Amy Sedaris—so loopy on Letterman—is
taking her off-kilter comedy to Trio's new
Film Fanatic

LETTERMAN LOVERS know Amy Sedaris—from her memorable visits to the Late Show—as the flirty New York actress and stream-of-consciousness storyteller who bakes cupcakes every day, lives in the West Village with a rabbit named Dusty, and once had an imaginary boyfriend named Ricky who suffered an unfortunate stroke.

Fans of Sex and the City know her as Carrie's book publisher, and aficionados of the tangy, twisted Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy know her as Jerri Blank, the former junkie hooker—with a butt big enough to apply for statehood—who returns to high school at age 46.

While a theatrical movie version of Strangers is in preproduction, Sedaris, 43—who cut her comedy teeth at Chicago's Second City—is hosting a new afternoon-at-the-movies series on Trio called Film Fanatic. Like Sedaris herself, her movie-break segments are as irresistible as a box of Dots.

How are you enjoying being host of a show after so many appearances as a TV guest?
It's not coming easily and I don't feel I'm doing very well.


Trio's Film Fanatic isn't exactly mainstream, but it's not way out there, either. Do you think it'll be a cult hit along the lines of Strangers With Candy?
That's my audience—misfits and crazies. Strangers With Candy wasn't for everybody. We got a lot of bad reviews. But there needs to be more television that's not for everybody.

Are you eager to get back to Strangers With Candy?
We're writing the movie now, and it's been hard to revisit it. I've wondered whether I'm going to be able to do my character again because I did her every day for two years, in fatty suits and wigs and stuff. I've been practicing doing her facial expressions in the mirror. Every day I do a little bit more.

You're often the fill-in guest for Late Show With David Letterman. Do you enjoy your appearances as much as audiences appear to be enjoying you?
I love live audiences, and the energy of being out there is great. David is so in the moment, so right there, that there's no way he's going to let you fail. You just feel so safe. You never really know what questions he's going to ask, and in what order, so you can go way off the path.

Your conversations with Dave all seem so spontaneous and yet so appealingly absurd. How do you prepare for that?
I always keep a notebook to record the things that happen to me. So if the producers call me, I've got something in my back pocket. But if I say something on the show, it's probably the first time I've really said it out loud. If you have two weeks to prepare, you end up not really listening to the other person.

Are you a
Film Fanatic?

Check out these and
other movies on Trio

Navajo Joe (1966), April 24, 1 pm/ET
12 Monkeys (1995), April 24, 2:55 pm/ET
Performance (1970), April 25, 3:45 pm/ET
Putney Swope (1969), May 1, 1 pm/ET
Beetlejuice (1988), May 1, 2:45 pm/ET
Purple Rain (1984), May 2, 3 pm/ET
How did your years with Second City help prepare you to go on shows like Letterman's?
You learn the rules of improvising and then you learn how you can break them. It's about being in front of an audience every single night, and even when you fail at something, it's really great.

Do you like to watch comedy?
You have to drag me to a comedy. I can't stand it. I don't know what it is. I don't like to read funny books—but if it's drama and depressing, I'm the first one in line. I envy people who can perform like that, because I can't.

Do you consider yourself a great guest?
I don't watch TV and don't watch talk shows, so I don't really know what I'm getting myself into. I'm just not a good storyteller. I ramble on and go off the subject a lot, then I come back. It's nervous energy. I'm all over the place. The Letterman staff sends me a tape after the show and I'll watch it once with friends. But I'll never watch it again after that.

Is it true you always spend the Letterman appearance money at a high-end shoe salon?
You get a little paycheck when you do a talk show, and I always buy myself a pair of shoes. Then those are the shoes I wear the next time I'm on a talk show. And I always have a dress hanging up and ready, so if the producers call, I'm prepared. I love last minute.

Your career has unfolded rather than being directed or orchestrated. Is that a reflection of your life?
Yeah. It's probably better to have goals and know what you're doing. But then I've always got something else going on, like I have this little cupcake business on the side. It's the way I have to have things. Otherwise, if I just focused on performing, it would be rejection after rejection. I say my prayers every night. I'm so grateful to have an apartment and a bed. I always think they're going to take that away from me.

You looked pained when you said "rejection."
I'm awful at auditions. I go in there and suggest they pick someone else. "This is the actress you should get."

So, to hedge your bets about the performing career, you bake and sell cupcakes...
I made 400 today, baking them 12 at a time. I bake every day, and I still occasionally wait tables at Mary's Fish Camp (a Greenwich Village restaurant) when they have an emergency need. Waitressing is different when you really don't have to do it. But I love working with the public.

How far do you look ahead?
There are a lot of times when people say, "You know, we have this idea for you for 2005 or 2006." And I'm always like, "You're just assuming I'm going to be alive! I can't plan that far ahead. I can't even think about it." ѽ

© April 18, 2004   TV Guide-Ultimate Cable

Thanks to Kalman Kish for the image scans.