If you were watching back in 2006 when Amy Sedaris showed David Letterman how to make googly-eyed peanuts during one of her many Late Show appearances, you know she’s long dreamed of doing a TV version of her whimsical how-to books about cooking and crafts. At Home With Amy Sedaris is finally coming to TruTV on Oct. 24, and on Friday attendees of the inaugural Tribeca TV Festival got a sneak peek at the premiere.
The first 10-episode season finds Sedaris deep in Martha Stewart mode, but it wasn’t actually the Queen of Home that inspired the show. More like Tammy Faye Bakker, whose low-rent cooking segments Sedaris watched as a kid. “I love bad ideas,” the actress and occasional bad-art auctioneer told a packed house of adoring fans at Cinepolis Chelsea.
Actually, the show’s direct inspiration was the prim, proper, bouffanted Southern lady who hosted At Home With Peggy Mann on Raleigh-Durham television when Sedaris was growing up there. “She would do an episode on bat sleeves,” Sedaris recalled of Mann. “She had successful business women on the show.”
Likewise, Sedaris entertains some businessmen on her version of At Home, namely a suited stiff played by Todd Barry and a “dirty son of a bitch” played by Paul Giamatti. Spoiler alert: After a few too many Scallywag cocktails, the latter makes his way into Amy’s bedroom.
“I end up sleeping with a lot of the guests,” Sedaris confessed to Andy Cohen, the post-screening Q&A’s moderator.
Sedaris said she has “always wanted to do a straight-up, no-laughs show” worthy of PBS. At Home is hardly that, given its hilarious contributions from guests like “The Lady Who Lives in the Woods” and its nauseating shots of dead monkfish (the food stylist is Mark Ibold, local bartender and bassist for Sonic Youth and Pavement). Still, the hostess played by Sedaris is a relatively straight version of herself. Much of the quirky, cartoonish set décor was taken from her actual West Village apartment, and the crafts and dishes are right out of her books. (Remember the “potato ships” from Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People? She makes them again in the premiere, once again klutzing around with fake fingernails and getting glue all over the place.)
Don’t worry, Sedaris lets her freak flag fly by playing special guests such as a “regional wine lady” (whose voice, she admits, is basically the same as the one she uses for Princess Carolyn on BoJack Horseman) and Patty Hogg, a scrappy Southerner who grills lamb chops in the middle of her country club and takes charge of the show when Sedaris gets depressed about a dead pet.
Jerri Blank doesn’t make an appearance, but there’s a lot to love if you’re a Strangers With Candy fan. After all, the show was co-created by Paul Dinello, aka Geoffrey Jellineck, who was also at the Q&A. David Pasquesi, who played Stew the Meat Man on Strangers, appears here as Tony the Knife Man, who has a troubled relationship with his blades (“knives are patient… unless they’re provoked”). Justin Theroux returns as a “gay astronaut” who’d “rather be a dancer.”
There’s a “Jellineck character,” too, but Dinello didn’t end up playing him (Dinello does, however, appear in the “Lovemaking” episode). Instead, the honor went to John Early of Search Party. Another emerging star, Cole Escola of Difficult People, plays a woman “with a shady past.” In the “murderer episode,” Sedaris gets mixed up with Michael Shannon. Nick Kroll, Rachel Dratch and Jane Krakowski also drop in.
Oh, and one last surprise from Strangers With Candy. Dinello, a writer and producer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, revealed that Colbert himself will make an appearance. Apparently he has forgiven Sedaris for making fun of his cooking. “[Colbert] would get us on the phone and tell us what he would make for dinner and we would hang up and we would make so much fun of him,” Sedaris recalled. “And 10 years later we would tell him and it would hurt his feelings.”
Like she said: “Bad ideas.”