11/19/03 | The Phoenix, the official student newspaper of Loyola University

Will the Real Amy Sedaris Please Stand Up?

by Lisa Skriver
Assistant Diversions Editor

Phoenix: You used to live here in Chicago. What was your experience like at Second City?

Sedaris: Originally I went to the Playerís Workshop, and that took a summer. I got into the training center. I donít remember how many levels- maybe 8? Then that allows you to audition for the touring company and then I went to the main stage.

Phoenix: Second City is a notorious boyís club; did you face any sexism?

Sedaris: I didnít have that problem, I know people said that, but I know more funny men than funny women. The girls that I had to work with at Second City werenít funny. The first funny woman I got to work with was Jackie Hoffman. And I remember when I got to work with her how fun it was. But I never played Ďthe brideí. I played the parts that a guy could do to.

I was a woman but it wasnít the major part of the scenes. When the women I worked with wanted to do scenes like Ďletís be female soldiersí Iíd be like Ď[expletive deleted]!í Or the director would say we need a scene with women and try to force it in the show, and if itís not happening itís not happening. It was really difficult to do that. I just naturally worked better with the guys, and they were funnier. I just like to work with funny people. Not all the guys were always funny either, though.

Phoenix: I saw your spread in Nest magazine. Your house is awesome. I love your plastic meat.

Sedaris: Thank you, I have a lot of plastic food. Theyíre really hard to find. I have rubber too. I love plastic and plaster food.

Phoenix: So I was wondering if I could come crash at your house next time Iím in New York?

Sedaris: Hmm, probably not, just because the apartments are so small anyway. Even my family knows to get a hotel.

Phoenix: Yeah, your rabbit would probably gnaw my face off. How is Dusty?

Sedaris: Dustyís doing great. Sheís sleeping now. They tend to sleep during the day. She chews me out of house and home. I have to give her stuff to gnaw on.

Phoenix: I really enjoy your appearances on David Lettermen. You project such a colorful persona, how close is that to the real ĎAmyí?

Sedaris: On the talk shows? That is me. I think the people and the energy make me really excited. You kind of forget thereís an audience there, and I donít look outside the chair. I always look forward to seeing him, and heís really good at his job. You can just trust him, and if he asks you a question you just answer it honestly.

Phoenix: Is there any sacred ground that you will not take your comedy to? What sorts of things offend you?

Sedaris: Well, I always try to find something funny in everything, which is why I like to go see a lot of serious stuff, and see whatís funny about that. I donít like to see a lot of violence and incest stuff. If I were an incest victim, for example, then Iíd be allowed to make jokes about it because Iíd probably know where to find the funny in it, but because Iím not and I donít then I would probably just stay away from it. At Second City when we ask for suggestions people and they shout Ďincestí youíre like Ďwhat the fuck?í You just go off. I canít stand anything with animal brutality. I donít like see a rabbit get battered around.

Phoenix: I remember in ďStrangers With CandyĒ you had animals dying left and right -your turtle, Shelli?

Sedaris: Oh, yeah. They werenít real. I donít like real stuff, like dog attacks. If I know itís not real, thatís different. I hate documentaries with animals dying. I canít stand that.

Phoenix: Do you consider yourself a role model. I consider you a role model.

Sedaris: Oh thatís so nice. I get letters from people and Iím like Ďdonít give me that responsibilityí. Itís hard to believe that anyone would think of me as a role model, I guess. Itís interesting to me. I get a lot letters from girls who say that.

Phoenix: Strangers with Candy came on when I was a high school freshman, and was the kind of show that helped me see that there was something really different out there. It was really inspirational.

Sedaris: We didnít know that we were doing anything different. Thatís one good thing about Paul [Dinello] and Stephen [Colbert], we all met at Second City, and weíve known each other for 16 years. We didnít set out to do something really different, we just did what we thought was funny. Usually if you have a grounded character, and try to play it as honest you can it just naturally comes out.

Half the stuff you see we didnít write, you just kind of find it on set. When you have a crew and actors that youíre comfortable with it just kind of happens and comes out of that character. Itís that old queer thing that they say at Second City. Bernie Sahlins said Ďyouíve gotta know who you are and where you are and where you came from.í With auditions to, you just have to make a choice and stick to it. With Jerri I know her so well, itís really easy to go in and out of character. I just kind of did the mouth.

Phoenix: I love the mouth. I bet when you raid a prop closet itís like a tornado has come through.

Sedaris: Oh God yeah. I have a lot of costumes still from Second City, and I have two prop closets in my apartment, and I have a wig collection. I always have everything at my fingertips.

Phoenix: I read that youíre baking 400 cupcakes for a lung cancer benefit.

Sedaris: I have all my supplies, Iím gonna make my frosting Sunday night. I have a small oven so Iím going to just do 12 at a time. Iím gonna get up at 6 a.m. and started knocking it out. Itís only 20 batches, it wonít be that bad.

Phoenix: 20 batches of cupcakes! Do you make it from scratch?

Sedaris: Yeah, itís all from scratch. I feel like Iím working out. I feel like thereís a marathon coming up, so every day I gear myself up for it.

Phoenix: Is your career how you envisioned it to be? Did you plan it out or do you just go with the flow?

Sedaris: Iíve been doing the same thing since I was six. My first goal was Second City, and then moving to New York and doing plays with my brother. I didnít plan TV, it just kind of fell into my lap, and it was like ĎOh, great.í Then movies - my goal was to do movies. I have an agent and if I go on an audition then itís like Ďoh, wow I got it.í In a way it protects me because Iím not disappointed if something doesnít happen. I donít face a lot of rejection. I just have the attitude that if you really want to do something just do it and everything will come from that. Like, I bet if I had a publicist nobody would want to interview me, but since I donít have a publicist I tend to get asked for interviews. Iím just pretty lucky that way. I just donít desperately want it, but I really appreciate it.

In this business it would be really hard, I guess. I have other things I enjoy doing, that isnít just performing. Thatís another thing I have got to have. Everything plays into it. I have a little baking company, and sell my cupcakes. I have to do that because then I have a job I can bitch about. Like Ďbutter is five dollars a pound!í ĎOh, fuck!, Iíve got to get these cupcakes outí - it keeps me grounded. So when you go off and work in this la-la world, with crazy people, I get to go home to my rabbit and bake.