Fortune Feimster talks “Chelsea Lately” and hosting Club Skirts The Dinah

AE: How’s it going on Chelsea Lately?
FF:
It’s going great. I’ve been there over a year now and it definitely feels like home now. Everyone [was] very welcoming from the start, but everyone’s really tight and knows each other here. I feel like I’m part of the group now. I’m more comfortable on the roundtable, and more comfortable around Chelsea. The exposure is amazing. People always have really nice things to say about the show and our silly sketches.

AE: What can you tell me about Chelsea that would surprise people?
FF:
People only see that person on TV who’s very snarky, but in reality, her heart is really big. Most people in her position like the spotlight. She doesn’t need it just for herself. Chelsea’s one of the only people I know of that is constantly trying to bring other people into the light, too. She really tries to come up with opportunities for everyone else. That’s cool, because she doesn’t have to do that.

And she was the Grand Marshal of the Gay Pride Parade a few years back. She has a lot of gay friends. She’s hosting an HRC event that’s coming up.

AE: She’s from Jersey. We Jersey girls are cool.
FF:
They are. Jersey girls! You’re getting a bad rap because of Snooki. There are some good Jersey girls out there! Also, Chelsea’s really loyal. That’s something a lot of people don’t know about her.

AE: How did the show’s producers find you?
FF:
They did a big search for new writers and had two or three hundred applicants. My manager told me about it. I don’t know if she contacted him, or he contacted her, but somehow, a couple of [her people] came to see me at the Groundlings and asked me to submit.

AE: What did you have to submit?
FF:
You had to send jokes on pop culture, monologues, like that. I had been a journalist during the day while doing comedy at night, and luckily, my journalism job was related to pop culture. I had never written for TV, but the genre fit.

AE: Do you remember what jokes you wrote? Was there a joke that knocked it out of the park and made you think, “That’s the one that got me in?”
FF:
I’ll tell you the one that didn’t get me in. There was a Harry Potter premiere or something, and there was something in the news about Daniel Radcliffe at the premiere, and a cell phone. I don’t know if he lost his cell phone, or someone stole his cell phone. And I said, “I don’t know why he would have a cell phone. Don’t they all use owls?”

AE: [Laughs] You don’t really hear that many owls jokes anymore.
FF:
It was something stupid like that.

AE: Hey, I want to talk about New Year’s Eve, 2010 because I love this story. You came to my dinner party, and we went around the table and said what we liked about 2010, and what we hoped for in 2011… OK, it wasn’t as gross sappy as I just made it sound, but you remember.
FF:
We were lesbians, so we were sharing feelings.

AE: It was right before you got the call from Chelsea Lately.
FF:
2010 was a challenging year for me. I was not in a great place. I had lost my journalism job because of the economy. Not because I suck. We all know I don’t suck, most of the time. Anyway, I had been unemployed for a while, so I was pretty much broke at that point. And I had been traveling a lot doing standup. It’s great to be doing standup, but it’s very lonely on the road and depressing. And I had been going through some woman troubles.

AE: Gynecological?
FF:
No. Things didn’t work out with someone that I liked. Just a lot of different things all fell on me at once. So in 2010, I was just like, “Gosh, it’s got to get better next year.” Not that those problems are the biggest problems that ever existed, it’s just where I was at, at the time.

AE: And then…
FF:
So I was saying that I really want something to work out, career-wise.

AE: And we all told you, “This is your year. This is your year!”
FF:
Yeah. Everyone was excited for something good happening to me. And jokingly, our friend Amy said, in her Oprah impression, “And you’re going to Australia, and you’re going to Australia, and you’re going to Australia!” And we all started cheering and banging on the table and clapping.

AE: Yes! I forgot about that.
FF
: And literally, three weeks later, I got a call to interview for [the Chelsea] job. I had sent a packet two months ago and didn’t hear anything, so I thought it was done. A week later, I was hired. I went from being broke and unemployed to this wonderful job opportunity.

And the big kicker is, a week into my job, they said, “Oh, by the way, were going to Australia in March to film and you’re coming.” What?! It’s crazy, so crazy! And fun, and cool, and awesome.

AE: Well, you worked your ass off. And you’re really talented.
FF:
I have worked very hard to get to this point. A lot of people think I came out of nowhere. And I’m like, “No, I’ve been plugging away at this for at least eight years now: improv, sketch, stand up.” But sometimes, people work very hard and nothing happens, so I’m very lucky.

AE: You’re an eight-year overnight sensation. What’s next for you? Do you want your own show, a movie, or something else?
FF:
I want to do a lot of things. I’m in the process of working on a scripted show with some guys. It would be an ensemble thing, so I’m hopeful about that and where it’s going.  And one day, if Chelsea ever goes away, I do want to do TV and movies, both acting and writing. And a little standup because I love touring. I also want to write a book.

AE: Like a Bossypants-style book, or a Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, book?
FF:
I’m not at a point in my life where anyone wants to hear my biography. [Laughs] Nor does anyone care to hear that stuff except my mom, and she’d just want to know if I’m talking bad about her. It would be more like a series of funny experiences and stories.

AE: What would be the first sentence in your memoir?
FF:
“Her name was Fortune, and boy, was she lucky.” That would be the worst book, ever.

AE: Maybe you could start with a quote from your mother? What’s the one thing she said to you all the time?
FF:
My mom always said, “Happy day,” whenever we went to school or she had to write a birthday card. Not, “Have a happy day.” Just, “Happy day.” Not to be confused with Happy Days. But for the most part, I think I have had happy days.

AE: I bet you were a happy baby…
FF:
I was raised by an old lady, my Grandma.  So I hung out with old people all the time. I used prance around at tea parties, reciting the “Star-Spangled Banner,” as a means of entertaining of the ladies while they played bridge. I was like a little Shirley Temple. A little fat Shirley Temple. I had ringlets in my hair, dresses, bonnets.

AE: Please find a picture of little you, and I will insert it right here.
FF:
[Laughs] I don’t think the ladies could handle that. That was when I peaked. I peaked at five-years-old. It all went downhill since then.

AE: Yeah, OK. I’ve seen ladies stare at you, all star-struck. They want to get close to the Fortune.
FF:
If they want to get close to me, I don’t see that. My friends are always saying, “That person was checking you out.” And I’m like, “What?”

AE: I think Jennifer Aniston has a crush on you.
FF:
I’m not going to deny that, by any means. The lady has got impeccable taste. [Laughs.]

AE: How did you get to know her?
FF:
They wrote a really funny episode and Jennifer Aniston agreed to do it. It was so cool being at the writers’ table with her and getting to act with her. And I sat beside her at Chelsea’s house for Thanksgiving. It was pretty awesome.

AE: Who did you have to push off their chair to score that sweet spot?
FF:
It happened by accident. Everyone sat down at the table, but everyone was too nervous to sit next to her. There was one empty seat left by the time I got my plate. I braced myself and sat down. And the whole table gave me a round of applause. I did it. I sat down.

AE: She’s the lucky one.
FF:
Now she knows who I am. I don’t know if she knows my name but…

AE: Is she even more beautiful in person?
FF:
Oh my God, just stunning. And also, just really nice. To me, that makes someone even more beautiful. If someone is nasty inside, I’m like, “No thank you.”

AE: You’re one of the nicest people I know. I’m glad we’re friends.
FF:
I love our friends. I think if you’ve made it to the top and you don’t have anybody to share it with, you’re not really on the top, are you? It’s very lonely. I’ve been out here for a while, and I’ve seen people make it, or at least their version of making it: they got on a TV show or got a really great job. But they left their friends by the wayside and found it a very lonely place to be.

So I don’t want that. I want my buddies around, always, no matter what. Plus, who else am I going to break dance with? Or do the robot with? [Starts doing the robot] Look at these moves!

 

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