Fortune rising: One-time Peace College student returns to Raleigh for Goodnights gig

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  • Fortune Feimster
You hate to be the asshole who points out that it’s a good thing Fortune Feimster has that first name, since a lot of that has been coming her way as of late. But it’s true.

The 31-year-old stand-up comic and Belmont, N.C. native has gotten herself the sweetest of gigs, as a writer for Chelsea Lately. Feimster says there were many people angling to be on Chelsea Handler’s popular, late-night bitchfest. Luckily, her appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing led to Handler and her staff taking a chance on her.

“They had about 400 people apply and I turned in a [writing] packet thinking I wouldn’t have a chance in the world,” says Feimster, on the phone, about to hop on a plane for a stand-up gig in San Francisco.

“And, then, they called me in, like, two months later for a meeting and it went well. Then, two days later, they called me in to meet Chelsea and, the next day, I had the job. So, I was pretty shocked.”

For a curly-haired, openly gay, zaftig gal who is funny but was also an entertainment news writer for the LA Daily News, writing for a pop-culture mocker like Handler is practically a dream job.

“I didn’t realize how much being an entertainment journalist would help out with doing Chelsea Lately, because it’s still pop-culture stuff,” she says. “So, I was very familiar with that world.”

Although she was an entertainment journalist for six years, she also had her foot in the funny, doing sketch comedy and improv with West Coast mainstays the Groundlings at the same time. She’s been doing stand-up for four and a half years.

Feimster caught the comedy bug while attending Peace College in Raleigh.

“I did some acting while I was there,” she says. “I kinda dabbled in improv, but not really. So, when I went to LA, I thought it would be cool to kinda take that back up again and see what it was like as an adult.”

She came up with many characters during her Groundlings time. She even made a YouTube video starring one of them, a portly, Southern-fried Hooters waitress named Darlene Witherspoon, that received more than 300,000 hits. “I’ve been on TV now for a year and a half and, like, I still get the most comments about that YouTube video,” she says.

“And people come up to me, like, quoting lines from it. . . . And some people think it’s a real person. They think that it’s an actual Hooters waitress.”

Feimster had Witherspoon and other characters ready to showcase when she had the opportunity to audition for Saturday Night Live not once, but twice. “It was certainly one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had,” she remembers.

“It’s such an iconic show, and everybody was really nice. Not a lot of comedians can even say that they got to try. So, I was happy just to get the try.”

So, would she consider leaving Chelsea Lately if she was given another shot at being a Not Ready for Prime Time Player?

“There are just so many opportunities at Chelsea Lately and with Chelsea Handler that I feel like the future is really bright there,” Feimster says. “So, I’m kinda content. I’m not really looking to do other things.”

At the moment, she’s also content with doing stand-up, which she’ll be doing as a first-time headliner at Goodnights Comedy Club this Friday. “I consider Raleigh kinda my hometown too,” she says. “So, it’s nice to be in front of a hometown crowd.”

And while Feimster may be known as a lesbian stand-up, she of course would prefer to be known as a stand-up who just happens to be a lesbian.

“Yes, it is a part of who I am, and people do know that I am gay,” she says. “But, luckily, comedy is kinda universal, and when you’re making people laugh, they tend to forget, like, if you’re gay or what race you are or your gender. They just know that you made them laugh. So, that’s kind of cool that comedy is one of the few things that sort of bridge the gap between different kinds of people. But it’s never hindered me and, hopefully, it never will.”

Fortune Feimster performs two sets Friday, Dec. 23, at Goodnights Comedy Club. Here's Feimster as Darlene Witherspoon.

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