Amy Sedaris in clothes from Built By Wendy, photographed by Hawker Harrier


by Justin Monroe

Amy Sedaris is boring. Let us amend that statement—for a celebrity, she's quirky and interesting. How many known actresses sell baked goods during intermissions at their performances, keep a plastic Thanksgiving turkey on their TV or entertain imaginary friends? But compared to Geraldine "Jerri" Antonia Blank, the 46-year-old ex-junkie-whore-dropout-turned-high-school-freshman who she made famous on the now-defunct series "Strangers with Candy," a riotous spoof of seventies after-school specials, Amy, 44, is rather tame. Her own high school days in Raleigh, NC, were not nearly as raucous as Jerri's. Although she was cool with the pot smoking, sex-crazed crowd, she was her own person and preferred spending time with her curious Greek family, which her brother, author David Sedaris, details in his books.

Now living in New York's West Village, you may have seen her around, or noticed her in "Sex and the City," Elf [New Line, '03] or The School of Rock [Paramount, '03]. In 2005, the wild woman returns in the highly anticipated Strangers with Candy movie. The flick, which also starring famous friends such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Todd Oldham and Philip Seymour Hoffman, premiered at Sundance and should hit theaters later this year. Mass Appeal caught up with Amy so she and Jerri could get to entertainin' these white folks.

"Strangers with Candy" had a lot of off-color, politically incorrect commentary. Were there any topics that made you feel awkward?
We had a sniper attack drill where a drill went off—SNIPER ATTACK!! Everyone hit the floor and then it turned out it was just a test. It was satirical and everything, but we just took it out because it wasn't worth it with Columbine and everything. Killings in school, anything to do with sex abuse—those are topics people always encouraged us to do, but it didn't interest any of us.

Given the show's prickly nature, did you receive much Bible Belt hate mail?
The only criticism I remember getting was, "Why does she have to be so ugly?" Mostly from women. But that's what drew me to it. Jerri thought she was attractive, and that's all that mattered. I like it when unattractive people play attractive.

Did you ever learn a lesson watching after-school specials?
No, cause they were played out in such a queer way. I would run home from school just to make fun of them. "You've got to be a friend to have a friend." Whose parents are like that? I was always so happy that my mom wasn't as queer as the moms in the friggin' movies.

What's the overarching moral of "Strangers...?"
Drinking kills feeling [laughs].

What sort of fans does the show attract?
I always say that they're ugly people. And ugly people, that's what I like, cause no one does things for ugly people. That's one thing I think is great about "Strangers with Candy" — [as Jerri Blank] It's for losers! Yay!

What's the most common request of you?
Fans of Jerri Blank always want me to make the face, or if they want me to sign something they want me to sign "Pee on me."

Are you a cult follower of anything?
I'm a big fan of Lifetime. I love any kind of reenactment. I used to be obsessed with medical science. Or it used to be a fascination with criminals, sociology, dealing with people and their problems—anything from Tourette's syndrome to Munchausen by proxy, diseased type things on the darker side. I enjoy things that are depressing, I guess because I'm not that way.

You used to want to work at a women's prison, right?
I was so fascinated. I guess my idea was to get into the criminal mind, just talk to [prisoners] and stare at them.

How do you think your personality would have played behind bars?
They probably would have liked me. It must be really hard to be hopeful in prison, to wake up and have a good day, but I would try to keep the ball up, get everybody involved in something. Like Martha Stewart, she's teaching the people in prison to make sweaters.

You once wore a fat suit home to fuck with your weight-conscious father. Did the experience "teach you about the plight of fat people," a la Gwyneth Paltrow?
Oh, I don't think I'll ever know what it's like to be...the closest I ever got to anything was the time I did the photo shoot and I looked like I got punched in the face. I wore the makeup home and I could feel people staring at me. When I wore it to work waiting tables, only one table asked me how I was out of a full night's shift. That's the first time I felt what it must be like to have something fucked up on my face. Like even people with bad acne, I don't know how they do it.

Why, despite your successful career, do you continue to make and sell cheese-balls and cupcakes?
It's always good to have a job to bitch about. I complain that butter's $5 a pound, that milk's gone up. And I like doing things that I don't have to do. [Amy's" cheese balls are currently available at Gourmet Garage.]

What's your connection to the House Rabbit Society?
I'm an honorary rabbit educator, which means I can go to your house and train you about your rabbit. Rabbit fur is real popular right now because it's cheap, but it just breaks my heart because they're the best pets ever. You can train them; they sleep with you; they're easy to feed. I have one, a mini-Rex. Her fur is what they're using right now. It feels like chinchilla, very luxurious.

© July 2005  Mass Appeal