Richardson — My very favorite story about Amy Sedaris (retold by her brother, writer David Sedaris, in one of his memoirs) involves her being selected to be a part of a photo essay and profile for a New York City publication. In the makeup chair, she asked the makeup artist to make it look as if she had been badly beaten—bruises, black eyes, the works. The makeup artist duly complied.
After the shoot, Sedaris went to her waitressing job without taking her makeup off. One patron asked if she was alright.
“Oh yes!” said Amy. “I’m in love!”
Amy Sedaris was a troll before we had a word for that. She pulled this stunt not for TV cameras or for her brother’s book, but just because it amused her.
That’s what makes Amy the perfect choice for this year’s Ernie Kovacs Award, given annually by Dallas Videofest to bold, experimental comics who conjure the spirit of Kovacs. This year marks the first time the award has been given to a woman.
In terms of Sedaris’ body of work, she might be described as a dabbler. You may know her as Princess Caroline from Bojack Horseman, or as Jerri Blank, the star of the erstwhile Comedy Central show Strangers With Candy, or from her tongue-in-cheek cooking and entertaining show on Tru TV, At Home With Amy Sedaris. She’s written books in the same vein.
She talked about all of this during her interview and Q&A event to accept the Kovacs award at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson on Saturday night.
It was a breezy and fun event. Sedaris is confident and very comfortable in her own skin. She told elucidating stories about her collaborations with Stephen Colbert and her brother David, and brought the house down with an impromptu Barbra Streisand impression.
She’s also, once again, a troll. She saves breakaway glass from movie and TV sets so that she can stage fights—windows open, so neighbors can watch with alarm—in her apartment. She did that with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
It may not be great that she does those things, but it’s hard not to give her a pass. She’s a troll with a heart of gold. She rewatches her shows with the volume off so that she can ascertain she’s bringing enough physical comedy to the stage that deaf people can still get something out of it. She fills her books with pictures so that illiterate folks can have a laugh, too.
All of this together suggests a person whose motives are pure and uncomplicated through and through—she just wants to make herself laugh, she just wants to make others laugh, and she wants to make sure that everyone can join in on the fun. Dallas VideoFest knocked it out of the park again.