If Amy Sedaris was British I’d be starting a petition right now for her to be named an official national treasure who the BBC should hire 24/7. Admittedly she may die due to sleep deprivation and I haven’t thought this through, but either way I wish she was on our screens more than she is. Thankfully the US have finally started noticing how great she is with supporting roles in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and No Activity, and she also provides the voice of Princess Carolyn in the sublime Bojack Horseman, while her TruTv series is only getting better with each and every episode.
Every episode of At Home With Amy Sedaris is a very special episode, tackling a theme or concept in depth, with the first of the new season covering teenagers. Starting with Amy buying alcohol for kids thinking that they’re going to use it for cooking, and the kids walking off laughing saying “Whatever old man” it’s funny from the outset as Sedaris happily sends herself up, and the laughs come thick and fast for the next twenty three minutes. Discussing how teenagers strike fear in to adults in the same way the words “Foreclosure and “Colonoscopy” do, Amy even has “a real live teenager” for us because she’ll do anything for her audience. She begins educating us all by going through her old teenage clothes and keepsakes, all of which have mysteriously shrunk in the wash, even a key, which allows Sedaris to be very silly and also disturb as it turns out she has six wisdom teeth.
From an ongoing joke about members of the adult cast throwing tantrums to an appearance from Matthew Broderick who’s written a book about teenagers, with him learning “Teenagers didn’t want to be in the book” (and turning in a subtle but delightful performance), it continues to be consistently funny and unpredictable. Amy calls on a variety of friends and experts to help the youth of today out, who inevitably are either rubbish or unsettling, with a knife enthusiast being the best of these as he chillingly rambles on about his love for sharp objects. It also features a tower of meat, a poster for a production of 12 Angry Jesus’s, and Amy sitting on a branch with a teenage boy singing a song with him, all of which was gloriously ridiculous and laugh out loud material, and as with every episode it’s completely unpredictable, you never know what will come next from the mind of Sedaris.
The second episode was even better, with this week’s special episode seeing Amy wishing to use her platform for positive change given the state of the world these days, and so it was all about hats. I mean, how could you not have guessed? The dialogue sparkles throughout as she talks about previous episodes, commenting “And who could forget whatever last week’s was”, while the guest stars delivered and then some, with James Urbaniak featuring as a man who makes women’s hats for fruit, allowing for a beautifully daft segment where we got to see a raspberry in a beret, a pear in a wedding veil, a plum in a nurses hat, and a watermelon in a swimming cap. Naturally it goes wrong when Amy upsets Urbaniak with a throwaway joke and he gets angry with her, Urbaniak is superb at playing pissed off characters (and all other characters, for that matter) and has a great moment when he storms off.
The main plot of the episode develops when Amy mentions how she plans to create a hat for hat expert Yves Saint Au Jus, but then shockingly comes down with “Crafter’s block”, a condition that affects her deeply and so she’s soon dashing around trying to make a hat out of a variety of unsuitable items, before downing a bottle of vodka and then falling to the ground cackling and crying. All of which highlights just how good an actress Amy Sedaris is, her mania is absolutely believable but also very funny, and she’s a sympathetic character even if she is pointlessly cruel to her assistant Puja (Moujan Zolfaghari). Clearly insecure it adds another layer of depth to this unusual character, who’s becoming increasingly complex with each new episode.
An advert break follows and when the show returns Amy quips “I want to thank you for all of the letters of support I received in the commercial break” which once again led to much laughter as I’m not convinced the US postal system is quite that effective, before she discusses her problem with Alice Brittlecrunch (the majestic Jessica Walter) her first craft teacher, though it quickly becomes apparent that Brittlecrunch used to use the kids as a “campfire sweatshop” to make moccasins, and she becomes paranoid that Amy’s trying to set her up, screeching “What other vicious rumours are you spreading?” and checking to see if she’s wearing a wire, only for Amy to respond “We all are”. Because that is the nature of tv after all. It’s a glorious section of the show and Walter and Sedaris are so fantastic together that I hope it’s only a very short time before the two of them are given their own series, maybe solving hat related crimes or something like that.
Much more madness ensues including clips from a video which fails to help, and then Amy gets stuck in a walk in freezer – “What a fitting end to a hatless loser” – though there is a happy ending because this is almost always an upbeat show (well, by the end at least, there’s plenty of strange bleakness in most episodes before that), including another song and a romantic moment which involves an appearance from Campbell Scott who makes for a superb lover of hats, and even it being a hallucination doesn’t spoil things, if anything it just makes it more hilarious.
At Home With Amy Sedaris really is a gem, it’s shockingly well written, absurdist fun that I can’t imagine anyone not loving a great deal, and we’re incredibly lucky that it’s on our tv screens for a second batch of episodes given how long Sedaris was left in the cold. With this and Jon Glaser Loves Gear, Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters and I’m Sorry Tru Tv is creating some of the best comedy around, and I only hope a huge amount of people are watching these shows so that they carry on making them for years to come.