I've heard it said before that drunk adults are basically just giant toddlers, and I’d like to think that this image is quite fitting for Amy Sedaris as she plays the part of the always at least mildly intoxicated hostess in I Like You: Hospitality under the Influence. There is something disarming (i.e. naïve and charming in the way of a toddler) in Sedaris’ complete repudiation of pretension in her party-planning guide/cookbook; the title itself pokes fun at the somewhat awkward nature of entertaining guests in hopes that they will feel ‘liked.'
Sedaris, off the bat, starts her book by trying to negate the conception of parties as “so intimidating, so overwhelming, so terrifying” or “a big extravagant to-do.” She seems to highlight the absurdity of the ‘party paradox’: an event that by nature is meant to be a societal celebration of happiness, accomplishment, etc. has the uncanny ability to devolve into the main source of anxiety and stress for the host or hostess. As a person who was involved in one older sister’s wedding already and is now in the early stages of planning the other sister’s, I can fully attest to the truthfulness of this sentiment.
I think Sedaris is making a smart and effective social commentary in this regard, as she humorously throws the unattainable standards and expectations of throwing a party into sharp relief for her readers. The style and form of the book itself as imitating a proper guidebook (despite its eccentric content) accentuates this commentary. I definitely see similarities between Amy Sedaris’ style and her brother’s; both are expert at making their audience feel at ease through self-deprecating humor. This type of humor offers a collective feeling of relief or release for all parties involved and is the direction that I find most modern humor to lean towards. As Sedaris herself says, “When a major setback occurs, don’t snap your bean. Make a joke out of the situation, turn it around.” Sedaris manipulates this situation of omniscient hostess bestowing her invaluable guidance in order to get her whole philosophy on life across to her readers. As with a snag in the flow of a party, you must take setbacks in life in stride.