Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Tracey Ullman is back with Her Stash of Strap-Ons



Once called “Sybill – with a better agent” Tracy Ullman has impersonated an international array of humanity’s most colorful specimen. With the help of bulbous latex, Ulllman’s played everyone from a randy bearded Middle Eastern cabby to the snively mousey wall flower Kay.  Some twenty years after her American TV debut (which helped launch the Fox network and The Simpsons) Ullman is having the good fortune to see her Showtime sketch comedy return for a second season.  On "State of the Union" (premiering Sunday). Ullman morphs at the speed of one personality per minute. After the 2004 election, Ullman became naturalized as a American citizen. She said she wanted to feel more a part of the process. But one wonders if she also thought it would go down better to mock Americans if she herself were one. You know, the way only Jews can really tell Jewish jokes.
 
When she first started impersonating folks she had to spy on people and eavesdrop to pick up an array of accents. "Years ago, it was all about tape recorders," Ullman explained in a recent telephone interview. "Oh God. I used to ring people at car dealerships in Brooklyn to get a real accent and tape them over the phone. Now I use YouTube. It’s amazing whats available."
   
Lots more has changed since the 28 year old Ullman started out on the fledgling Fox, a newcomer network. It was on her show that Homer, Bart et al got their first minutes of fame. When their 2-minute milli-sit-com spun off to become the mega-hit "The Simpsons," Ullman was left in the dust. The Simpsons has generated some $2.5 billion for Fox and in 1992,  Ullman took their parent company to court for her fare share. She lost the lawsuit and later she joked that she hoped to one day have a regular 2-minute spot on "The Simpsons"
 
Instead, she's on Showtime, imitating (last season) Judi Dench (“I don’t think they respect age in this country, you have to import us Brits to do your wrinkly work.”) Arianna Huffington ("she's very imitatable because she sounds like Za Za Gabor") and a number of men too.
  
For her portrayals of men, Ullman has learned how important it is to "be conscious of your penis. They’re always touching them aren't they?" She went on to divulge: "I have various sizes of penises in my wardrobe room. I have so many different body types -- bottoms and breasts and hips and shoulders. It’s a lovely array of bodies I have and if I don’t store them carefully, the rats come and eat my breasts. We use a lot of birdseed -- once we stored them in a place where there were rats and we went: “the rats have eaten all the penises and breasts!”