At home with Amy Sedaris premieres on truTV October 24 at 10:30pm.
Finally admitted onto the set of Amy Sedaris’ new tv show, At Home with Amy Sedaris, I climbed over random cables and through gatherings of those fancy director’s chairs, yet I couldn’t even see her. But the TVphile and comedy fan that I am recognized that voice within seconds. I already knew who it’d be, but still: the voice of Kimmy Schmidt’s Mimi Kanasis, BoJack Horseman’s Princess Carolyn, and, of course, the one and only Jerri Blank — it’s unmistakable. Sedaris came into view, currently incarnated as a hobo as evidenced by her burlap clothes and dirt covered face. Amy-as-a-hobo gave a stand-in (who would be Amy-as-herself in the show) a tour of an intricately designed shack featuring lovely hobo style-cherry blossoms, which is simply popcorn glued to a stick, and other such hobo-inspired decor.
Sedaris came into view, currently incarnated as a hobo as evidenced by her burlap clothes and dirt covered face. Amy-as-a-hobo gave a stand-in (who would be Amy-as-herself in the show) a tour of an intricately designed shack featuring lovely hobo style-cherry blossoms, which is simply popcorn glued to a stick, and other such hobo-inspired decor. While I was easily into my third cup of coffee from the on-set, man-bunned barista and yet still struggling to keep my eyes open at this rather early call time, Sedaris was firing on all cylinders: doing take after take after take of the hobo’s house tour, complete with a little but hilarious ditty about her foot fetish with an accompanying jig. The teleprompter displayed the script, yet Sedaris hardly followed it.
“Yeah, yeah, I go off cuff a lot,” she said later, with a casual charm.
For some, a “hospitality show” might seem like an odd choice for an incredibly accomplished and still-working comedian and actress like Amy Sedaris. But actually, it’s no stretch for her. Pitching the show, Sedaris said that she really “didn’t know what the show was,” but the good people at TruTV simply picked up the show anyway. “I had my two books in front of them so they could see what it was visually going to look like… but they were really cool letting us figure out what it was that I wanted to do,” she said. The books she was referring to, of course, were her two best-sellers, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (thoroughly enjoyable reads even for the misanthropes who have no interest in entertaining and maladroit oafs who have no hopes of crafting).
But despite being a lovely guest on Martha Stewart, simply recreating a show like Martha’s would be, as perfectly stated by Sedaris herself, a complete “snooze-a-rooze.” As “it’s hard to marry comedy with something real, because you want to laugh but then you get dragged down with something serious,” Sedaris and company quickly decided “to make it a narrative and go fully comedy with it, because you can learn how to make a meatloaf” somewhere else.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t see some serious cooking and crafting going on, just not what you’d expect from Martha and the like. As Amy told us, “Yesterday I made a Baked Alaska that totally didn’t turn out – it was glorious how it didn’t turn out, and I’m just like, ‘As you can see: look at those beautiful golden peaks!’ And it’s like, ‘No, you liar, it’s melting. It looks horrible and the insides look like they’ll fall down!’” But she’s certainly going to sell it as if she’s knocking the Martha Stewarts of the world down a peg.
And the set itself reflects Amy Sedaris’ real-life skills in hospitality. They set was essentially a rendering of her own home, except with a much bigger craft room, she was sure to note. In fact, the set designers came to her home, took pictures, and then surprised her with their ability to capture her aesthetic as well as small details that she’d never imagined they’d notice. Open up the fridge and it’s filled with your typical refrigerator fare, except each product has a portrait of Amy’s face – a portrait done of Amy in 3rd grade by her sister, Gretchen, at the time in 5th grade. The entire set is filled with copies of the artwork she hangs in her own house, including pictures of her brother (ahem, author David Sedaris) and paintings done by her sister.
According to Sedaris, her style is “eclectic,” but importantly, she wants everything “to look like it comes alive at night” when she goes to bed, and even “a dustpan’s got to have a personality” and dance while she’s sleeping. This extreme attention to detail and careful effort to personalize every aspect of the set is key in capturing Amy’s vision for the show: a comedic narrative that encapsulates her very real passion for all things domestic.
In the show, Amy will play a number of characters, including the hobo with a foot fetish performance that I witnessed, but it will also feature a ton of guests. The first teaser released had Amy’s Kimmy Schmidt co-star Jane Krakowski singing along with Amy about various types of adhesives and their proper uses, and viewers will also see comedians and comedic actors like Nick Kroll, Chris Elliott, Darrell Hammond, and Scott Adsit. And then somehow, serious actor types like Paul Giamatti and David Costabile make appearances, too. Sedaris’ Strangers with Candy costar and longtime collaborator Paul Dinello did the majority of the writing for the show, so it’s sure to be pretty amazing.
And that this all works is likely due to the fact that, in her words, “I’ve been doing this show in my head for years. It will be terrific to get it on TV so I can free up some wiggle room up in my skull.” And if Snoop and Martha can make it work, surely Amy Sedaris can.