Amy Sedaris brings humor to DIY crafts (Interview)

Seated at a long table of judges Amy Sedaris eats cookie after cookie and writes down her thoughts on a sheet attached to the clipboard. She is the special guest judge of an annual cookie bake-off at the Lower East Side Girls Club, a community center that operates full-service arts, science, and civic engagement programs in lower Manhattan.

This is not the first time female comedians have come out to help the Girls Club. Just earlier this month, the team behind The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel donated the funds from their Carnegie Deli themed popup to the program. But Sedaris seems to seamlessly blend into the brightly colored walls of the clubhouse. Interviewing her in the sewing room on an upper floor of the spacious facility, Sedaris plays with a ribbon attached to a pot holder she bought as part of a fundraiser happening downstairs. She affixes the gift ribbon to her keys as she speaks.

Photo courtesy of the Lower East Side Girls Club

Sedaris looks perfectly at home surrounded by half-made dresses and scraps of fabric. Sedaris hosts her own show, At Home with Amy Sedaris on TruTV. Its second season premieres February 19 next year. The show is reminiscent of her two books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People! Both her books and show take a comical—and at times absurdist—approach to crafting, entertaining, and homemaking. At Home features a who’s who of comedian cameos, notably Stephen Colbert and co-creator Paul Dinello, both of whom worked on Sedaris’s first two forays into TV: Exit 57 and cult hit Strangers with Candy.

Since 2000, Sedaris has been in everything from a Dolly Parton music video to narrating the PBS special Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, a six-hour documentary on the history of comedy. On top of hosting her own show, she currently portrays Mimi Kanasis on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, voices Princess Carolyn on BoJack Horseman, and is set to play a new character in the upcoming Lion King live-action reboot.

Photo taken by Rosa Escandon

Sedaris takes her multiple jobs in stride. “I am better busy. Most people are. What else would you do if you weren’t busy?” she asks confidently. While she jokes that she is most looking forward to “eating, sleeping, watching TV,” she continues, “I like a variety of things. It’s nice having different jobs and different things to do. So I guess my favorite thing is to have variety.”

“I don’t get to do things like this very often and I just loved this place,” the busy Sedaris says of volunteering for the Girls Club event. The comedian’s brand is tied up in making things, which is also at the heart Girls Club. “It’s good for [young people’s] minds, especially in a digital age,” she says of the programs at the clubhouse, “It’s always good to make things with your hands, use your imagination, be creative.”

Her TV show grew out of a childhood love of making things. “I grew up in a very creative house, a crafty house. I did Girl Scouts and learned to make all the stuff I still I make today,” she explains, “It just kind of made sense to do a TV show. I grew up with those kinds of shows, not DIY type shows, but just homemaking shows… I know enough about it to pull it off.”

At Home with Amy Sedaris is a bit of an outlier in the genre of shows about homemaking for two reasons: the genre peaked in popularity in the 1970s and it is a comedy. “It’s fun to make anything you do funny,” Sedaris, who started her career at Second City in Chicago, says. “It makes our show different than what you see during the day or these other types of shows. But we didn’t have any references. There weren’t any funny homemaking shows out there so it was kind of challenging.”

Sedaris used her books to pitch the show. The look of the show mirrors the visuals from the full-color books. “I did the books first on purpose,” she explains, “It was easy when we went out and pitched it. I could slide two books across the table and say, ‘This is what the show looks like.’” After the show was greenlit, she used her books onset. “You can give someone [at the] arts and props department an idea about what I want the look to be. It’s easier for me to do it that way,” she says. The show’s first season was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

Sedaris’s whole aesthetic is eccentric. From her speaking pattern to her outfit of overlapping prints. Creativity seems to seep out of her small frame. “Everything is inspiration to me. I always pick up something when I am out and about. Otherwise, you stay home and don’t get inspired.” As she talks, she brings out her bag to show her recent purchase. “I bought a potholder. I love this potholder.”

Rosa Escandon

I am a stand up comic and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. When I'm not on stage, I am Comedy Editor for The Tusk, sit on the board of the Cinder Block Comedy Festival, and writing my next project. I am passionate about writing about feminism and comedy as well as how women, LBGTQ people, and minorities are changing the face of comedy and entertainment. You may have seen me on Buzzfeed Video, Seriously.TV, aplus, or maybe just on twitter.

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