by Chris Harnick | Mon., Oct. 23, 2017 10:00 AM
Amy Sedaris just wants to entertain you.
The chameleon actress and writer, best known for Strangers With Candy, the Comedy Central series she starred in and co-created, BoJack Horseman, and guest roles on shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Broad City, is returning to TV with her own show, At Home With Amy Sedaris. It's a delightfully wacky lifestyle truTV series where she makes things like potato ships and does Angela Lansbury's morning movement routine. Why? Why not!
Sedaris' Instagram feed, where she admittedly posts a lot, is full of kitschy crafts and things about her pet rabbit. It's a good indication of the type of crafts and kookiness you'll find on At Home With Amy Sedaris, right down to having a bunny hutch on set. In real life, Sedaris is on her third pet rabbit.
"They're a perfect pet for me. They're quiet, they're little, they're just—what's cuter than a rabbit cleaning themselves or going boing, boing, boing?! I still get amazed by the floorshow that she'll give me, just run down the hallway and jump up and spin around. You're like Aunt Clara on Bewitched—'Did I see what I think I saw?' You can't even believe it," she said.
The same could be said for viewers who tune in to see Sedaris bounce around her meticulously built and colorful set. This new series is a childhood dream come true for Sedaris, who grew up watching local productions like At Home With Peggy Mann. While Sedaris said that show was "really boring," Peggy Mann's accent and the production values (or lack thereof) really struck a chord with her.
"I always wanted to do that," Sedaris said.
She credits growing up and watching shows like Julia Child, Galloping Gourmet and Frugal Gourmet, Ernie Kovacs "with his funny, little surreal bits," Lawrence Welk and Tammy Faye Bakker on The PTL Club, "when she had her cooking segments" as other inspirations.
"It was just all that stuff, and growing up with Girl Scouts and Junior Achievement and a large family that crafted and cooked," she told E! News during a recent interview in New York City. "It was just in my bones."
Each week the 10-episode series features a theme, such as "the craft of love making" and "entertaining businessmen." Guests stop by, sometimes in character, few as themselves, to aid in the specific theme. There are lifestyle and entertaining tips, sure, but Sedaris is there purely for fun.
"I just hope people are entertained by it. Good old fashioned entertainment is what I'm going for," she said. "Just being entertained and having these amazing actors come on and play these stupid characters and experts, and how beautiful the set is and how it all took so much skill and talent. There isn't anything on this set that was just like, phoned in. You know what I mean? I think that's pretty impressive."
"Yeah, he plays a gay astronaut. It kind of happened in the middle of shooting, I was like, ‘You're gay,' ‘cause he started singing this song and we were like, ‘We got to put that in!' So we put it in and that kind of made him gay," Sedaris said.
Theroux and Sedaris met in 2000 through mutual friend Philip Seymour Hoffman and they became "fast friends" and "just clicked in a way." Theroux was a big fan of Strangers With Candy, Sedaris said, and their energy levels just matched.
"We live around the corner from each other. I had a few craft clubs and he was in them. And then there were some craft clubs that I would not allow him in. I'd tell my doorman, ‘Do not let this guy upstairs.' Sure enough, ‘Beep!' And I'm like, ‘How did you get up?!' He's just—he's funny that way. He's a good actor and he's funny," she said about their enduring friendship.
Having guest stars like Theroux, Christopher Meloni and Rachel Dratch come to her show to play with her was a role reversal.
"It was fun to watch other people, because I'm usually the guest star on shows, so it was fun being on the other side of that and watching people be a guest star on my show," Sedaris said.
While she is primarily playing herself, the Amy Sedaris of At Home With Amy Sedaris, the wild characters that have become synonymous with Sedaris are there, including a hobo, Patty Hogg, a Southern woman, and even a little Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy. "I go in and out of Jerri on the show all the time. It's just all the time," she said. These characters have been traveling with Sedaris for some time, from plays with her brother, author David Sedaris, to childhood beach house vacations, which David has often chronicled in his books.
"Well, some of them I've been dragging around forever—the girl who tapes her nose up, I've put her in all the plays David and I did together. I've been doing her since I was six. Everyone tapes their nose up. We had put her in the show. And Patty Hogg is a Southern woman. She's from a seed dynasty and that's every Southern woman I've ever met living in North Carolina, just crammed into one character. I don't think I've ever done her on TV before, but I do her at home, when I'm with my family," Sedaris said, transitioning to an exaggerated Southern accent. "I give fake ghost tours on the island, you know the [beach house], and I do a Patty Hogg type character."
The hobo is also a childhood creation. She was a hobo "like every year for Halloween" as a child.
"I love hobos. I'm doing my little brother when I do the hobo, so I'm just channeling him. I don't know if I do any other characters, but I prefer doing characters," she said. "When I did the show, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I don't want to play myself. I'm so boring.' If I'm going to be in the makeup chair, I want to look ugly when I get out of that chair. I don't want to look like—trying to be beautiful or whatever, so this was a good mix. I was able to do both."
Those characters just live inside of Sedaris for the most part. There's no guide to Amy Sedaris characters.
"Sometimes I keep notes of little things, or sometimes it just comes alive. We didn't shoot this in front of an audience, but I bet it would be different if we did," she said. "Usually for the character, you just kind of think about it all you want and then it physically comes together when there's a live audience and you're just in the moment. That feels really good to me."
Amy Sedaris, always the entertainer.
At Home With Amy Sedaris premieres Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 10:30 p.m. on truTV.
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