Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina with her other five siblings (her older brother is the writer David Sedaris), Amy Sedaris moved to Chicago and joined the famed Second City, where she met her future collaborators Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello. As a trio, first teamed up on television in 1995 for Exit 57, a short-lived but critically acclaimed sketch comedy show, and then again in 1999 for Strangers With Candy (1999 – 2001), a depraved spin on those after-school television specials of the 1970s and 1980s. The series’ main character, Geraldine Antonia “Jerri” Blank (Sedaris), was a “junkie whore/runaway” who returns to high school as a freshman at 46 years old at Flatpoint High School (home of the Concrete Donkeys) in the town of Flatpoint.
Jerri Blank ran away from home and became “a boozer, a user, and a loser” after dropping out of high school as a teenager, supporting her drug habits through prostitution, stripping, and larceny. She has been to prison several times, the last time because she “stoled a TV”. At Flatpoint High, Chuck Noblet (Colbert is the school’s history teacher and sponsor of the school newspaper, “The Donkey Trouser”. He has a wife and a son, while having a secret affair with needy Geoffrey Jellineck (Dinello). Geoffrey (pronounced JOFF-ree as opposed to the conventional JEFF-ree) is the school’s art teacher.
Aside from making guest appearances on all sorts of television shows from Sex And The City to Sesame Street to BoJack Horseman to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to World of Wonder‘s RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sedaris has written plays with her famous brother, introduced her own line of fabrics and home goods, and written two bestselling books on entertaining and crafting, including Simple Times: Crafts For Poor People! (2010) A tip from her I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence (2006):
“A good trick is to fill your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosy guest better than an avalanche of marbles hitting a porcelain sink.”
When Sedaris was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in Raleigh, she watched local hospitality shows like WTVD’s At Home With Peggy Mann. These shows inspired her At Home With Amy Sedaris (2017-2001) on Tru-TV, focusing on her love of entertaining, crafts, and cooking. Describing Mann’s influence, Sedaris writes:
“She would do cooking and crafting, and she would have local people on to talk about their businesses. It was very boring, and I was obsessed with Peggy Mann. I liked the idea of pretending you had a show happening in your home.”
She was also inspired by television entertainers like Dinah Shore and Martha Stewart, vintage educational programs, and public access shows.
At Home With Amy Sedaris has had a stellar lineup of guests appearing as themselves or a character, including: John Early, Darrell Hammond, Justin Theroux, Jackie Hoffman, Michael Shannon, Michael Stipe, Jane Krakowski, Rachel Dratch, Richard Kind, Ann Dowd, Christopher Meloni, Paul Giamatti, Neil Patrick Harris, Matthew Broderick, Jason Sudeikis, Paul Rudd and the late, great Jessica Walter.
The show has been nominated for four Emmy Awards and it won a Writers Guild Award. Sadly, Tru-TV gave it the axe in January.
Sedaris has stated that she has had no desire to marry or have children. She is much loved in my household where her wise advice has come in handy. She celebrates her 60th birthday today, March 29!