10 COMICS TO WATCH: 'Chelsea Lately' writer leaves show for role as R.A. in Tina Fey pilot
After 11 years living in Los Angeles, Fortune Feimster still hasn’t been able to shake her North Carolina accent. That twang, plus a brash, unafraid-to-be-silly attitude that suggests a female Chris Farley, made for some pretty agonizing auditions early on, including two near-miss “Saturday Night Live” tests.
“I’m not your typical woman comic,” admits Feimster, who studied improv with the Groundlings for several years before joining their Sunday Company. “I never wanted my size or my accent or my sexuality to define me. I wanted to take what I had and do things you wouldn’t expect I’d be able to do.”
The unconventional comic credits Chelsea Handler with looking past things that seemed to trip up other casting agents. “She just got it,” Feimster says. “The nice thing about Chelsea is that she puts people on TV that maybe other people wouldn’t give a chance to. All of a sudden, what made me different was a positive.”
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Feimster spent three years on the “Chelsea Lately” writing staff, serving as a roundtable panelist and participating in sketches. “During the whole Paula Deen thing, I would play her, or they would put me in a leotard and I would do a ribbon dance,” she says.
She was planning to stick around for one last year when she learned that Tina Fey personally wanted her to read for her Fox sitcom “Cabot College” — at last, an audition that may as well have been written for her.
“It fit me like a glove,” she says. “The character is a lesbian (described as) more confident than she would appear. I also happen to have gone to a women’s college, where I was an R.A. The coincidences are very trippy.”
INFLUENCES: Carol Burnett and “Saturday Night Live” vets Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon
REPS: Agency: Gersh Manager: Truhett/Garcia Management