Getting Dark and Weird with Amy Sedaris and Scott Adsit
The Heart, She Holler, the odd little 11-minute-long Adult Swim show staring Patton Oswalt, Amy Sedaris and Heather Lawless is back for a 3rd season. Yes, it is as dark and weird as ever. It’s also even better than ever thanks to the addition of the hilarious Scott Adsit who’s taking over the role of Sheriff originally played by Joe Sikora. Talking to Adsit and Sedaris was not only fun, because I’m a fan of both of them, but also because it was really fun seeing how much they both truly admire each other.
I’ll be honest, when I was offered to interview you two I hadn’t seen the show, but I was like, “Oh my god, yes of course I want to talk to them!” because I’m such a big fan of both of yours. So, I’ve been binge watching the show, which is a whole lot of The Heart, She Holler.
Adsit: (laughing) Well, that’s interesting.
It’s wow… this is a really dark, fucked up thing you guys are doing.
Sedaris: I know. We just saw five episodes the other night. It was the first time I saw anything.
Were you familiar with the show before you joined it?
Sedaris: No. I was a fan of Vernon’s (Chatman) and John’s (Lee), but I wasn’t aware of the show. I didn’t know about it. Then I watched it and I loved it.
You guys are both playing characters that were originated by other actors. Is there a reason they swapped it out?
Adsit: Well I’m sure they would’ve liked to keep everyone that they replaced, but those people are very popular actors. They got busy and they wanted the show to go on, so they just, you know pulled kind of a Dick Sargent thing.
Sedaris: Right. I love that they did that. That’s so much fun.
Yeah, it’s fun seeing the different choices you guys make. And also, you guys are also very popular, beloved actors.
Adsit: I also like the idea that each new season is in a different realm of reality and so in the new realm that Patton’s character has wandered into, Kristen now looks like Amy.
Sedaris: That’s hilarious.
Adsit: Yeah, it makes sense narratively as well.
Yeah, they can kind of do anything.
Scott, for you, do you like playing characters more like Sherriff or Pete from 30 Rock or more the character from The Second City sketch Grandma’s Records? What’s your go-to?
Adsit: Well you know, I don’t like to think of myself as a comedic actor. I’m just an actor. I do whatever is needed, so what I like to play is everything. It’s kind of a boring answer, but the more variety I can find in my career the better. If I can play someone who’s dark and twisted, sad and impenetrable that’s great. If I can play someone who is over the top and chewing the scenery, that’s great too. I don’t have a preference, because it all seems like the same animal to me.
This is a very actor-y question, but do you think you put yourself into all of your characters?
Adsit: I don’t think you can avoid that, because you speak with the rhythm in your head, but I try to incorporate other mannerisms and rhythms I’ve seen in other people… or steal from them and incorporate them into the filter that is my instrument, which is me. So, yeah I’m trying to channel something outside of myself. It all goes through this sieve that is shaped just like me and the way that I think, so yeah there’s a lot of me just because there’s no avoiding it.
Besides obviously the original actor Joseph Sikora, who would you say is your influence for Sherriff?
Adsit: Umm… (laughing) I don’t want to insult anybody. He’s such an over-the-top character. He just kind of… you know, it might just be the accent that you start with and see where that takes you. He’s the smartest person… or I shouldn’t say that. He’s the most moral person in town, which is not saying anything.
Adsit: I try to approach him as being — If he’d of grown up somewhere else, he might’ve been a good man?
Adsit: If he had not been influenced by that town and the mindset that everyone grows up with, he might’ve been a different person. But he’s kind of stuck with what he was dealt. So, I start him at an innocence, and any corruption in him is just the norm. Any kind of corruption in your soul or in your attitudes towards others, or whatever your character’s quirks are, they’re all a norm there, so that they don’t see themselves anything but average.
How about you, Amy?
Sedaris: He explained it so well! I like to play over-the-top type characters. I mean, I’m a big fan of sets, you know. That’s one thing I loved about the show when I first saw it is that I really liked the look of it. I got the feeling where they literally threw a hole on the wall and we got to jump through it and all the sudden you’re in this completely different world. You know we never went outside, unless you wanted to go outside for lunch, but they were building sets while we were doing the scenes and you know, there were so many wigs you can play with and false teeth and costumes and it had a theatrical feel. That’s what I like so much about it. I can’t help but play broad. I like to think that I can bring it down a notch and try to play real, but then it’s not that much fun for me. I just like to have a lot of fun when I’m working. But watching the episodes, I’m like, “Oh my god!” I mean, not that they could’ve pulled me back, but… that’s the biggest I’ve been in my life. I mean, really my shoulders were up to my ears watching the five episodes.
I was telling John (Lee) the other night, “For once I thought that having a wig and teeth were too much.” And usually I’m like, “No more, more, more, more, more.” Because I like to hide behind things, but geez, I was really, just exhausted.
Adsit: The thing that Amy brings to it too is that she does have all the accoutrements about her, the makeup and everything and the crazy over the top, but then also, she’s still somehow real. She’s true to what she’s saying, and so you can buy the over the top, but still being grounded in some kind of reality. It’s really amazing.
Sedaris: Well, same working with you. I mean that helped too, because all you have to do is look in Scott’s eyes and you’re like, “Oh okay.” And you feel like you’re closer to the ground. You know what I mean? And usually that’s the last place I look when I’m talking to somebody. Like, what? Because I’m giving you nothing. (laughing)
You said you knew each other in the 90’s and that your paths crossed at The Second City. Did you perform together?
Adsit: I think we did improv sets together. Amy, you were just a few casts ahead of me on Mainstage. I was touring when you were on Mainstage, so I would understudy sometimes.
Sedaris: That’s right.
Adsit: I don’t know if you remember, but I do.
Sedaris: Yeah, I do remember. I remember us playing games together.
Adsit: We did a blackout that I’ve always remembered. I don’t know why, but it was about a dentist, during all these dentist headlines. You came in and said, “I don’t want to use anesthetics because I’m pregnant” or something like that. You didn’t want to be put under. So I said, “Oh, it’s going to be pretty painful.” And you said, “Well, just do whatever you do. I don’t care.” And so, I prepare your things and I climb on top of you.
They break into laughter
Sedaris: Oh, I do not remember that. That’s great.
Does doing The Heart, She Holler together throw you back into the time of doing shows at The Second City or is it just the fact that you’re both improvisers and once you’re an improviser you can always click back into it?
Sedaris: I guess I just know what school Scott came from, so I knew it was going to be playful and fun. I knew that he would go there. You know what I mean? I didn’t think that he’d be limited and say, “I can’t do that” or “This wig looks ridiculous on me.” I just knew it was going to be kind of fun and easy and nice.
Adsit: There’s a bit of a fraternity in The Second City alumni that we all kind of have a shared experience and so it always feels like a reunion. Even sometimes when I haven’t worked with someone before. It still feels like a school reunion.
You have that connection.
Adsit: Like there’s some kind of secret handshake we share. But also, it was a thrill for me. Because, Amy, I don’t think we’ve actually acted on film together before and that was a thrill, because I’ve always really loved watching you on camera, but also coming up through Second City. You know I would go watch Amy perform as much as I could, because she… you were in a great cast, but then also you were also the jewel in the crown of that brilliant cast.
Sedaris: Oh wow! Really?
Adsit: Oh yeah. I would go watch and just marvel at you and say, “Ooh, I want to be more like that.” So, to be on camera with you is really thrilling.
Sedaris: Wow! Thank you. That’s nice of you to say.
Amy, you’ve got this Hurshe character and characters like Jerry Blanks, but you also have this whole other side of you with the crafting books and being this much more Martha Stewarteque, beautiful woman. Tell us the difference between those characters and which you prefer. Which is more comfortable in your skin?
Sedaris: I kind of like a little bit of everything. I’ve always been that way. I’ve always had three jobs. I just like to do different things. The book started when I realized I was going to sit at home and wait for my phone to ring from an agent saying, “You’ve got this audition” or something. I realized I wanted to create my own work and make it happen. I wanted to hire people. I mean, on a Girl Scout level, little projects, little things. I just like to do a lot of different things, that’s all.
Do you guys get to improvise much on The Heart, She Holler?
Sedaris: No, not really. Everything is pretty planned out.
Adsit: You don’t want to really transgress on what they’ve already crafted, because it’s kind of delicate and beautiful.
Sedaris: And they’ve thought of everything. I can’t bring them one suggestion where they’d be like, “Oh that’s a great idea.” It’s always like they’ve thought of it and this is why they can’t do it or “this is why we’re doing it this way.” You know? Which I like. It’s nice.
If you had to watch Duck Dynasty all day versus Soap Operas, because that’s a bit what this show is a combo of, what would your choice is.
Sedaris: I don’t know what Duck Dynasty is.
Adsit: I’ve never seen Duck Dynasty.
Oh, well then you’re lucky. It’s just a horrible reality show of some pretty red-necked characters.
Sedaris: Oh, then Soap Operas.
Adsit: The only thing I know about them is that they’re not actually rednecks. They’re all kind of wasps that then grew beards and became rednecks.
Yeah, we all found that out later on.
Adsit: And they’re also homophobes.