This story about Amy Sedaris first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Amy Sedaris has long reigned in the cult comedy space, thanks to oddball characters in straightforward rom-coms (“Maid in Manhattan”) or delirious streaming work (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”). And, of course, her star-making turn in the Comedy Central deep cut “Strangers With Candy.”
But, in recent years, Sedaris has been pumping out work that borders on performance art by playing a domestic guru by way of the “The Twilight Zone.” This is manifested in two books (“Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People” and “I Like You: Entertaining Under the Influence”), and has now earned the comedian an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series for her TruTV series, “At Home With Amy Sedaris.”
Working with her co-writer and longtime collaborator Paul Dinello, Sedaris plays a heightened version of herself and numerous other characters (a wine vendor, a hobo) as she executes strange crafts like placemats made of coins secured in packing tape and peanut shells adorned with googly eyes.
“We started off thinking of it as more earnest, but whenever I tried, Paul would make fun of me and we would laugh,” she said.
Sedaris studied mainstream lifestyle hosts like Martha Stewart and Ina Garten (“Flatfoot Contessa,” she called her), but was heavily influenced by programs from decades ago.
“All my references are from the ’60s and ’70s,” she said. “Like Julia Child, Mr. Rogers, Lawrence Welk, Red Skelton … I love that mundane talking, explaining what you’re doing with all these extra words you don’t need.”
She is not immune to the pressure of the digital age, however: A 45-minute Julia Child chocolate cake tutorial doesn’t play big with the BuzzFeed Tasty crowd.
“I’m on Instagram, that’s all I do,” she said. “I’m more of a curator there, but TruTV is pretty cool, and I don’t have to do a lot of stuff. My attitude is now, ‘Let’s catch it on set.’ If I’m in the moment, I’m cool with it, but don’t bother me when the show is down. I’m not crafting on a Saturday.”
To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire issue, click here.