking forward to being at the Dinah, she says.

Fortune getting her groove on for the girls at the Dinah. (Photo: Courtesy of AfterEllen.com)

Fortune getting her groove on for the girls at the Dinah. (Photo: Courtesy of AfterEllen.com)

“This is my first time actually doing a full big set,” says Fortune. “I’m looking forward to it because there are some really funny ladies on the bill. They are just fun and great.”
Fortune’s working on fresh material to get the girls rip roaring laughing on Thursday night.

“I am going to make sure they are drinking a lot, so by the time I get up there they are ready. That they are so drunk that anything I say is just amazing,” says Fortune.

Seriously, Fortune really believes women are going to enjoy the show.

“I think that people will really enjoy it,” she says. “I love the comedy show. It’s a great way to start the weekend.”

She’s is also certain to get new material to work with at the Dinah. A Dinah regular hosting events, such as last year’s comedy show and a dance competition one year, one of her favorite things about the Dinah is “all of the people watching.”

“People just let their inhibitions go. It could not be more enjoyable to watch,” she says.
The greatest thing about Dinah in Fortune’s eyes are the women who converge on Palm Springs from all around the world for a weekend of fun, but more important to be themselves and openly love each other.

“For the first time in their life, its [OK to be] gay and hold hands with their girlfriend. They are around other lesbians and it’s safe,” says Fortune, who is a lesbian flying solo at the Dinah this year. “Even though they partying it up, they leave feeling a little bit more accepted and they fit in. I think that we all need to experience that at some point.”

Southern bred

Growing up in a Southern family, Fortune gets a lot of inspiration and material from her family and of course the South itself.

Named after her great grandmother, Fortune, whose full name is Emily Fortune Feimster, dropped her first name when she began doing comedy when she was 23-years old. It’s a way to honor her grandmother, she says.

“We were really, really close,” says Fortune, recalling times spent with her grandmother while growing up. She lived down the street from her in Belmont, a small Southern town outside of Charlotte, NC.

“She’s the one who instilled all this confidence and self-esteem within me. I wouldn’t be able to do this without that, so anytime someone calls me, Fortune, I feel that it’s a little nod to her,” she says.

Fortune’s family also helped develop her sense of humor. She describes her family as having a “really great sense of humor” and “we’ve always found the funny in everything.”

“We like to laugh a lot together. Since I was little I learned not to take myself too seriously,” she says.

Fortune is also amused by her fellow Southerners who unwittingly feed into her comedic routines at times.

Fortune as Darlene Witherspoon, the smokin' Hooters waitress. (Photo: Courtesy of FunnyorDie.com)

Fortune as Darlene Witherspoon, the smokin’ Hooters waitress. (Photo: Courtesy of FunnyorDie.com)

“It’s ridiculous. It always helps to be in the South because things happen that you never expected or you run into people that you just can’t believe exists, but they are real people,” says Fortune.

“Just being a Southerner … has shaped my comedy. Southern people, at least where I’m from, we are big storytellers it’s just a natural way of life,” she says. “I’ve met some of the most amazing storytellers and unique people.”

If she ever hits a dull spot in her routine she will fall on the Southern sword and turn up the twang, she says.

“Being Southern is just a bonus for me,” says Fortune. When in doubt, if my jokes are not that funny, I just turn on the twang.”

Southern rising

Fortune fell into comedy, a year after she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Peace College in NC. She landed in Los Angeles for a nanny job, after a stint teaching English as a Second Language in Sevilla, Spain for a year. By a stroke of luck, she became an assistant to the actress who spoke at her graduation and she began taking improv classes at the Groundlings, she says.

“It chose me I guess. I would have been too scared to go to New York or Chicago or anywhere else without having something to go towards,” she says about her chance career as a comedian.

Los Angeles has been good to this Southern funny girl.

It erased her stage fright and moved her up the comedy ladder as a writer for the “Chelsea Lately” show for two years. She has since become a regular on the “After Lately” show.

One of her most popular characters is Darlene Witherspoon, the not-so-skinny cigarette smoking Hooters waitress. The character was inspired by childhood memories of going to Hooters with her family.

Fortune (left) with Chelsea Handler (right), star of "Chelsea Lately" on E! (Photo: Courtesy of the Dinah)

Fortune (left) with Chelsea Handler (right), star of “Chelsea Lately” on E! (Photo: Courtesy of the Dinah)

“I just though, ‘How funny would it be to have some big girl try to be a Hooters waitress?’” she says, “but she embraces who she is and as a result everybody else embraces it.”
The character has been an all time hit, especially among gay men and drag queens, she says.

“I think it gets more response than any other character I’ve ever done, especially with gay men and drag queens,” says Fortune.

“The Hooters character has done me well,” she continues, chatting about how Chelsea loves to put her into ridiculously small outfits. “Chelsea happens to love bigger things. When she heard that I was the one to put on this tiny outfit I think her eyes got really big and she felt like she hit the jackpot. I felt like I hit the jackpot with her, ever since she’s been putting me in to tinier outfits.”

Road necessities

When Fortune isn’t being squeezed into tinier outfits she’s jet setting around the U.S. and cruising with the coolest lesbians. She’s performed for Sweet Travel and spends her weekends on the road.

Entertainment is the most important thing on Fortune’s list during her weekend gallivanting and long trips. She’s always armed with her iPad, but no cool travel trinket, she says.

“I don’t even own a cool trinket,” she says. “I wish I did.”

Fortune has traveled across the border to Mexico and she’s always ready to hit up the biggest cities in the U.S., but Middle America and small towns “actually ends up being more fun.”

It’s different, unlike big cities, middle and small-town America doesn’t always have the luxury of a variety of high quality entertainment at its fingertips. The audiences are appreciative.

“It’s nice to get to meet the people that watch the show,” says Fortune. “They are so invested in us and the show that when you meet them they are so nice and they make you feel good.”

“Chelsea Lately’s” Fortune Feimster (Photo: Courtesy of the Dinah)

“Chelsea Lately’s” Fortune Feimster (Photo: Courtesy of the Dinah)

“I relate to them and they relate to me,” she continues.

Ultimately, at the Dinah or performing around the U.S., Fortune enjoys meeting the people who come out to see her perform.

Where is Fortune going to next? She’s not sure. She hasn’t performed much on the East Coast or some parts of the South yet, she says. She isn’t short on ideas though, she regularly receives suggestions by email.

Fortune is only just getting started, “There are so many cities that I haven’t hit yet.”

To get your laugh on with Fortune, visit FortuneFeimster.com.

To contract an original article, purchase reprints or to become a media partner, contact editor@girlsthatroam.com.

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