Amy Sedaris gets naughty with butter. Photo by Erin Broadley. Check out entire slideshow here.
A cross-section of enthusiastic crafters and comedy fans -- bespectacled students, gay couples, and hipster moms pushing their progeny in strollers -- gathered on the third floor of Barnes & Noble at the Grove on Thursday night for a Q&A and signing with Amy Sedaris, whose immensely useful (and spit-take hilarious) party-planning tome, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, is out now in paperback. With the seating packed and a line of fans snaking through the aisles all the way back to the Starbucks counter, Sedaris arrived smartly dressed in polka dots, red platform pumps and her favored chunky Buddy Holly specs. She immediately launched straight into a craft demonstration with an eager fan ("Yes, you! The Chinese one on the end!"), teaching her how to make a bean bag cozy with nylons and felt -- just the thing for getting that puffiness out of your orbits after a long day. (If it helps relax you, she added, "You could add lavender to it. Or coconut, whatever.")
After demonstrating a quickie craft amusement you can do with the Land o' Lakes butter container (take the squaw on one side, flip her over so her knees are up then paste it on the back of the other side; cut open the blouse on the top one and "it looks like you can see her titties!"), Sedaris fielded questions from the group which took an immediate detour when one lanky-haired fan begged her idol for an on-the-spot haircut. Initial disbelief gave way to giggly encouragement from the crowd and Sedaris brought her up for an impromptu makeover with craft shears that probably bore closer resemblance to a hedge-trimming than anything else. (Remarking that she used to cut her brother, the humorist David Sedaris's hair when they were children -- "He kept looking at my face in the mirror to see how it was going. Don't panic!" -- Sedaris was willing to oblige but when offered the remainders as a souvenir, frankly replied, "I'm not keepin' this shit!")
One satisfied, shorn fan down, the Q&A returned to a more familiar format with questions on everything from tips for convincing your family members that homemade holiday gifts aren't cheap, but rather from the heart ("It's gonna be hard for everyone this holiday... You can take a baked potato and stick pencils in it, then it's a pencil holder. And they can eat the potato!") to her appearance on Nickelodeon's fascinatingly surreal toddler program, Yo Gabba Gabba, which aired that morning. ("It was wonderful, I loved doing it. I played the Tooth Fairy... They made me this beautiful dress... and a tiara with a tooth in it.")
Prior to the event, L.A. Weekly asked Sedaris a few short questions on her indisputable hostessing prowess, and about potential futures for her most famous character:
L.A. Weekly: What's more unforgivable -- a bad hors d'ouerve or a bad joke?
Amy Sedaris: I can never remember a joke -- good or bad -- but I never forget a bad hors d’ouerve.
One of my favorite recipes in the book is the Southern Green Beans, because I'm a staunch believer in adding smoked pork to just about anything. In your expertise, is there anything you've discovered that bacon doesn't improve?
I would say cookies but I had a fantastic cookie at a Southern wedding a few years ago and I asked what made these so good. They said, "It's the sausage."
We've got one of two ladies coming into the White House in January who will have plenty of hostessing on their agenda in the coming months. What are some of the things Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain might find useful in the book?
Cindy might enjoy the drug chapter - I have a tip in there about filling your medicine cabinet with marbles to teach those nosey guests a lesson or two. I think Michelle would appreciate my meatloaf wreath because that's all about "changing it up."
Since we all know Jerri Blank knows a thing or two getting things done under the influence, what would might of her home entertaining tips include?
See the Gypsy chapter [in the book].
And speaking of Jerri, what's the status on a possible Strangers With Candy special? Is it that Colbert won't stop winning awards long enough to do it?
We have no plans for a special. And Colbert will always win awards -- he's the best!