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12 Quick Questions for Amy Sedaris

Actress stars in new comedy, ‘Theater Camp’

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Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Amy Sedaris, 62, is known for her quirky style of comedy. She played the zany and unstable Mimi Kanasis in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a 46-year-old high school freshman in Strangers With Candy and voiced an ambitious pink Persian cat in BoJack Horseman. In her latest project, the off-kilter film Theater Camp, she plays a beloved camp director who unexpectedly falls into a coma, causing her motley crew of underlings to take over. As expected, hilarity ensues.   

Did you go to theater camp as a kid?
I didn’t go to theater camp, but I did get into theater when I was young. My first role was playing the rooster in Charlotte’s Web. I remember the acting teacher saying that I was really good at making faces. That stuck with me because all my muscles are in my face. I’m a mugger!

What would be your dream role in a play?

It was always [Jessie Cates in] ’night Mother. I don’t have the acting chops, but I put it on one night here in New York City. I made spaghetti and meatballs for the audience because I wanted everyone to be a little distracted so they wouldn’t know how bad my acting is. The only thing I changed was that I added a second gunshot at the end. I knew [playwright] Marsha Norman wouldn’t give me the OK to do it, but I figured I could do it for one night. I’m drawn to drama.

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You’ve worked with so many big names, including Nicole Kidman and Dolly Parton. Who else would you love to work with?

I’ve always thought of John Malkovich. Again, I don’t have the acting chops — he is someone who would terrify me, but I would love to watch him work. Regina King is another one. When I saw her in How Stella Got Her Groove Back I was like, Who is that? I love her.

You play space mechanic Peli Motto in The Mandalorian. Were you a Star Wars fan? 

I wasn’t. I mean, I saw the movies in the ’70s like everybody else. I never got that into [it], but I absolutely love being in that world. I love the sets, the costumes. I like that it takes [artistry] from the editors to set design to makeup and hair. Then [I get to] stand there and say these crazy lines. And I love a job that requires a uniform. I’ve always had jobs that involve uniforms like Winn-Dixie and Girl Scouts — I have a lot of my uniforms in storage. Any job that gives me a uniform I’m like, yeah, this is perfect for me.

How did you prepare for that role? Are you good at fixing things in real life?

I’m not, but I am good at rigging. I have a good imagination where I’m like, How can I fix that shelf now, with what I have? I learned that from my father. It’s not a matter of waiting until the next day to go to the hardware store; you have to figure it out in that moment. I am good at that.

If you weren’t in show business, what career path do you think you would have chosen?

I thought of becoming a social worker when I was younger, because I’m a really good listener. I really want to try to help people, but then I would imagine that would be really hard. Helping people in need makes me feel good.

spinner image amy sedaris and lizze broadway sitting on couch in still from ghosted
Sedaris also stars alongside Lizze Broadway in the movie “Ghosted,” which is now streaming on Apple TV+.
Frank Masi/Apple TV+

In At Home With Amy Sedaris, you showed off your quirky homemaking skills. What’s your number one tip for entertaining guests?

I used to [host] larger groups of people, but now it’s more one-on-one. Just make sure you’re prepared, so when your guests come over, you’ve got everything good to go. It’s all just planning ahead.

What is one food you can’t live without?

Popcorn. I pop it with olive oil. I like white popcorn over yellow popcorn because it’s softer on my teeth. It’s really hard to find here in New York. I tried ordering online, and they sent me to yellow anyway, so now my sister mails it to me from North Carolina. Dentists don’t like you to eat popcorn. They say it’s really bad for your teeth.

If you could reboot one of your past projects with a sequel or more episodes, which one would it be and why?

I never wanted to do a reboot of Strangers with Candy, but I always wanted to do a Christmas movie of Strangers with Candy. I love Christmas movies, and I always thought it would just be so funny for Jerri Blank to have a boyfriend and she’s got to buy him a present.

You’ve written several books and have collaborated with your brother, author David Sedaris. How was that experience?

David’s a hard worker, and he really expects a lot. We laughed really hard, but he always did all the writing. I’d improvise something and he’d go with it. There’s nothing better than working with my brother David. He’s just so creative. I’ve always felt that since I was little. He’s the one who got me into playing characters. He’s a good laugher, a good audience. When you make David laugh, that feels pretty good.

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Any bucket list items you want to accomplish before turning 65?

It’s funny, I’ve got more of a bucket list for my [pet] rabbit than for myself. [I think I would like] to tag along on some of David’s book tours because he goes to all these countries. I really want to try to get back to Greece. So maybe next time he has a book tour in Greece I’ll tag along. Being around family makes me happiest, so if I can do some traveling with members of my family, that would be great.

What advice would you give your 20-something self?

I always ask myself that question. I think going with my gut and being in the moment is the way I was when I was 20, and I’m still that way now. 

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