BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Whether she’s fabricating a bird feeder, cobbling together the perfect cake, or offering handy hints for the harried hostess, Amy Sedaris has all the answers.
The comic performer is hosting her very own homemaking show, “At Home With Amy Sedaris,” on truTV. And while she dons a perky chintz apron and overpowers crafts gone wrong, Sedaris herself is no hausfrau. Marriage and children are not part of her to-do list.
“I knew I never wanted to get married and have kids. It just didn’t make sense to me,” says the petite Sedaris, seated in a meeting room of a hotel here.
“I didn’t want to go through the pain. I could not imagine having a baby. I like responsibility, but not that kind of responsibility. I like to do things my way and do things not because I HAVE to do them. I just didn’t want to have to be tied down,” she says.
Being alone doesn’t bother her. “I can entertain myself and do things by myself. I surround myself with a really good team, have a lot of good friends, close family, it just never was for me. It’s too much trouble,” she sighs.
What’s not too much trouble is her dedication to work — and not just performing. While Sedaris was trying to get a stranglehold on show business, she was holding down three waitressing jobs. “I loved waitressing because it really helped me with my timing and everything — comedy, talking to people.
“I just loved the interaction with people, customers, real people. I loved making money. I liked hearing people argue and complain about things. You just learn so much about people when you wait on them.”
She worked so hard at those jobs that once she started performing with the improv comedy troupe Second City in Chicago, she felt guilty.
“When I finally got into acting and making money off acting, I felt so lazy,” she says. “You’d go weeks without working and I felt like, ‘Why am I not pouring ketchup or folding silverware?’ That’s why I always like to have something on the side. Even when I did ‘Strangers With Candy’ I was still waitressing somewhere. I couldn’t let go of that. I’m just a working person. I always felt it was too lazy when I started making money off acting, like I wasn’t working all the time or having a project.”
She admits to being “a little OCD,” pursuing new projects and says, “I thought, ‘I’m not going to wait around for the phone to ring. I’m going to start my own job, pick my own teams, and get my own people involved.’ I love that: spearheading a project and getting people involved in it.”
Sedaris can’t remember when she was not cutting up. Her whole family was funny, she says. “We all have a good sense of humor and we have good timing because it’s all about talking over each other and one-upping each other, and my mom was really funny.
“My first instinct is to make fun of it and then go, ‘Oh, sorry, that was serious.’ ”
That puckish sense of humor was not much help when she flunked the first grade. “I was too immature they said. I was 5. But I was funny then. I was the class clown. Got me into trouble and it still does. … That was pretty bad, I remember crying, feeling left behind, feeling like a failure.”
Sedaris grew bored with high school and knew that college was not for her. “That’s where Second City was perfect for me,” she recalls. That experience taught her to think fast, she says.
“I learned teamwork and coming up with working relationships. It’s failing in front of a live audience every night. It’s always good to fail. Putting up a show at the last minute, being quick on your feet.”
The death of her mother when Amy was 30 and losing her sister a couple of years ago was life-changing, confesses Sedaris. “People who haven’t lost a parent or a sibling, it’s like you know, ‘Oh, you just wait. It’s all about now, about taking care of people NOW,’ ” she says.
“When you lose somebody they’re still with you. It’s hard to grab, but you feel them a little bit in a different way, but they’re still around. I still talk to my mom. I have dead rabbits I still write letters to. You feel a certain strength from loss, there is something like that. They’re just not around physically.”
She still has a pet rabbit and if she’s a domestic goddess on TV, she insists she’s one at home, too. “Running a household is hard work,” she nods. “I could hire somebody to come and clean, but I think, ‘Oh, the rabbit’s running around. They might not know that’s art work. They might throw out those ashes, and they’re from incense.’ I’m just a martyr that way. It’s just easier to do it yourself.”