The Daily Stream: Fortune Feimster's Sweet & Salty Is Your Happy Escape From The Hell We're Living In

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Special: "Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty"

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: Southern-born Fortune Feimster first broke into the mainstream scene on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," and successfully sparked a career as a comedian, writer, and actor. More than likely, you recognize her as Colette from "The Mindy Project," hosting "What a Joke" on Sirius XM's channel Netflix is a Joke, plenty of cameo roles in some of the best comedies of the last 10 years, like as Pinky in "Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar." In 2020, Feimster was finally given her first (seriously overdue) hour-long televised special, "Sweet & Salty," and I find myself returning to her special again and again, immediately transported to a much happier reality filled with visits to Chili's chain restaurants after church, binging on Fun Dip and nachos before swim meets, debutante classes, and realizing you might be a lesbian in the middle of a Hooters.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Comedy is one of the most subjective art forms, but Fortune Feimster is impossible not to love. She's not a "clean" comedian by any means, but she's also not one that leads with mean-spirited takedowns or cruelty for the sake of comedy. "Sweet & Salty" is a comedy special as much as it is a comedy memoir and the story of Feimster's self-discovery as a lesbian. There are great moments of self-deprecation that all feel rooted in admiration for her younger self, and plenty of imitations of her equally southern mother, who introduces her to the stage at the start of the special. There's such a charm in Feimster's willingness to provide an introspective look at how she got to where she is now, and there's joy in poking fun at how absurd her upbringing truly was. 

She jokes about being mistaken for Ham Porter in "The Sandlot" and quoting "You're killing me, Smalls" at strangers so they don't feel disappointed that she's not actually Patrick Renna. She pokes fun at her family's insistence that she join the swim team as a chubby 12-year-old, despite the fact she'd never expressed any interest in swimming, ever. As an extremely visibly queer person, she frequently points out how painfully obvious her budding lesbianism was, treating her own inability to see what was right in front of her face as the punchline, and does it all with a genuine sense of love for who she is.

Feimster Is A Gifted Storyteller

While there are plenty of great one-liners thrown in throughout the special, her comedy truly shines when she's able to set up her jokes narratively and paint the world for us. We can see the entire debutante ball she attended as a child, we can picture her wearing business casual power suits with elbow pads when her mom wanted her to look like a classier young lady, and in the best moment of the special, when she's describing what it was like to celebrate her 18th birthday at Hooters surrounded by beautiful women before she knew what her feelings toward them really meant ... aka "The Gay Salem Witch Trials."

As a Southerner, Feimster has no qualms talking about what it was like growing up in a religious household with a mother constantly dating conservative, deeply religious men, but never paints it with a traumatic brush, instead reveling in the hilarity of hypocrisy. She was also a fat kid growing up, and rather than feel a sense of shame about it, speaks with the confidence of loving her former fat kid self the same way Jack Black does in "School of Rock." We get the impression that Feimster's past may not perfectly align with who she is now, but her way of coping with it all has been with humor. She effortlessly embodies imitations of herself, her family, and those who got her to where she is and never once do her imitations feel like mockery.

Fortune Feimster Becomes The Representation She Needed

In the last fifth of her special, Feimster discloses that she skipped the "in the closet" phase of her identity discovery, not realizing what her friends and brothers had already assumed until her 20s. Feimster grew up in an era where the LGBTQIA+ representation was non-existent at best and problematic as hell at worst, but she finally figured out her truth while watching the Lifetime movie "The Truth About Jane" with Stockard Channing and Ellen Muth. She jokes that for as much as conservatives like to scream that "letting your kids watch gay content will turn them gay," she might have ended up being an unhappy housewife married to some guy named Tim had she not watched a Lifetime movie.

Now, as one of the most recognizable queer women working in the industry, we witness the former tomboy come to the realization that by having this stand-up special and by continuing to follow her dreams, she has become the visibility for others that she wished she had in her younger years. It could have helped her understand her weird obsession with helping her friends apply lotion in college or her unfounded hatred of every boyfriend her friends would date, but no matter what, she's trying, and that's something to be proud of.