At Home With Amy Sedaris looks and sounds like The Barefoot Contessa got a makeover from the architect of Peewee’s Playhouse.
Amy Sedaris welcomes viewers to her new TV show — a satire that plays out like a bizarro-world cooking series, except the recipes are for terrible crafts — with a grin stretched so wide it’s practically falling off her tiny face. She delivers so many left-field punchlines that it’s hard to catch them all before she moves on to the next instructional segment or throws to a separate sketch. As a host, she’s equal parts earnest and off-kilter, introducing one demented craft project after another — from necklaces adorned with decaying raisins to popsicle sticks dipped in glue and stray hair — all while keeping an eye out for pesky snakes that might be lurking behind yarn balls.
But make no mistake: Sedaris genuinely loves the world of crafting that she’s lovingly sending up. As seen in her books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2008) and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (2010) — co-written with her Strangers with Candy co-creator Paul Dinello, who also directs At Home With Amy Sedaris — Sedaris has long blended her fervent love of entertaining with her singular sense of humor. She loves making people feel at home and then pulling the rug out from under them with a burst of laughter. If anything, Sedaris finding a way to build a TV show around her slightly deranged interpretation of domestic expertise feels long overdue.
At Home is the perfect mashup of these sensibilities, letting her entertain comedians, characters, and her famous friends alike with a delighted smile even as she perverts tradition. In the premiere, Sedaris’s guests include Nick Kroll as a stringy-haired felon who joins her to make angel food ice cream cake (one of the episode’s purer sketches), John Early as a particularly sardonic guest (in a very dry and funny sendup of talk show interviews), and Sedaris and Dinello’s other Strangers with Candy co-creator Stephen Colbert as himself, but also her turtle sitter. Future guests will include Jane Krakowski, Michael Shannon, and Justin Theroux, among others.
I’d love to share a joke or two from the first episode that particularly made me laugh, but they whipped by at such a rapid and dense clip that I gave up on taking notes to just enjoy the thing. But I can say that, even knowing how Sedaris and Dinello love to twist viewers’ expectations, their punchlines rarely went where I thought they might. Sedaris scuttles around the At Home set with so much vibrating energy that she seems ready to take flight at any given moment — but by keeping at least one foot on the ground in spoofing recognizable formats like cooking shows and late-night talk shows, she’s better able to make reality weird from the inside out.
At Home also finds time for sketch sidebars. At one point, Sedaris temporarily tosses hosting duties to “A Lady Who Lives in the Forest” to teach us how to make mushroom brooches. Later, she cuts to a PSA from the Crafting Safety Council on the various dangers inherent to the seemingly innocuous hobby, with examples including everything from errant scissor stabbings to the apparently consistent presence of very sneaky and poisonous snakes.
If there’s anywhere the premiere stumbles, it’s that it can sometimes feel a bit insular, like the comedians are swapping inside jokes at a private dinner party. The episode also tries to pack a whole lot of material into 25 minutes, tops. But it rarely feels quite as crowded as it actually is, because the entire show is crowded — or, maybe more accurately, dense — by design.
As an overall package, At Home With Amy Sedaris is a gleeful hodgepodge of silly jokes, talk show satire, and bubbly innuendo delivered with the gusto of a host who refuses to have anything less than an amazing time. It’s fun, it’s wacky, it’s everything Sedaris does best in one Technicolor package. Watching it really does feel like being at home with Amy Sedaris, one of comedy’s purest and most earnest weirdos.