Fortune Feimster plays two nights at Atlanta’s Center Stage Dec. 11-12

Fortune Feimster / Photo by Matt Misisco
caption arrowCaption
Fortune Feimster / Photo by Matt Misisco

Credit: Matt Misisco

Credit: Matt Misisco

They say the secret of comedy is timing, and Fortune Feimster’s could not have been worse.

In early 2020, her Netflix comedy special “Sweet and Salty” had just debuted. Riding an increasing buzz as a fierce and frank lesbian storyteller, she was launching a national tour of mid-sized comedy venues. Then the pandemic crashed everything.

Or, maybe, ultimately the timing worked out. She now has sufficient name recognition that she added two shows to her gig this weekend at Atlanta’s Center Stage, for a total of four. Some local fans have been holding on to tickets for almost two years.

“It’s pretty trippy,” the 41-year-old comic and actress said in a recent telephone interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about being back on the road. “Every theater has different (COVID-19) protocols and states have different mandates and we follow them and do whatever it takes.”

“We were just so happy to get back at it. And people are just so happy to be laughing again.”

Her Atlanta shows will be comprised of all-new material, with none of the stories from the Netflix special. That means she won’t talk about how her family took her to Hooters to celebrate her birthdays as a teenager, or how she found herself at 12 years old, overweight and crammed into a way-too-small swimsuit, about to compete in a school swim meet even though she could not swim.

Hardcore fans now greet her at shows with homemade T-shirts that say “Swim Team” or “Hooters.”

“I think ‘Should I be telling jokes from that?’ she said. “But I have a whole new act.”

Feimster (which rhymes with “Teamster;” Fortune was her great-grandmother’s maiden name) grew up in Belmont, North Carolina, and went to Peace College, then a women’s college, but portrays herself in her Netflix special as so naïve she did not realize that she was a lesbian until she was in her 20s.

“It turns out representation matters,” she says in the special. And now she represents in a major way.

“Being a visible, out person, I clearly needed that when I was growing up and didn’t have it,” she said. “If that helps anyone come to terms with who they are or it helps parents understand their kids, that means so much.

“I’ve had people come out to me who’ve never come out to anyone before. That’s mind-blowing. I’ve had parents who’ve said it was really hard for me when my child came out and you made me feel better about it, they’re gonna be OK.

“A girl wrote me during the pandemic and said, ‘I was really scared to come out and I sat my parents down and said, let’s watch this special on Netflix and they were laughing, so I knew it was OK to tell them I was gay.’ It’s so powerful and so beautiful.”

Her shows have always drawn women and members of the gay community, of course, “but what’s really blown me away on this tour is how the Netflix show reached so many different people and backgrounds and age groups,” she said.

“I have 12-year-olds showing up with their parents, that’s new to me. There’s actually a lot of straight folks that come. Couples for date night. I have empty nesters who saw me on ‘Life in Pieces’,” a CBS sitcom where she played an obnoxious, sexually ambiguous character named Dougie.

She also has a supporting role in “Kenan,” the NBC sitcom starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Kenan Thompson, about a fictional TV morning news show in Atlanta.

Even though she moved from North Carolina to Los Angeles 18 years ago to pursue comedy and acting, her Southern accent still flits in and out when she talks. She can nail the right SEC reference (“I have a special place in my heart for the Georgia Bulldogs”), drop her g’s, and mosey with the best of them.

Asked about the difference between her brash onstage persona and the real Fortune, she said: “As a comic I’m a little bolder. I go out there guns a-blazing, not thinking twice, making people laugh.

“In normal life, I’m a little more laid back, easy goin’. I mosey. You know, that Southern part of me that likes to mosey.”


IF YOU GO

Fortune Feimster: “2 Sweet 2 Salty”

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Dec. 11 and 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 12. $27.50 - $33.50. Center Stage, 1374 West Peachtree St NW, Atlanta. centerstage-atlanta.com/