Tag Archives: Comedy Central

A Chat With Funny Fortune Feimster, Beck/Smith Hollywood Alumna

 

Fortune Feimster green cardiganby Stacy Jenel Smith

Before Fortune Feimster became a rising late night star as part of Chelsea Handler’s motley troupe on “Chelsea Lately“… before she taped her June 27 midnight “Half Hour” special for Comedy Central…before Fortune hosted the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in NY… before she became a hot ticket on the comedy club circuit…before Tina Fey hand-picked her for a starring role in the highly-buzzed mid season comedy for Fox, “Cabot College” — before all that, she was part of another veritable carnival of fun, the Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive team, a.k.a., a “Beck-ette.”

Stacy and Fortune en route to press room at 2009 Academy Awards

Stacy and Fortune, 2009 Academy Awards

Yes, for more than five years, Emily Fortune Feimster toiled as an entertainment journalist, even as she was sharpening her comedy skills in off hours, doing stand-up at the L.A. Comedy Store and improv with The Groundlings. That’s why I can tell you a couple of things about Fortune that other people don’t know. For instance, there’s even more talent there than viewers have had a chance to see as yet. I have witnessed her pull off hilarious musical improv (yes, she has a voice) and pitch-perfect drama onstage. And don’t let that Mayberry accent, the generous integumental upholstery and stubbornly untamed hairdo fool you. The North Carolina native is a world-wise sophisticate, and super smart. She has a great big heart. Viewers will learn more by watching her stand-up special come the 27th. In the meantime, here’s what went down when the tables were turned on this former interviewer:

Q:  You’re a woman who is not afraid to put on a too-small Hooters outfit and wear it with pride. What pops into your head when you think of your gutsiest moment as a performer so far?

A:  On ‘Chelsea Lately,’ I started doing this ribbon dance, where they put me in a leotard and whenever we didn’t really have a topic and we were really busy, they’d be like, ‘Hey, Fortune. Go do a ribbon dance.’  And I would throw on this tiny, tiny leotard and run out on stage and dance for like 30 seconds in this ridiculous outfit. I would have to say that is probably my ballsiest move, because, as we know, my body is not built for leotards.

Q:  Have you always been so fearless?

A:  I’ve had moments of it. I was really shy growing up. It’s like, every now and then I would really surprise my friends and family. There was like this band playing at the beach when I was about 10, and all of a sudden I just got onstage and started dancing. And my family is like, ‘What?!’

Q:  Three of your most memorable characters on “Chelsea Lately” have been Rachel Zoe, Honey Boo Boo and her mom. Have you met any of them?

fortune as boo booA:  No. I actually really like Rachel Zoe. I really liked that show a lot. I thought it was hysterical how she abbreviated everything and was so dramatic. We invited Honey Boo Boo and her mom to come on ‘Chelsea,’ and they had seen my impression and didn’t care for it, so they said, ‘No, thank you.’

Q:  You mean, the thing about selling her neck gravy did not go over?

A:  She did not care for the neck gravy.

Q:  Who is the best celebrity to make fun of?

A:  Chelsea is the one who makes fun of everybody. I like to think I’m a little bit nicer, because I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We used to make fun of Lindsay Lohan and then she hosted the show and was really cool, so now I’m like, ‘She’s nice. I don’t want to make fun of her.’

Q:  What is your favorite item in your wardrobe right now and why?

A:  I have a denim shirt, a button-up shirt that I’ve been wearing a lot lately, and I usually wear it with denim jeans because I’m just really into the Canadian tuxedo look at the moment.

Q:  You’re moving on from “Chelsea Lately” — which is now marked for an August 26 finale show — to take on this new Tina Fey series at Fox. What is the status of “Cabot College”?  Will we see it in midseason?

A:  They’re still negotiating, and I don’t quite know what the holdup is, but hopefully we’ll know something by the end of the month.

Q:  Your character is very sunny and outgoing — and an out lesbian. Out and outgoing, and it’s all good. Tell me about her.

A:  My character is very boisterous and kind of the party girl and she makes no apologies for who she is. It’s a nice role because it’s not too far of a stretch for myself, and I get to pop up in scenes and do something ridiculous and get a laugh and leave. It’s pretty great.

Q:  Would you like to marry one day?

A:   I think so. It’s not something that I’ve really put a lot of stock into up to this point because I’ve been so busy trying to get my career off the ground. But I’m finally getting to the point where I think that would be nice, because you can have all the success in the world but if you don’t have someone to share it with, well, I just think it would be better to have that kind of partner and that support.

Q:  Have you had any encounters with fans, younger people who look up to you perhaps, who you were able to give a little encouragement?

A:  I’ve had a number of people coming up to me, younger people telling me that. One girl told me that she was gay and she’d never told anyone before. The fact that she chose me to tell was like such an honor because I’ll be part of her coming out story for the rest of her life. That’s a big moment. I’ve had people tell me they appreciate what I do because it makes it okay to be gay. I’ve had parents come up to me and tell me they lost a child, and they came to my show and it was the first time they had laughed in months. It’s pretty amazing, but that’s the power of laughter. Sometimes my job seems so silly — Oh, I’m putting on this ridiculous outfit and running around like a moron — sometimes you just forget it can have that effect on people.

Note:  After publication of this story, Fortune Feimster was named to Variety’s list of 10 Comics to Watch in 2014.  As the trade publication reports:

Selected by a team of Variety editors based on extensive polling of the professional comedy community — those who scout, book, represent, produce and cast comics on a daily basis — the group will be profiled in the July 22 issue of Variety and honored with a cocktail party and panel July 24 and 25 at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.

Comic John Pinette: They’re Food Jokes, Not Weight Jokes

John Pinette

The very funny funnyman John Pinette, whose “Still Hungry” special has its Comedy Central premiere tonight (7/29), is about to take a month off the road from his normal hectic itinerary of standup dates.  He’ll get “back on some kind of schedule” and have a chance to get in better shape as well, he lets us know.   Rotund as he is, “I don’t want to glorify being heavy,” he insists.  “I laugh about it, or talk about it as I would any trial or tribulation in life.”

But weight-related jokes are his stock in trade.  Aren’t those on the un-PC list nowadays?

“I would say the weight jokes are really more like food-oriented jokes,” Pinette differentiates.  “I did ‘Show Me the Buffet’ in ’98.  Now we have three shows on about cake, and 14 stars out there that — they make food, and that’s all they do.  I actually prefer to think about it as I was ahead of the curve.”

He also notes, “The parameters of what makes people laugh, you could drive a 747 through.  There’s room for all kinds of comedy.  I try to be a little bit cleaner than some, a little bit more family-oriented.  I’m not St. Francis up there, but I try to have some respect where maybe you can bring your kids, and Grandma won’t go screaming out of the room.”

‘Mike & Molly’ Success = New Life for Billy Gardell

“Mike & Molly” star Billy Gardell shows off his standup chops with his own Comedy Central special Feb. 5, a show he tells us was 20 years in the making.  That’s 20 years as in acquiring skills, 20 years of being out on the road, 20 years of collecting tales of comedy calamities.

“I’ve been chased in my car a couple of times.  Police asked me to leave the county a couple of times.  I’ve done my act when nobody was there, and when people were there and didn’t listen,” he recalls.  “And then are the nights when you kill it.”

Gardell is still doing standup, but his gigs are far different with the  success of his CBS series.  “The same jokes are now $10 more,” he dead pans.   “It’s a beautiful thing when you do standup all those years, to have a monster show.  It puts you in front of a whole new audience.”

The personable funny man has been gratified, he says, to find fellow comics first to cheer him on.  “We live in a world where if you win a contest you can be a celebrity.  People are very supportive when they see a guy who has actually done the time out there making it.  I’ve really felt that support from the  standup community,” he tells us.

Most important, he now has a whole different kind of homelife — being able to remain in town with wife Patty, and their two-year-old son, Will.  “I think my wife is regretting it, but the kid’s happy,” he jokes.

“No, we’re doing great.  It’s nice, you know, to go to work and then be able to come home to my family.  The boy loves it.  We play army men and Legos, watch cartoons, go out to the car and check the oil — do things a dad and son should do.”

He’d love his TV alter ego to have such familial bliss — but not for at least a couple of years.  “I would like to see it work out for Mike and Molly eventually, for them to have a big wedding and a baby.  But first I want to see them struggle, because that’s where the real comedy is,” says Gardell.

The rotund comic, who last fall stood up to a magazine blogger who declared her aversion to watching fat people in love on TV, believes that “Mike & Molly’s” strength lies in its character’s flaws.  “There’s not a bunch of beautiful people running around having things work out on our show,” he says, adding that such an everyday people’s sitcom hasn’t been around for awhile.  “Not since ‘Roseanne.’  And it’s not just me and Melissa (McCarthy).  Yeah, these are people who met at Overeaters Anonymous, and they have their issues, but there’s also the sister who is a hot mess (Katie Mixon), the best friend who gives bad advice (Reno Wilson) and the mother (Swoosie Kurtz), who has her own problems.”

Gardell says he is so happy, “I skip to work.  I think that’s the difference between getting [success] in your 40s and your twenties.  At my age, it’s like, ‘Wow!  I got a job and free coffee, too!’  I’m so proud of the show.  We’ve got three people who are over 40 with kids and spouses, and the attitude on the set is, ‘Hey, let’s be humble and thankful and work really hard.  I try remind everybody, eventually this is all going to come to an end, so make the most of it while it’s here.”

Comic Doug Benson Likes To Break The Mold and Be ‘Fawkward’

Doug Benson Comedy Central photo

Comic Doug Benson likes the idea of breaking the mold and “doing standup comedy in a different way” – a fact he makes clear in his “The Benson Interruption” show that launches on Comedy Central Nov.  5 at midnight.

The show captures Doug interrupting other comedians in the middle of their acts, a bit he’s been doing live at comedy clubs for a while.  Benson pals Adam Carolla, Nick Swardson, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Thomas Lennon, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Eugene Mirman are aboard for the initial six episodes.  Explains Doug, “When you put comics together in front of an audience, you just say ‘Go.’  It becomes about who is the alpha comic.

“It’s a cross between fun and awkward.  If you smash those together, you get ‘fawkward,’ a new thing, a word that goes over the title of the show and lets people know, it’ s not all going to go smoothly.”

Benson has certainly ventured into “fawkward” territory before.   One of his comedy bits that gained an oddball popularity had him calling actor Willem Dafoe a $#!@-head for no good reason.   Fans made t-shirts.  “It could be terribly unsettling, even for a well-known actor, what I did,” he acknowledges.  Doug quit doing the bit.  He says he’s never met Dafoe, and guesses “he’s blissfully unaware of what I was doing.  if I did meet him, I would just have to explain to an extremely scary-looking man that he’s a fine actor who’s been in a lot of downright successful or peculiar movies and no one would say that about him.  That’s why I called him a $#@-head.”

Maybe you had to be there.