Fortune Feimster has been taking the comedy scene by storm, and recently appearing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing where she finished as a semi-finalist. Now, she is most well known as being a full-time writer and performer on E! Network’s Chelsea Lately show.
She talks with Tagg about her life on the show, her importance as an out lesbian comedian, and yes, even her signature Hooters outfit.
You’re doing two shows at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. Have you ever been to Washington, D.C. before?
I’ve been to D.C. but not since my middle school went there on a field trip. I’m excited to go back as an adult; somewhat of an adult, I still feel like I’m fifteen. I have a couple friends that live there and I think they’re going to be my tour guides and show me all the sites. Or we’ll just end up drinking in a bar somewhere.
Your comedy career started from an improv class. Tell me about that and how you got started in comedy.
It did start from an improv class. Somebody came to one of the shows and said, “You’re definitely a stand up. You should try it,” and I said no and they said, “Get in this class and just see if you like it.” The teacher ran The World Famous Comedy Store so I ended up helping them out and for a year I got to perform every Sunday at The Comedy Store, which really helped me build a lot of material. Then a couple years after that, I eventually ended up doing Last Comic Standing and that helped get my name out a little bit. Then with Chelsea, they were looking for a new writer and they knew me from Last Comic Standing and saw me do my crazy characters. Then I had a meeting with Chelsea and pretty much thought she hated me.
Why did you think she hated you?
Well she like, gets to the point. I’m from the South and we’re more like, “Hey girl, how you doing? What have you been up to today?” and she just gets right to it. Then suddenly about 10 minutes into the meeting she just abruptly got up and was like, “Okay, thanks for coming” and I was like, “Oh man! She totally hated me!” I even called my manager and told him, “Well, I blew that. Sorry. I was trying to be funny and obviously she didn’t think I was funny.” Then somehow, I don’t even know how, I got the job.
How do you think you sealed the deal?
To this day the producer swears that it was because I mentioned that I was willing to wear Hooters outfits. She said when I said that she could see Chelsea’s eyes light up and I think she got it in her head that she could put me in any little tiny outfit she wanted to. It was like Christmas to her. Dressin’ up a fat chick.
Speaking of little, tiny outfits. You’re name is Fortune. My name is Jade, and people always ask me if that’s my stripper name. Do people ever ask you if that’s your stripper name?
I’m usually the one joking that it’s my stripper name. You’d think that people would not forget it because it’s so different. That was always the hope because it’s my middle name and I didn’t start going by it until I was 22. I figured I had such a cool middle name and thought people would remember that more. Now people call me Fountain or Future. They know it’s some weird “F” word and I’m like, “It’s FORTUNE!” Or Treasure.
A lot of people call me Treasure. I had this guy when I was at a bar and he was like, “Oh my god! I saw you with my friends and I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s Treasure!’” He was being dead serious. I thought he was messing with me for a second and then I realized that no, this guy really thinks my name is Treasure.
Okay, so now that you’ve got the job. How has it been working for Chelsea Lately? What’s your favorite part of being a writer there?
I think it’s the unpredictability of it. I mean, as comedians we need to be stimulated constantly and having an office job is not what we’re necessarily use to. We’re a little more free-spirited. So I like that on any given day you have no idea if you’re going to be in a crazy outfit or doing an impression. It’s kind of cool to never really know what’s going to happen. I also like the people I work with a lot. We make each other laugh. It’s really nice to have that camaraderie.
What was it like to kiss Chelsea Handler?
They were laughing because they were like, “It’s your dream come true. You’re welcome.” When it happened I was just supposed to grab her and be aggressive and kiss her. Then when the time came, I just turned and stared at her for what seemed like forever and everyone else had already grabbed [his or her] person and I was like, oh crap. I wussed out for a second, but then I finally pulled it together and it was pretty fun. My boss was like, “Make sure you grab her boob.” Then I said, “Hey, alright, if that’s the order then I will dutifully follow.
We know you’re a fan of your Hooters uniform. Where did you get it?
I went to Hooters and I bought it. I went to one and said, “I want to get one of your shirts” and they looked at me like I was crazy. Actually, I bought the shorts at Goodwill so that’s why they’re faded. I don’t think I could fit in the actual Hooters shorts.
One of your sketches is impersonating Honey Boo Boo. Since you have so much insight, I wanted to know what you think is in store for the real Honey Boo Boo’s future?
I don’t think it’s looking good, I’ll tell you that. At some point there’s going to be another redneck family that America’s obsessed with. That’s just reality television. Let’s face it. As adorable as she is, you should have seen pictures of me when I was her age. I was adorable. I was chubby and I had curly hair and I was so cute and everyone just thought I was the most adorable thing. And then I went through an ugly phase that lasted like 20 years and I’m just now getting cute again. If I had a T.V. show back then, America would have been done with me by the age of 9. She’s probably going to go through a lot of awkward phases, if it was anything like my childhood.
What are your thoughts on coming out and being an out lesbian comedian?
It’s been pretty positive I have to say. It’s not like I was Angelina Jolie. No guy’s thinking, “Oh, I might have a chance with this one.” So I don’t feel like I’m cutting myself off from any certain demographic unless you’re maybe hardcore conservative. For the most part, I really haven’t had any negative situations happen. I came out when I did Last Comic Standing and I showed who I was right away. I think as a comedian that’s important because if you’re not telling the audience something about yourself and they can sense it, something just feels off about it and they’re not as on board with you. If you’re just like, “This is who I am and I’m cool with it” then they’ll be cool with it. But if you’re presenting some sort of insecurity about who you are, I just think the audience picks up on that. So for me there’s no other option than to be out because it’s part of who I am and I’m not trying to pretend to be somebody else.
I wish more people would enjoy who they are rather than trying to be who they think they should be on stage. That’s why Chelsea is so successful. She was always herself. That’s who she is. She does like to drink and she does like to have a good time and at one point in her life she was promiscuous. She wasn’t joking about that, she’s was just saying, “These are my stories and this is what I did.”
You’ve obviously come so far in just a few years and you don’t seem to be stopping any time soon. What are your future goals?
Right now, because Chelsea has a production company, I’m really trying to take advantage of having that as a tool to pitch projects. I’ve really been trying to write T.V. ideas for shows because I want to get into the creative part. I sold a show last year to ABC and it didn’t get picked up but it was cool to sell it. I kind of got bit by that bug of T.V. production.
I’m working on another project that I hope will be something I can pitch as well. My focus is on that right now but I’m a performer. Whenever my time at Chelsea comes to an end, I definitely hope to get in front of the camera more because I have a big acting background and I love it. It would be really cool to do more of that. We’ll see. I’m just trying to work hard at Chelsea and get my name out there. That’s the biggest thing; trying to get people to know who you are so they want to come see your show.
Fortune Feimster performs Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 at The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. For more information, click here.
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