One of my favorite small pleasures over the last two months, as the boundaries of my world has shrunk to my block and my phone, has been Amy Sedaris’ Instagram, where she has been hosting a daily ten-second show called “What’s in the Drawer?” It’s pretty simple: she trains her phone/camera on one little square white drawer in what appears to be a bureau of dozens of them, and opens it to reveal what’s inside. One drawer was full of little felt shapes, one had a bunch of miniature hats, like for dolls or pets, another had a bunch of lighters and rolling papers.
And that, in a nutshell, sort of sums up the sensibility of At Home with Amy Sedaris, launching its third season tonight on TruTV. It’s a little bit crafty, a little bit silly, and maybe best enjoyed with lighters and rolling papers.
Sedaris has been a comedy fixture since the ‘90s, when she starred as 45-year-old high school freshman Jerri Blank in the cult classic Comedy Central sitcom Strangers with Candy, and soon became David Letterman’s favorite Late Show guest. She’s also written books on her passions of crafting and entertaining, and those seem to have been the launchpad for this latest project, which has her as a sort of demented Martha Stewart, showing off recipes and craft skills as guests pop in and out.
But of course, the recipes and crafts are really just a clothesline for a steady stream of jokes -- jokes that come so quickly you hardly have time to process them before you’re laughing at a new one. Sedaris, whose brother is celebrated author David Sedaris, has always had a twisted sense of humor (see: Strangers with Candy), and one of the joys of At Home is how she transplants that sensibility onto a brightly lit set where she’s dressed like a ‘60s housewife and talking about almond squares.
Despite her long career and good standing with comedy nerds like myself, Sedaris is not exactly a household name. But, much the way they used to call Bill Hicks a “comic’s comic” -- someone who’s not super famous, but who other comics particularly admire -- Sedaris is a comic actor’s comic actor, able to pull great guests like Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Cera, Justin Theroux, John Early, Laura Benanti, Cole Escola, Jane Krakowski, and more, either for full-episode arcs (like Cera’s) or for under-a-minute quick sketches. Each episode is loosely organized around a theme -- the first two this season are “Babies,” in which Sedaris gives the worst advice about preparing for motherhood of all time, except when she’s having guests give even worse advice, and “Valentine’s Day,” in which she engages in a May-December fling with a grocery delivery boy.
It might seem that a show that starts with “At Home” in the title would be about the COVID-19 outbreak, but this one has been on the air for a few years and the season was in the can before the lockdown, so while I do believe Amy Sedaris is one of the few people who could take it on as a topic and actually make it funny, we may have to wait for season 4 for that. Or, go over to Amy’s Instagram.
At Home with Amy Sedaris premieres Wednesday May 20 on truTV; recent episodes will be on demand.