Good Fortune

Fortune Feimster, a comic on the rise

By Christian Carvajal on March 21, 2019

Some comics just have it. They're blessed with a fresh look, a distinctive voice, a hot take and it seems they hit the national market as overnight successes. Unfortunately, though, in the overcrowded world of standup comedy, even so-called overnight success is bound to be the result of over a decade of excellent work. Such was the case with Emily Fortune Feimster, originally from Belmont, North Carolina, who's breaking out now on television screens all over the world. It's our readers' good fortune that she'll be the headliner at Tacoma Comedy Club for four sets this weekend.

Feimster (rhymes with Teamster) graduated from William Peace University as student body president, summa cum laude, in 2002. Her graduation keynote speaker, actress Emily Procter of CSI: New York, offered her a job as personal assistant. Feimster accepted and moved to Los Angeles. Procter fired Feimster a year-and-a-half later, perhaps because Feimster kept losing Procter's cat, the care of which was ostensibly her chief responsibility. This freed Feimster to work as an entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. A longtime fan of Saturday Night Live, she attempted to emulate the career arc of several cast members by joining the Groundlings improvisational troupe. That landed her two auditions for SNL, neither of which persuaded Lorne Michaels to cast her. Instead, she started her own improvisational troupe and polished her club sets at The Comedy Store. That got her on NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2010.

It wasn't till Feimster was 25 that she realized she was gay; she says everything clicked into place as she watched a Lifetime TV-movie called The Truth About Jane. Being a full-grown adult may have eased her coming-out process, even for a small-town Southerner. "I honestly feel good about who I am," she remarked to feminist website Autostraddle. "That comes across on stage, and I hope people feel comfortable with me in return." Last year she announced her engagement to kindergarten teacher Jacquelyn Smith. She jokes that when she came out to her very Southern dad, his response was, "A'ight, whew -- You want us to buy you, like, a men's blazer? Or a top hat?"

Feimster worked steadily since 2010 -- her CV studded with recurring appearances on Chelsea Handler's shows, Life in Pieces and The Mindy Project alongside memorable appearances on 2 Broke Girls, Drunk History, Glee, RuPaul's Drag Race and solo episodes of Comedy Central's The Half Hour and Netflix's The Standups. She jokes about people mistaking her for Jonah Hill or Richard Simmons, but she's on the verge of national recognition in her own right. In 2014, Variety listed her in "Top 10 Comics to Watch." She's a writer in hot demand, having sold a comedy screenplay with the intriguing title Bad Cop, Bad Cop to Steven Spielberg's Amblin Productions and two series pilots, one produced by Tina Fey, to ABC.

Club-goers weary from years of political comedy may find a refreshing lack of it in Feimster's material. Instead, she riffs on the peculiarities of being a lesbian Southerner of substance in superficial L.A. "There's only been one time where being gay was hard for me," she jokes, "and that is when the gay community declared war against Chick-fil-A. ‘Cause here's the deal, people: I'm fat first and lesbian second. ... Their chicken doesn't taste like it hates gay people! It tastes very gay-friendly! Come on! Pick Subway!"

FORTUNE FEIMSTER, 7:30 and 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23, Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St., Tacoma, $22-$30, 253.282.7203,