Amy Sedaris has been one of the funniest people on TV for decades, yet Emmy recognition has eluded her. That changed this year when her gonzo homemaking spoof for TruTV, “At Home With Amy Sedaris,” was nominated in the best variety sketch category.
Episodes begin as goofs on “The Martha Stewart Show” and the like but end up somewhere decidedly more outrageous. Along the way, Sedaris creates “Girl Scout-level” crafts (bottle cap castanets), dispenses kitchen tips (“ouzo kills feelings”) and occasionally breaks into song in the chipper demeanor of a professional TV homemaker.
In a phone interview, she discussed her nomination, rabbit care and the transcendent joys of packing tape:
Q: How would you describe “At Home” to somebody who’s never seen it?
A: It’s a homemaking show that starts off like “Martha Stewart,” where you would address the camera, but then it goes into a narrative story. It is a little bit of everything. I mean, I could rattle off 31 things we were inspired by. Everything from Lawrence Welk to Red Skelton to “Two Fat Ladies,” Mister Rogers, Ernie Kovacs.
Q: Is it tough to play a version of yourself?
A: Yes, I was scared about playing myself. And then once I started playing other characters [on the show] I thought, oh, I get it: I’m the straight guy. And those characters can make fun of me. So now it’s easy because I just think of myself as the straight one.
Q: Those other characters you play are heavily made up to the point of being grotesque. Do you prefer those kinds of roles?
A: It’s just more fun. If I’m going to be in the makeup chair, let’s get ugly for it. Ugly is so much fun to play, and then your body takes over, and you can be anything.
Q: Packing tape also seems to play a large role in the show. What was your proudest packing-tape-related achievement?
A: The biggest one was, I lined a hallway closet in my home with tiny candies from China that had these beautiful flowers on it. They were tiny pastel colors, like the size of two postage stamps together. And I emptied all the candy out and did an entire hallway, floor to ceiling, in those candy wrappers, then I went over the whole thing with packing tape. It was fantastic.
I cover everything with packing tape — it’s just prettier. I travel with packing tape. It’s always on me. Why haven’t they asked me to do a commercial?
Q: I find it hard to believe this is your first Emmy nomination. How did you react when you found out?
A: I laughed. I’m not part of that fraternity, really. So it’s great. I was happier for everyone else on the show. I was just so surprised by it, and I’m excited about it; it’s really nice. But I’ve never gone to the Emmys. My first thought was, “Oh, God, I have to wear makeup and dress up.”
I guess I would have to think of some kind of speech to prepare myself. But it’s also my style not to. I think more about: Who’s going to watch my rabbit while I fly to L.A., in the middle of shooting, to do this awards thing?
Q: Don’t you have a rabbit person?
A: Well, I’m so glad you’re bringing it up, because now I have someone to talk to about it. I do, but if I go to L.A. on a Saturday, when am I going to get my rabbit, Tina, to the sitters? Because I work Friday. Do you know what I mean? Oh, it’s a whole thing.