Stepping into the set of “At Home With Amy Sedaris” is like entering a dream house that’s one part Martha Stewart, one part Pee-Wee Herman’s playhouse, and all Amy Sedaris. Though the studio is, in reality, located in a rather boring, industrial corner of Manhattan, every detail of the soundstage — from the lampshade covered with hair samples to the walls hand-painted with flowers and the cheese ball with alien googly eyes — was utilized to appear like a homemade fantasy abode for the comedian and DIY queen.
“I like a visual show,” Sedaris explains. “There’s just so much to look at, so if you get bored of the dialogue you can just look behind you and maybe it’ll trigger an idea for your house. I wanted everything to be an idea, I wanted everything to be crafted and hand made. Nothing is more impressive than to see all the work that was put into that set.”
The set, which was loosely inspired by her own New York City apartment, is Sedaris’ zany take on the homemaking television genre. After previously writing two hilarious (and strangely informative) books on crafting, cooking and hosting — “Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People” and “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” — the “Strangers With Candy” star is channeling Dinah Shore, Julia Child and even Mister Rogers in the new scripted comedy series, which debuts Oct 24.
Each of the crafts Sedaris suggests making, and each recipe she demonstrates, she actually has done herself, even if it is a bit absurd. “I like simple crafts and I like practical crafts, like I’ll take a pot holder any day — anything that’s useful,” she says. “I don’t like crafts that just sit on the shelves and collect dust.”
Still, make no mistake that this is a comedy show. While Sedaris insists that “there’s some real stuff mixed in with some silly stuff,” each week’s theme takes a strange turn. A classic “cooking for one” episode is derailed by obsessions about a possible date, while the great outdoors episode includes some (literally) out-of-this-world guests. Look closely at the week’s “expert” (think fishmonger) and you might spot an esteemed actor like Paul Giamatti or Michael Shannon.
Though Sedaris has lived in New York for decades, her home in the show is in a make believe land, with everything self-contained and entirely Sedaris. “I want that effect that’s almost like the bottle in ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ ” Sedaris explains. “Where it was hot pink and I always loved that feeling like she was in her own environment, like you went into her world when she was in that bottle.”
If you jump inside this bottle, you’ll likely leave with quite a few laughs and a couple interior decorating ideas.