Subversive comic Amy Sedaris, 56, who created two 1990s shows with the then-obscure Stephen Colbert, wrote two best-selling Martha Stewart-ish satires replete with poor advice: Turn old pantyhose into plant hangers and bath sachets! Why not Milk of Magnesia face masks? After decades of waiting for TV to get weird enough for her dream job, hosting a homemaking show, she’s got it: At Home With Amy Sedaris, on TruTV Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. (9:30 CT). Now is a good time to discover it: The Nov. 21 "Nature" episode features nude tai chi, venomous snakes and a forest ranger (Law & Order's Christopher Meloni, 56), and on a Nov. 28 holiday special, her holy days are saved by Darrell Hammond, Jane Krakowski, Neil Patrick Harris and Breaking Bad's David Costabile (50), as Clarence, the It's a Wonderful Life angel.
Q. Your show is really inspired by two other shows, I Dream of Jeannie and At Home With Peggy Mann, a fabulously lame talk show you watched growing up in North Carolina, right?
Yes. My favorite game growing up was playing house, and Peggy Mann’s show was about what we were supposed to believe was her house. I said, “I want to sit around my house and interview people.”
Q. Besides the characters you play — a deranged version of yourself, a churchwoman, a wine lady — celebrities show up, right?
Stephen Colbert plays himself. Paul Giamatti plays a businessman — perfect casting.
Q. Your TV home is like the pink home inside Jeannie’s bottle — which was actually a recrafted Jim Beam 1964 Christmas decanter. Clever!
I just always liked that environment. You’re in a different world. That’s what I was trying to capture on the show: It’s my world, and you have to come to it. I didn’t want to go outside and see the sky.
Q. Are you mocking Martha Stewart?
No. I just don’t have the skill of Martha Stewart. A lot of people don’t. They want to make things Martha makes, but it never looks the same — ever. On my show, things look as good as I make them, and I’m not very good at it. I’m good at the ideas.
Q. But what about your famous dish? A baked potato with a sail made of construction paper, cheese and mushrooms?
The potato ships. I made those for real. I wasn’t trying to do a bad job. I want people to be inspired. Their apartment or house could look a lot better, but they’ll know how to entertain people. Maybe they’ll learn a little something about peppercorns
Q. Much of your decor is preposterous, but those paintings in your crafts room are serious.
The paintings are inspired by this Canadian artist I discovered, Maud Lewis [an arthritic, shut-in outsider artist whose paintings now sell for $45,000]. They just made that movie Maudie about her.
Q. Your show’s most iconic character may be Patty Hogg.
She’s a combination of every Southern woman I’ve ever come across, all put in one big body. I like their accents, how dominating they can be and how tight they can run a household. Patty’s a hurricane, a tornado, so a little goes a long way. Everyone knows a Patty Hogg in their life.
Q. You also play a hobo with a rich inner life. If the show flops, do you fear becoming a hobo?
No. But at least I look good as a hobo. I was always a hobo for Halloween. That costume wasn’t cheap.
Q. What’s the use of your show? Can it make one a better homemaker, or anything?
My goal is it might trigger you to get off the couch and make something, or make your home better. Or just laugh and be visually stimulated.
Q. Do you get better at the craft of comedy? Or is a comedian’s career over at 50?
I think it just starts at 50.