Since it was my great fortune to spend a fun-filled weekend in the Palm Springs heat known as The Dinah with the unruly Miz of Frizz, rest assured, it is never dull and always springy around Fortune Feimster ‘s head. Aside from the signature mane, there’s also the constant creation of comic genius at play under the big top. The irregularly handled Chelsea Lately regular explained, “Fortune is my middle name, and my great grandmother’s maiden name. My grandma wanted my mom to name me that. Last week, one of my friend’s moms referred to me as ‘Fashon.’ The same friend had another friend that called me ‘Fountain.'”
The Last Comic Standing semi-finalist wasn’t always so fortunate at being well-known on stage, either, she confessed, when we chatted again last week, “I got my first taste of acting in college. I wasn’t great at it. I had really bad stage fright. They’d [say], ‘Fortune, we’re gonna cast you as, uh, Sound.’ It wasn’t until I did improv that I started to get comfortable on stage.”
After letting me tease her for another kind of stage fright, brought on by the suggestion of acquiring an intern or assistant to do her bidding; the amiable comic recalled how she had cut her comedy teeth in LA, spending five years with The Groundlings improvisation and sketch comedy theater, while working as a columnist for Beck/Smith Hollywood. Often compared to the place where I’d cut my own chops, The Second City; The Groundlings have, during more than three decades of improvisational comedy, graduated some notable talents, including comedic luminaries Laraine Newman, Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow, Cheri Oteri, Kathy Griffin, and Will Ferrell.
“The cool thing of having come up through the Groundlings,” says the famously frizzy alumni, “is that I see more and more of the people from there getting gigs. Taran Killam, for instance, on Saturday Night Live. He’ll be the break-out star on that show.”
Now at home on stage, acting has recaptured Feimster’s imagination, she admits, “At some point, I definitely feel like my passion is for more on-camera stuff. Now, I would never shy away from other forms. I would really love to do something with Kristin Wiig… she’s so cool, so nice, such a hilarious actor… be the coolest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan, so even a minute in a scene with him would be a dream.”
Finding herself more connected to the talents she loves, the Feimster points out that, “The comedy world is smaller than you would think. The longer you are a part of it, the more people you meet that you want to work with.”
Looking ahead, Fortune Feimster reveals, “There’s talk of me maybe doing a book, maybe a show down the road. I do hope one day to write my own show,” she admits, chuckling with the charm of self-deprecation for which she is known, and admitting to having, “Lots of lofty goals. Hopefully, those kind of opportunities will present themselves down the road.”
For now, though, Feimster is quite content to be an integral part of E! Network’s Chelsea Lately cast, saying, “I feel like I pretty much hit the jackpot with that one. She’s really great, and can be fiesty! She looks out for us. Chelsea Handler is really generous, and wants to give everybody opportunities.”
Although each of their schedules precludes much downtime, Feimster enthused that she and Handler recently, “Went to Just For Laughs in Montreal together. It was so fun!” Breaks, especially the laugh-addled ones, are welcome respites to the hard-working jokester, who admits that, “I have to be creative everyday, writing nearly every day, so my brain gets really mad at me. I’m so grateful that I get to be creative for a living, but some days I have to think of a joke, and all I can think of is Cheetos.”
Typically, Feimster notes, “There’s not a minute of downtime, so I drink way too much coffee. Usually, my only downtime is winding down with an hour of crappy TV before I have to go to bed.” Fans can tune in and turn on to a not-so-crappy late night TV hour called Chelsea Lately, if you haven’t already discovered this hotbed of hilarious hams.
You can also catch the act of fortune that is Feimster live as she roams the country’s stand-up haunts in search of laughs between tapings of Chelsea Lately, and at one of her frequent gigs at either the Hollywood Improv or the World Famous Comedy Store.