How Amy Sedaris Does Breakfast
In her new series, At Home with Amy Sedaris, the eponymous comedian, actress and hostess with the most-est will happily duet with Jane Krakowski about the virtues of glue and unite with Nick Kroll and a can of Reddi Whip for an homage to the pottery scene in the movie, Ghost. But there’s at least one topic that Sedaris’ show, which premieres October 24 on truTV, will probably not be covering: “I hate brunch,” she said.
Sedaris’ hatred of brunch comes from an honest place. Although she became famous for playing the shrill, hard-truth spouting, 46-year-old high schooler Jerri Blank on Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy and her current career highlights include the Netflix dark comedies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bojack Horseman, Sedaris used to work at Marion's Restaurant, a now-defunct, too-trendy-for-it’s-own-good lounge in New York City’s East Village.
“It was just a bunch of people who could drink openly; alcoholics were so happy,” Sedaris says now. Waitstaff aren’t alone in this opinion, she continues. “I’ve talked to merchants who hate brunch because everyone goes shopping after brunch and people would breath into their face and they’d just be sick for the rest of the day. It’s just boozy breath.”
While Sedaris figures the best strategy to elevate brunch is to “cancel it”—“I don’t know why people want to eat all that and drink all that,” she scoffs. “Then what do you do? Nothing. Then you have a light dinner?”—she has found a way to recreate another time-honored tradition: the home cooking show.
At Home seems to be a combination of lots of things Sedaris does love with great passion: entertaining, crafting, and creating extravagant personalities for herself and her friends. Justin Theroux makes a cameo as a gay astronaut. Cole Escola, who appears along with her in the Hulu comedy Difficult People, plays a version of the deceptively unwholesome suburban mom he performs on his YouTube channel. And Michael Shannon plays … a character that Sedaris doesn’t want to spoil during our interview. Others, like Paul Giamatti, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Dratch, will also guest star. Episodes are themed around such light-hearted topics as poverty, grief, lovemaking (which Sedaris jokes is “really talky”) and even gift-giving.
As for Sedaris herself? In At Home’s sketches, she plays everyone from a homeless person to a well-traveled wine expert to “every Southern woman crammed into one lady [named] Patty Hogg … She’s an heir to Quarreland Hog Seeds. She’ll get on your nerves a little bit. But I love playing Patty.”
Don’t, however, think this show is a send-up of Martha Stewart; Sedaris says she was inspired by the TV personalities she grew up watching.
“When I was younger, like five or six, seven, in North Carolina, there was a local show called At Home with Peggy Mann,” Sedaris told the audience during a press panel. “It was a woman who had a homemaking show, and it was really boring, and it was black and white. She would sit in a chair, and the cord from her shirt to the cameraman would be attached, and she would talk about back sleeves and have really boring guests on her show. And I remember pointing to the TV, with my mom, and saying, ‘Oh, I am going to grow up and do that show.’”
While At Home is by no means a period piece, it does have nods to staples of the late mid-century American kitchen. Look for references to the era of Tupperware parties, tuna casseroles and avocado green kitchen appliances in her show’s logo and production design.
“I just liked how low-budget they felt,” Sedaris says now of programs like Julia Child’s The French Chef and Dinah Shore’s many talk show iterations. “They were just doing what they were passionate about. It wasn’t so much about the gadgets that they had or who was watching the show.”
But—Dan Aykroyd’s impersonation of Child on Saturday Night Live notwithstanding—Sedaris says the closest example to At Home is a relic of the ‘60s that Lennon dug up called Kitchen Magic.
“That was the first thing I saw where they merged a cooking show with a little bit of humor,” Sedaris says. “It’s a hard thing to merge; you want to do something serious, but you want something funny. It’s tricky.”
What shouldn’t be hard, Sedaris says, is throwing a good party at your home.
“You just have to have the right mix of friends,” she says. “That’s it for me. When I have people over, it’s just who goes with who and what we can order.”