interview by Hannah Brinks
She’s famous. She’s adventurous. She likes soccer and tennis. She is secretly fond of scrapbooking. Her green eyes and fresh sense of humor will stun you. Her Wealthy Theatre performance in 2013 during LaughFest sold out. She’s coming to back to Grand Rapids.
Meet Fortune Feimster, a 33 year-old North Carolinian who loves the light-hearted aura of life. She describes herself as a child when she’s not writing or performing comedy. WLM had the opportunity to interview her before her appearance in Grand Rapids this Friday, June 20, at the Peter Wege Auditorium in the Wealthy Theatre. Get to know Fortune below and purchase your tickets here!
Her comedy career began rather unconventionally. She tried to act in college, but had such terrible stage fright that success was inaccessible. It wasn’t until after college when she joined an improv group that she overcame her fears and found her calling.
She calls her improv experience a “lifesaver… because I can’t imagine doing what I do now and being scared.” Fortune’s stand up guided her to the semifinals of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Though she found herself out of her element on this type of project, she was on the show long enough for people to discover her comedic genius.
Three years later, she’s been writing and performing for the E! Network show “Chelsea Lately,” as well as making appearances in several movies and continuing to do standup.
WLM: Why include Grand Rapids on your tour?
FF: I work with a promoter and she’s from Ohio. We had done some shows in Ohio and decided to do a mini-Midwest tour, and hit a couple of different spots. I don’t get to get out to that area very often so I’m very excited.
WLM: Is there something that makes each audience unique?
FF: Oh for sure. I can do a show one night and it will go just okay, and do the same material the next night and it could be the best show ever. If they’re excited and giving a lot of energy off, then I give it right back.
WLM: Is there anything that you want our Grand Rapids audience to know about you before you perform?
FF: Usually my show has something for everybody. I try not to focus on one story or one type of myself. I talk about my family, growing up, my experiences — I talk about everything. I also do a lot of crowd work. That also makes every show different and my responses are always different. I enjoy a very interactive audience.
WLM: You’ve done a lot of traveling for your tours. Is there a place that you enjoyed more? Were there places that found you funnier than others?
FF: Montreal is always really cool, but I’ve always had fun in Salt Lake City Surprisingly. They always have really good turnouts.
WLM: Do you get to do any traveling for fun anymore?
FF: I’m looking into possibly going to New Zeeland for fun. I have a friend that lives there, so I would be visiting them.
WLM: Is there subject that you get a lot of inspiration from?
FF: Most of my material comes from different stories from growing up, my family, and my own experiences, and sometimes I improvise. I talk about my mom most of all, and she definitely does not mind because she is an attention-loving woman. When she comes to the shows, people love that she’s there and watching. She’s in North Carolina so she doesn’t see them too often, but she loves being the topic of conversation even if she’s being made fun of.
WLM: Is there any comedy subject that a lot of people think is funny that you just don’t?
FF: I’m not super crass. I don’t love it when people are gross just to be gross.
WLM: Are there any comedians you look up to?
FF: I watched Saturday Night Live a lot growing up so I love Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon and Adam Sandler. I still enjoy re-runs of The Carol Burnet Show and Ellen DeGeneres’ old stand-up routines.
WLM: If you weren’t a comedian, what other job would you like to pursue?
FF: When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer. I think I would probably be a writer — I would want to create something somehow. I tried being a teacher once, and all I wanted to do was play, I didn’t really want to be serious and teach. I’m not very handy, so I couldn’t build things… honestly, I don’t know what I’d do so it’s a good thing I have the comedy!
WLM: Do you have any big projects in the works?
FF: I filmed a Tina Fey show for Fox, but we’re waiting to hear if that moves forward, so hopefully I’ll be starting that in the fall. Because I’m on contract with them I can’t really start anything else, but I’m doing a lot of standup.
WLM: Anything you want to tell readers?
FF: I’m just excited to be coming out there! I hope a lot of people come to the show because I don’t get out there that often. A lot of time guys will come with their girlfriends rather begrudgingly and then at the end they’re the ones that are most excited and that’s one of the biggest compliments. I’m really excited and it’s going to be a great show, so I hope I have a lot of people to enjoy this.
WLM: What is the oddest thing in your purse/backpack?
FF: Well I carry a wallet, but I guess a punch card for sandwiches at Whole Foods or a punch card for the nail salon. I bet no one will expect that.