Kay Clark

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For the sport shooter, see Kay Clark-Miculek

Kay Clark
character
Tracey Ullman as Kay Clark.jpg
First appearance Saturday Live
Created by Tracey Ullman
Portrayed by Tracey Ullman
Information
Gender Female
Occupation Paper products distribution
Bank teller
Family Mildred (mother)
Father (deceased)
Spouse(s) Kurt Rasmussen (deceased)
Significant other(s) Derrick (boyfriend)
Relatives Aunt Marjorie
Nationality British

Kay Clark is a fictional character created and portrayed by actress-comedian Tracey Ullman. She is the character Ullman has portrayed for the longest time, spanning over four decades and three television series, the character was born out of a sketch for a guest appearance on the British television comedy and music show Saturday Live in 1986.

Origins[edit]

Ullman says that Kay is based on a woman who worked at her bank in The Midlands.[1] "Basically, she's forty-three, has never been touched by a man and never will be. There's always one like her in every office who sells sanitary napkins and stamps, with her nice polyester ass waddling across the room. Once, at an office party, someone got her behind the filing cabinets, and he's never lived it down. People go, 'Oh, you and Kayyy - 1982....' 'Shut up! I never did nothing with her!' I love people like that."[2]

For the Fox show series, Kay works for a paper-products distribution company, a job Ullman once held; in her HBO series, Kay was employed as a bank teller.

Biography[edit]

Kay is described an eternal optimist. "Musn't crumble, Kay." She has devoted herself to caring for her invalid mother. While she loves her mother, Kay has outbursts of hatred for her from time to time, though she's quick to scold herself for such behavior.

Kay wears clothing made from polyester, along with a pen on a string which hangs around her neck, she cuts her own hair using a ceramic kitchen bowl and scissors. Kay's mode of transportation is a moped; she is sometimes shown wearing a helmet.

The Tracey Ullman Show[edit]

Kay, a Rhode Island paper distribution company office worker, is the constant victim of her coworkers', and even boss', taunts and pranks. Kay takes it all in stride, though, she frequently checks in on her mother on the phone. "Hello, Mummy, it's (draws out) Kaaaay." We never see her mother on screen or hear her on the phone. We do know that she is an invalid, the cause of Mummy's injuries are revealed in the sketch "Kay Babysits":

Once there was a little girl about your age who was told never, never to listen to the radio, because her mother said it was the Devil’s instrument and would give her bad thoughts. And one day, she couldn’t resist, and listened to it anyway. And she heard a weather report saying that a storm was coming. Now later, her mother discovered that the radio was warm. And she asked the little if she played it. And the little girl lied. “No,” she said. Then she saw her mummy leaving the house in a summer frock, she couldn’t tell her to take an umbrella, could she? No. Because she lied, that day, her mother got caught in the storm and came down with a cold. An illness that got progressively worse overly the next thirty years until she was a completely invalid, unable to do a single bloody thing for herself. And do you know what happened to that little girl who lied? She felt so responsible that she let her mother interfere with every aspect of her life. Until that little girl dedicated her whole self of taking care of her mother.

— Kay

Kay doesn't have any friends. It's revealed that she did have a boyfriend, Derrick in her youth.

Tracey Takes On...[edit]

Kay is presented as a 42-year-old Californian bank teller (and sometimes branch manager) at Van Nuys Savings and Loan, she took a work transfer from the bank she worked at in England to its American branch to take advantage of the American health care system for her mother. She lives in Panorama City. Unlike her portrayal in The Tracey Ullman Show, Kay does not face the wrath of her nasty coworkers. While her Mother is not seen on screen, she is heard through a series of beeps from her bedroom. Kay's mother became an invalid after having been involved in an accident where the sidecar in which she was traveling broke free from the motorbike Kay's father was driving. "'I didn't know the damn motorbike would part company with the sidecar, Mildred,' he shouted over his shoulder, as he sped off up Shaftesbury Avenue."[3] Later, Kay's mother warned her: "I remember the cold, steely glint in Mother's eye as she stared up at me from her iron lung. 'Kay,' she said, 'don't ever marry. All men will try to kill you, after they've done nasty things to your downstairs areas.'"[3] In the episode "Tracey Takes On... Death", Kay's father is revealed to have run off with her aunt, Marjorie.

Kay is an avid reader of espionage fiction; in the book Tracey Takes On, Kay's age is revealed to be 42.[4] She seeks medical marijuana for Mother in the episode "Tracey Takes On... Smoking" and inadvertently becomes a recreational user herself. Work and acting as a caregiver have given Kay very little time for a social life, she has never lost her virginity. After she takes part in a prison pen-pal program, attorney Sydney Kross (Ullman) convinces her to marry an inmate in hopes of sparing him the death penalty. Kay follows through with the quickie wedding, but her marriage does not result in a stay of execution from the governor. Kay's husband is placed in a gas chamber, leaving her, as Ullman refers to her, as "the virgin widow."[5] In the series finale, "Tracey Takes On... The End of the World," Kay's mother finally dies. Kay now has her freedom - "Three hours and fourteen minutes of it!" she exclaims.

Tracey Ullman's Show[edit]

Kay is presented as a pensioner living in England with her mother who is 103. Unlike in previous shows, Mother is not an invalid, she has had many medical procedures performed, though. For the first time in the character's television history, Mother appears on-screen (played by actress Joan Linder). Kay was shown to be a year old at the time of King George VI's coronation in her first appearance in series one, making her nearly 80 years old. Kay and Mother live in New Malden.

Ullman in 2016 on Kay in Tracey Ullman's Show:

Kay is somebody I've done for many years, as you realize, because I did her on the original show in America and Americans used to like her. She's obviously a virgin who's lived with her mom, who's taught by her mom. There was a woman that was this character, she just broke my heart. She would always dress very plainly and have pics of cats at her desk. I remember and she did speak like that, "Hello! Good morning!" She used to work at a bank that I banked at when I was like twenty years old and she’s always killed me. She wore her little polyester pants and her pen around her neck. People have gotten the empathy behind it and the poignancy and the sadness. She's like a classic sort of character for me. And my daughter loves me being that character, she said, "That is you, Mom." I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Part of your personality is Kay." So I decided to do her again.

And I brought in a brilliant woman to be Mother this time. You love to laugh at her; I love this woman. She's called Joan Linder and she was in the same year at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts as Joan Collins. That's what Joan Collins really should look like. [Laughs] She's great, this actress. She shows up and she says, "Would you like me to take my teeth out?" We're like, "Yes. Brilliant."[6]


In series two, during a flood, Kay and Mother take shelter in their attic. While looking for something to keep them warm, she discovers a postcard addressed to her from a man inviting her to the cinema, it is dated 1965. Mother has been keeping a variety of correspondents from her for decades: a marriage proposal, acceptance of her application to a university, a job offer, and an invitation from a group of people to join them on holiday; in episode six, Kay tracks down her cousin Debbie from Australia who is doing their family tree. Kay learns that she has a large extended family. Kay has been under the impression that her only family is Mother (and Mother is keen on keeping it that way). Kay, overjoyed at the news that she has a family and the invitation from Debbie to come to Australia and meet them all, Mother (worried, and obviously lying) blurts out that Kay's father was not really her father, her real father was a sailor. Kay is heartbroken.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Froelich, Janis D. (3 October 1993). "Versatile Tracey Ullman show she hasn't lost her knack in skits". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  2. ^ Zehme, Bill (August 27, 1987). "Foxy Lady". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X. 
  3. ^ a b Ullman 1998, p. 107
  4. ^ Ullman 1998, p. xx
  5. ^ "Kay". Tracey Takes On... HBO. 
  6. ^ "Tracey Ullman Talks HBO's "Tracey Ullman's Show," Grandma Camilla, Getting (Literally) Duded Up and More". Channel Guide Magazine. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 

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