Fantastic "State of the Union" Review!

March 20, 2008

210SA - San Antonio's weekly entertainment, culture and events publication

CHRIS QUINN: ‘State of the Union’ is in stitches with Ullman’s satire

I was all prepared to dive into a long diatribe about how intense exposure to boredom can inadvertently cause forms of leprosy to spontaneously breakout in performance artists.

I was going to link the above buffoonish statement into this column about Tracey Ullman's latest TV excursion: “Tracey Ullman's State of the Union” on Showtime.

Then I had a revelation that most critics have at one point in their career. Maybe I should watch the material first. So I watched a few episodes and wound up laughing my rear off. I had not laughed this hard in months. I had forgotten how funny Ullman is.

In fact, From now on, I may start watching these shows before I write about them.

It's like a whole new world is opening before my eyes. This is inspiring me to re-read my job description to see what else I have been doing wrong around here.

Because I totally judged the show based on what little I had seen in press releases and was convinced it was going to suck harder than Frank Caliendo's recent TBS debacle.

Instead, I spent an evening with a smile on my face and an Ullman on the tube.

The show follows the telling lives of both fictitious and real American personalities, all portrayed amazingly by Ullman.

Granted her impersonations sometimes seem like the same character, but they are good enough to keep you from changing the channel. So soon you realize you are watching the funniest new cable show since “Extras.”

What really makes Ullman's new series and impersonations shine is the material behind them.
The writing and jokes are almost the caliber of late-night talk monologues, because they are better. Ullman's ability to present an outlandish parity of America's elite is hilarious and dead on.

Andy Rooney, Rita Cosby, Laurie David, Campbell Brown, Nancy Pelosi, Cameron Diaz, Arianna Huffington and Reneé Zellweger are a few of the egocentric giants Ullman points her ripping commentary on.
When I saw her do Andy Rooney, I split my pants I laughed so hard.

Into this big-name game hunt, she intertwines characters through which she tells the story of modern America as seen through her fairly new naturalized eyes. (By the way, Welcome to the club! Congratulations! Oh, just so you know, Baby Boomers are retiring and we have to pick up the bill. So grab the nearest AARP member and make with the taxes already.)

Despite all the crazy junk flung about this world, a self-centered nature seems to reign. Ullman keys into this brilliantly, because no one embodies a self-serving, self-righteous and self-important attitude more than celebrities, journalists and politicians.

They suck? We suck? Yes and maybe. But at least through eunuch comedians like Ullman, we can laugh about it.

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