If you’ve ever spent a few minutes reading about Amy Sedaris, you’ll know that she lives in something of a wunderkammer: Her cramped New York apartment is home to 60 wooden flying bats, a cup filled with solid fake tea, a hair-adorned lamp shade, a taxidermy duck, baby shoes, and a fake ham, to name just a few possessions.
It’s only fitting then, that 17 years after the beloved series Strangers With Candy, Sedaris is going back to TV with At Home With Amy Sedaris, a truTV series premiering today that finds Sedaris in an anything-goes space not unlike her actual space. “It was important for me to have a lot of my own things around me, so I brought a lot of my stuff to set,” Sedaris said on Monday of the studio where she’s hosted guests from Stephen Colbert to Paul Giamatti.
Besides everyday items like pots and pans, a good deal of Sedaris’s personal effects included her own clothing, much of it designed by her friend Adam Selman—a brave choice given the nature of the show, which is a take on the ’60s and ’70s cooking and crafting shows that preceded Martha Stewart. And while Stewart specifically was never one of Sedaris’s influences, At Home With Amy Sedaris is essentially Martha Stewart gone mad—and much, much messier. Having finished up handling “big and smelly” fish, among many other treats for her viewers, Sedaris shares more about her fake food collection, plus her pet rabbit and why opted out of a Rihanna concert, in her culture diet, here.
I’ve heard you keep a fake ham in your kitchen, and pull out a fake turkey each year around Thanksgiving. Just how extensive is your collection of fake food?
I have lots of fake food, but I’m really picky about my fake food. Sometimes people will try to buy me fake food, and I’m like, “You’re so off the mark.” Mine is like old plaster, hand-painted, beautiful, neat. I go to flea markets now, but when I moved to New York, there was that plastics store on Canal [Street], which is no longer there, and I got a really nice turkey. It’s just really hard to find really good, nice fake food, so I’m always happy when I do.
Why do you like to have it?
[Pauses.] I don’t know. I just like having it around my apartment here and there—you know, you look over and there are some swinging meats. I mean, I don’t have it where it’s obnoxious and I look like I dated a butcher or something. It’s just nicely decorated, and I just like the way it looks. I always liked in school when they’d show you portion sizes, and they’d have a nice half a cup of green beans that would be army green and rubbery, and you’re just like, Oh, that’s so beautiful.
The best parts of the show are when you’re clearly messing up with whatever craft or food you’re tackling, and you just keep going. When you were growing up absorbed in these types of shows, did you realize how much people had to pretend to make things look perfect on-screen?
Yeah, in the old shows sometimes you’d see their mess-ups. Nowadays, you don’t see their mess-ups, and I can’t relate because they also have all these fancy gadgets, and I’m like, “How do you have counter space?” I saw Ina Garten] juicing a lemon on Barefoot Contessa and she had this gadget she plugged into the wall, and I was like, “Why doesn’t she just stick a fork into it and twist it? The fanciest thing I have is something that frenches beans, and I’ve been using that since the ‘70s. and then in the show I use an electric can opener, and that’s pretty much the fanciest gadget we have on the show. I mean, gadgets are fun, I just don’t have the room for them, you know?
Getting into the culture diet questions, what’s the first thing you read in the morning?
I look at my horoscope in the New York Post. That’s the only thing I’ll look at in the New York Post, but I like to read my horoscope in there—it just gives me stuff to ponder. But first I have a lot of chores when I get up—I have a rabbit, so the first thing I do every morning is my little routine of giving her water, getting her greens, and getting her a piece of banana. Then I look at my horoscope, and then I look at headlines.
What’s your sign?
I’m an Aries. Today it said a boss type—someone of authority—might have an issue with me, but I’d let it roll off my back. But I was like, I can’t imagine who that would be. [Laughs.] So….
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Well, I’m doing something unusual right now. I normally just read one book at a time, but because we were working on the show, I got behind on my reading. So I’m actually reading a few books, which I don’t normally do. You know, Tom Petty died, and I didn’t know anything about Tom Petty, so I’m reading a book on Tom Petty. And I’m reading my brother’s diaries [David Sedaris‘s Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002)], which is really funny, and then I’m reading a book called Rabbit by Patricia Williams. And then when I was at the beach, I read this book called Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, and it made me reread her book My Name Is Lucy Barton. It’s unusual for me to be reading all those things at the same time, but it’s working out.
What TV shows have been keeping you up at night, now that you’ve finished up your own?
I’ve been watching Better Things and Broad City. I just copped the first two episodes of Sarah Silverman‘s show [I Love You, America]. And Nick Kroll’s show, Big Mouth, on Netflix, is just so filthy and so great.
What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?
I saw that last Lego movie because I took my godson to it, and my friend Justin Theroux does a voice. I really laughed hard, and I kind of felt like I knew the characters, because I do Legos with my godson. And then I saw the movie Maudie, which is based on Maud Lewis, the Canadian craft artist.
What’s the last piece of art you bought?
I bought a couple of Rebecca Morgan‘s pieces. And I’m a big fan of Hugo Guinness, and he gave us some artwork for the show, which was nice.
What’s the last song you had on repeat?
Oh, boy. I don’t listen to music that much because I don’t like it to be the soundtrack of what I’m doing at the time, especially when we’re working on the show. But I’d say the last thing was a really good old David Bowie mix my friend made; that’s the last thing that I was like, This is great. It’s always good to hear David Bowie songs.
What’s the last concert you went to?
[Laughs.] That’s hilarious. My friend invited me to a Rihanna concert, and I was like, “What do you wear to a concert?” I don’t dance, so I’m like, What am I gonna do, just stand there and listen to music? So I got out of it. But my first concert was Al Jarreau in North Carolina. My dad took the family to see him in Chapel Hill.
Besides scanning the headlines, how do you get your news?
Well, [Sedaris’s At Home co-creator] Paul Dinello’s like my best friend, and he works at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and lots of times I just call him and say, “Okay, what’s happening?” [Laughs.] That’s how I get my news. But I just look at the headlines, and I’m like, What the hell is happening?
What’s the last thing you googled?
Oh god, what’s going to come up? Let me see… Oh, I looked up a word because I didn’t know what I meant, and I was like what the hell is that? It’s funny the words you look up, especially with all this political stuff going on, words I never dreamt I’d ever google, but this one was—aw, fish, where is it? Oh, it was ‘culvert’ [a tunnel carrying a stream]. I was reading something in the paper about some girl and they couldn’t find her, and that’s where they found her, near that, and I was like, What’s that? I know, horrible.
You have a great Instagram. What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?
Last thing: What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
I always say my prayers. I’ve never gone to bed without saying my prayers, and I’ve done that since I was a young child. It’s a habit I got into, and I absolutely never forget it. I just go through everyone I know, everybody I saw that day, all the dead people I know, all the dead animals I know—I know. It takes me a while, but I do it all. It’s a big wrap-up.
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