Over the course of a career that has seen her careen among insane, outright deranged characters, Amy Sedaris has remained delightfully inscrutable. The 58-year-old titan of comedy has made it her life’s work to embody more weirdos and psychos than could easily fit into an asylum. And while she will forever be associated with Jerri Blank, the recovered user, boozer, and loser she portrayed on Comedy Central’s seminal show Strangers with Candy, Sedaris continues to amass new personas, most recently as the Rachael Ray-as-rendered-by-David Lynch host of truTV’s Emmy-nominated series At Home with Amy Sedaris. Between Taking Care of Business (you’ll see later), and taking care of her bunny, she took time to consider some questions from her friends and not-so-secret admirers.
JOHN WATERS: Is it acceptable to serve liver at a dinner party if you know all your guests are not vegetarian?
AMY SEDARIS: I would only serve liver at a party. If all my guests were vegetarian, I would ask them to eat before they arrived.
JERRY SALTZ: When do you keep secrets?
SEDARIS: I keep secrets whenever someone asks me to keep a secret. And then if I don’t like someone anymore, then I’ll spill those secrets.
AIDY BRYANT: What are the first things you do when you wake up?
SEDARIS: I do my bunny chores. I give my 4-year-old male rabbit, Tina, a slice of banana and some water. I say hello to my two houseplants. I make my bed. I tinkle.
NATASHA LYONNE: Which animal do you most identify with? Do you believe they are secretly capable of doing crafts, like crochet? Separately, which animals do you like seeing most in outfits?
SEDARIS: I identify with rabbits, I guess, because I can also be very quiet and see out the side of my head. And yes, I believe that animals are capable of doing crafts. They build nests, dig tunnels, and spin webs. I love seeing an owl in a graduation cap.
BRIDGET EVERETT: I love how you are constantly showcasing lesser-known talents on your Instagram. What excites you?
SEDARIS: Fresh meat. I like to showcase images from new talent who inspire me. I can get really excited about an image. I couldn’t sleep when I saw the image of a floating fork and Mrs. Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie.
ADAM SELMAN: What’s your worst habit? Is it something you want to change or accept?
SEDARIS: Lately, my worst habit is picking at my nails because of the anxiety of having ten scripts to memorize. I’m not biting at them, I’m just picking at them. And grinding my teeth. I just had to get one pulled. As far as changing something about myself, I need to not spend so much time alone. But I really enjoy it. I think it comes from growing up in a large family and working around a lot of people. But I could socialize more.
MARCEL DZAMA: You’re the biggest wig enthusiast I’ve ever known. Can you talk about your first wig and the best wig you’ve ever worn?
SEDARIS: My first wig was in third grade. It was the fall. It came from JCPenney. They had a wig display, which I’ll never forget as long as I live. And I would steal wigs off the mannequins. I was obsessed with them. I just liked that you could change it up all the time. I still go wig shopping and I still respect the wig.
LENA DUNHAM: What do you think makes rabbits the perfect companion for comediennes?
SEDARIS: Rabbits can make you laugh with their jumping and hopping and twirling. They entertain, and it reminds you to be entertaining.
COLE ESCOLA: Describe a memorable neighbor you’ve had.
SEDARIS: I have been blessed with many memorable neighbors. I had an incest victim, a 5-year-old deaf child, a Southside-of-Chicago pill-popping, chain-smoking hillbilly who used words like “cocksucker” and “formaldehyde” and had a small dog with one very large ball. I dated a guy who lived in a trailer and owned a fish tank with an Oscar fish, which could never turn around because they grow to the size of the tank.
JUSTIN THEROUX: Dear Amy, I’m feeling a little down on myself lately. Can you give me five quick tips that will make me feel more “ladylike” overnight? Signed, Sad Sack.
1. Put on a transparent pair of panties.
2. Apply lipstick to your cheekbones.
3. Remove the lice from your hair.
4. Make sausage hair curls using real sausage.
5. Tuck your penis between your ass cheeks.
TODD OLDHAM: What film and book have you seen and read the most times, and why do you return to them?
SEDARIS: Movies I’ll watch over and over again are: There Will Be Blood (7 times), Amy (12 times), Leaving Neverland (4 times), and Wild Wild Country (6 times). I reread a lot of books, which is why I hang onto so many. The ones that come to my mind right away are Monkeys by Susan Minot, Truth Beauty by Ann Patchett, Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz, Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Is There No Place on Earth for Me? by Susan Sheehan, The Shrine at Altamira by John L’Heureux, and all of my brother David’s books.
DAVID SEDARIS: Is there anything you’d like to say to the dozens of children you aborted?
SEDARIS: “No regrets.”
MAYA RUDOLPH: I’m having a dinner party for a coven of witches. What should I serve?
SEDARIS: Witch Weenies and cold brew!
ABBI JACOBSON: What is your process for creating a character?
SEDARIS: First, I think of the posture; the physicality of the character—Jerri Blank was little on the top and big on the bottom. Then there’s the hair, the shoes, the clothes, and the voice. I like to find it through improvisation so I can play around.
SARAH JESSICA PARKER: You are a most coveted guest at dinner parties, gatherings, or, frankly, any social affair. The city is your oyster. But whose home have you imagined being inside that you have not yet seen?
SEDARIS: I would love to visit Frida Kahlo’s house. I hear it is very tiny, like her art. I would love to visit Ernie Kovacs’s house, too. He had his set designer and prop person build a fake bookcase that would open up into secret rooms. I’m curious what Ann Dowd’s and Meryl Streep’s places look like. More than anything, I would like to see what the dressing tables of Prince, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Elvis Presley looked like after they died.
PARKER: You love a good day of “TCB.” You delight in a visit to your local post office, green grocer, and butcher—and a good promenade around your neighborhood. Can you describe why you love those days so much?
SEDARIS: You always need something to bitch about. I love going to the post office to talk to Angie, and to Bigelow’s pharmacy to talk to Cece or Vitamin Guy Joe. I want to hear about their lives. It comes from growing up in the South. And I love a good list. It makes me feel grounded. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I know a lot of people, and I want to check in on them.
PARKER: If you were solely in control of our shared money jar, what might you insist we use it for? And I’m curious, what is our total?
SEDARIS: Sarah, when are you going to forget about that money jar? It was a scam. I did it with a lot of people. My guess is that there is about $1,000. We took money out to buy presents for people like Andy Cohen. I will check one of these days. We always said we would go to London, but now maybe we have enough to go to Big Gay Ice Cream. But you have to let it go.
JULIETTE LEWIS: Do you remember the first character you created?
SEDARIS: My great-grandmother was a character because she was old and hunched over. She had the shaky neck and glasses that made your eyes look really big, and she didn’t speak much English. So, physically, I’d say her. And then I borrowed a few faces from my father. Those are my first two big characters. And then after that it was teachers and anyone else I could imitate. I’m pretty good at picking up that one thing in somebody and then magnifying it.
JANE KRAKOWSKI: What does the rabbit know about you that no one else does?
SEDARIS: Tina knows what I look like naked.
Hair: Lucas Wilson using Bumble and Bumble at Home Agency.
Manicure: Mei Kawajiri.
Production: Joshe Ordonez for Cartel Co.
Location: Slate Studios.
Set Design: Juliet Jernigan at Lalaland.
Photography Assistants: Matt Baffa and Eduardo Silva.
Fashion Assistants: Malaika Crawford and Dominic Dopico.
Set Assistant: Mack Closmore.
Production Assistant: Noah Wali.