Arguably, "At Home With Amy Sedaris" was inevitable for the former star of "Strangers With Candy." The half-earnest parody of low-budget cooking/crafting shows, in which Sedaris plays … well, herself, is the latest in a line of related efforts, from her "Book of Liz" play (co-written with brother/author David Sedaris), which centered on a "nice smoky cheese ball"; to her now-shuttered cupcake and cheese-ball home business.
These days, Sedaris' biggest project is the crafting of "At Home's" Season 2, but she took an iced cappuccino break at New York City's ABC Carpet & Home with the Envelope's Randee Dawn to talk about the joys of packing tape and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Where did the concept for "At Home" come from?
When I was younger, there was a local hospitality show in Raleigh, N.C., "At Home With Peggy Mann," and it was like playing house: This woman lived on the set and made it seem like her own home. She talked very slow, very Southern, very boring. But you couldn't take your eyes off it.
How did your show end up on TruTV?
Just a surprise. What I liked about Tru was it was a neutral station; if it's funny, that's a bonus. Then they turned into a comedy channel, and it was like, "Oh, we have to make this funny now." I like things that are funny, with not a lot of jokes. I'm more about character; Paul [Dinello, longtime collaborator and co-creator of "At Home"] is more of a joke person.
So wait, you were going to play it straight?
That's what I thought, but that gets boring when you come from comedy. Anyway, it would have been funny regardless because I have the energy of crafting and I love to cook — but my stuff never looks like professionals' stuff. I like getting laughs when I'm not really going for the laugh.
But come on, penny bookmarks?
You use it. It really does work, because it weights down a cookbook or a Bible. But it's hard to line those pennies up [between two swatches of packing tape]. It's a real craft. Everything in my house is covered with tape. Everything looks better when it's covered in packing tape.
I like crafting, but I never have the right supplies.
I know. And you have to be high at 2 in the morning to want to do it.
You and Paul had been baking this show for a long time, right?
Since "Strangers With Candy." We decided to do the books [“Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People” and “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence”] first — anything to put the project off. I love to work on ideas without having to actually do them.
But my sister Tiffany had just passed away, and I was grieving with that, and with my therapist's help I was able to finally get it off the ground. I had the books in front of me when I pitched so people could see what it would be like. So many people never "get" it. It's too weird for them.
Do you ever miss "Strangers"? Everybody's rebooting TV shows these days.
It's nice to know we won't do it again. [Stephen] Colbert is on to other stuff, and Paul and me — it's done. Plus, to do Jerri, I can do the face, but it's about the attitude. I don't know if I could play her like I used to. But you do get tight skin from doing characters. All the muscles in my face are very firm.
What's your writers' room like? Do you make an active effort to bring in women?
We have a lot of women on the show, but our writers' room is really small, just me and Paul. Usually my thing is, I want homosexuals on the set. I'm surrounded by gay people; why aren't they on the show right now? I like to be with gay guys. They seem to really get me.
Where do you go next with "At Home"? HGTV shows seem ripe for parody.
I don't watch those shows; my influences are Ernie Kovacs, Julia Child, even PTL — Tammy Faye Bakker was a very big character for me. When I saw her, I was obsessed. She would make horrible food, and I was like — I love the idea of bad ideas, and selling at 100%. Who would eat that stuff?