Martin Scorsese's THE KING OF COMEDY is a brutally funny depiction of the dangers of celebrity fandom. Robert De Niro plays the ridiculously inept Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring comic who idolizes talk-show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Still living at home with his mother, Rupert spends his days trying to arrange a meeting with his hero. When he isn't doing that, he's at home talking to cardboard cutouts in his makeshift television studio. After Rupert convinces Rita (Diahnne Abbot), a pretty bartender, that Langford has invited them to his house outside the city, the reality of the situation makes itself painfully apparent upon arriving at the star's front door. Trouble is, Rupert's too delusional to take the hint. He eventually hatches a plan with an equally obsessed fan, Masha (a scene-stealing Sandra Bernhard), to kidnap Langford in exchange for a chance to let him deliver his routine on the air. De Niro and Lewis deliver scorching performances that are at once tragic and hysterical, making for an unsettling yet highly stimulating viewing experience. Paul D. Zimmerman's script takes the time to truly crawl inside the mind of a lunatic, exposing celebrity worship as the ludicrous problem that it is. THE KING OF COMEDY stands firmly as one of Scorsese's most terrifying films.
Main Cast & Crew:
Martin Scorsese - Director
Robert De Niro
- Format: DVD
- Run Time: 109
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 024543038948
- Genre: Comedy
- Rating: PG (MPAA)
- Release Date: December 2002
A savage critique of celebrity fanaticism gone off the deep end, THE KING OF COMEDY is a truly unsettling portrait of a delusional man who becomes infatuated with a talk-show host. When he realizes that his hero wants nothing to do with him, he kidnaps him in one final attempt to make it on the air. Hysterical and biting, Martin Scorsese's film contains unforgettable performances from Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, and Sandra Bernhard.
Theatrical release: February 18, 1983. Filmed in 1981 on location in New York City. Estimated budget: $19 million. The film is believed to be Martin Scorsese's response to criticism that his film TAXI DRIVER was in some way responsible for John Hinckley's assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1980. The film marked comedian Sandra Bernhard's first feature role; she has since gone on to star in her own concert films and to appear in a recurring role on TV's ROSEANNE. Johnny Carson was originally asked to play the role of talk-show host Jerry Langford; he refused, fearing that life might imitate art and that he would be kidnapped. Johnny Carson's TONIGHT SHOW producer, Fred DeCordova, appears as Bert Thomas in the film. The film was the lowest-grossing release by a major studio in 1983. Don't miss the scene in the restaurant when a man in the background mimics everything that Robert De Niro does.
"...Ahead of its time....[Watching De Niro] is an entertainment in and of itself..." - 11/01/1994 Premiere, pp.119-20
Included in The New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1983" - 12/25/1983 New York Times, p.II:15
"...DeNiro turns in another virtuoso performance for Scorsese....Diahnne Abbott is excellent..." - 02/09/1983 Variety
"...[A] modern-day classic..." - 12/20/2002 USA Today, p.10E
"[R]arely less than riveting....Scorsese never lets the tone topple into farce, refraining from stylistic fireworks to let the performances command the spotlight." - 08/01/2004 Sight and Sound, p.75
"The movie was not conceived for Mr. Lewis, but it is unimaginable without him." - 04/17/2014 New York Times