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December 19, 2014

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, season three -- An early look

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 27th 2009 11:03AM
Tracey Ullman's State of the UnionBritish female comedy impressionists like Catherine Tate should pay royalties to Tracey Ullman for copying her schtick. Ullman was the original and still remains one of the best, if not THE best, at what she does.

As with the first two seasons of her Showtime series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, she pretends to be, or rather becomes, different personalities across the United States over a single day with an ubiquitous announcer informing us of who she is and where in the country she is located. She even impersonates various celebrities on the way, and sometimes she is more than one of them at the same time.

Like most of America, I was first introduced to Tracey Ullman the comedian from her old Fox show, The Tracey Ullman Show, which also introduced the world to The Simpsons (and before that she was a singer in the 80's with several hit singles in the U.S. and U.K.). I also managed to catch a few episodes of her HBO series Tracey Takes On... While Ullman remains perpetually young and incredibly talented in this series, her humor has gotten a little more subtle and acerbic.

Ullman's humor has always been situational rather than the simple set-up and punchline, although that sort of humor certainly exists within the series. An example includes showing a group taking a tour of a Holocaust Museum and speaking of those who have perpetrated horrible crimes against the Jews, then having a likeness of Bernie Madoff in the center of it. It's more about the character and what the character says about America and society, in general.

Unlike Ullman's other works, she rarely shares the stage with any co-stars, possibly because very few can keep up with her as she plays her characters. Highlights include Tracey playing Penélope Cruz playing Salma Hayak, Ruth Madoff (Bernie's wife) and one woman who can't live without being on the cell phone or Internet (and nearly causing several traffic accidents on the way).

At this stage in her career, Tracey Ullman probably doesn't need to work. However, not giving her a show would be tantamount to treason since it takes an outsider (albeit one who is now a U.S. citizen) to best show America its own warts and failings. At least it's shown with love.

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, the third season, premieres Jan. 25 at 10:30 PM on Showtime.

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beergas

Catherine Tate got to me after Doctor Who played well by her. Ullman bits wore off tho she was game in A Dirty Shame and her bits later helped to round her out in that goofy one.
Tate doesn't always hit the mark but that's half the fun, waiting to see what she does get right. Tough gig since a
lot seems to depend on 'the fly' vs scripted ones like what Ullman did or Ab Fab, Served, Appearances did.
All go for the nutty Brit side but in dif ways. Enjoy them for what they are and leave it at that.

December 27 2009 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ian

Much as I am not a fan of Catherine Tate, she is not and has never been to my knowledge an impressionist; she does not imitate other celebrities or well-known figures, but instead does characters in situations... I think this reviewer has got a tad confused...

As for Tracey Ullman, she ceased to be funny to many Brits soon after she upped sticks to the USA - her angle on humour changed radically to the point where it no longer connected with her original audience; there's just no common points of reference anymore. The BBC attempted to show a couple of runs of her USA shows and then gave up due to no one taking any interest.

December 27 2009 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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