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The King of Comedy (1982)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  18 December 1982 (Iceland)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 48,147 users  
Reviews: 218 user | 82 critic

Aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin wants to achieve success in show biz by stalking his idol, a late night talk-show host who craves his own privacy.


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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Herlihy ...
Ed Herlihy
Lou Brown ...
Band Leader
Loretta Tupper ...
Stage Door Fan
Peter Potulski ...
Stage Door Fan
Vinnie Gonzales ...
Stage Door Fan
Whitey Ryan ...
Stage Door Guard
Doc Lawless ...
Marta Heflin ...
Young Girl
Katherine Wallach ...
Autograph Seeker
Charles Kaleina ...
Autograph Seeker
Richard Baratz ...


Rupert Pupkin is obsessed with becoming a comedy great. However, when he confronts his idol, talk show host Jerry Langford, with a plea to perform on the Jerry's show, he is only given the run-around. He does not give up, however, but persists in stalking Jerry until he gets what he wants. Eventually he must team up with his psychotic Langford-obsessed friend Masha to kidnap the talk show host in hopes of finally getting to perform his stand-up routine. Written by Andrew Hyatt <dres@uiuc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Nobody knows Rupert Pupkin, but after 11:30 tonight no one will ever forget him. See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 December 1982 (Iceland)  »

Also Known As:

King of Comedy  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)


$2,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert De Niro and Diahnne Abbott were married in real-life at the time. See more »


When Rupert is waiting by the payphone, the other phones are hanging down. But in the next shot one of them is in its right place again. See more »


[first lines]
Ed Herlihy: And now, from New York, The Jerry Langford Show! With Jerry's guests Tony Randall, Richard Dreyfuss, Rodney Dangerfield, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Lou Brown and the orchestra, and little old me Ed Herlihy. And now say hello to Jerry!
See more »


References Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) See more »


Jerry Langford Theme
Written by Bob James
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The world that we live in...
22 June 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I hate the celebrity culture. I hate the fact that people become famous, just for the sake of being famous. I hate the fact that just because a celebrity gets married or has a child, that's front page news. I hate reality TV. I hate shows like "Pop Idol" (or "American Idol"), where normal people seem to think they are destined for A-list status. The fact that this film (The King of Comedy) is as old as I am, is either an all too worrying statement on society, or proves that it was way ahead of its time. Maybe that's why I love it so much.

De Niro has always amazed me, but the fact that he seems to understand this character so well is a little overwhelming. Whether he is delivering cringeworthy gags to a cardboard audience, or embarrassing himself, obliviously, in front of Jerry Lewis, his consistency is amazing. His motives are understandable to anyone who's ever had a dream. Perhaps it's De Niro's early ambition as an actor, that fuelled this shamefully overlooked performance.

Jerry Lewis is perfect as the disgruntled TV host. A man who lives a double-life of hilarious TV personality, with a bitter persona off-screen. You can certainly relate to this man's motivations, his love for his work, but his resistance to allow it run his personal life.

The only character I can't totally emphasize with is Sandra Bernhard's Masha (her actions aren't justified as well as De Niro's Rupert). But maybe that just goes with my aforementioned hatred for celebrity culture. The scary thing is, I know that people like this exist, and I didn't for a second, question the feasibility of her performance.

As usual, Scorsese shows brilliant control, despite this being one of his most modest works.

"The King of Comedy" should be looked upon, now more than ever, as a very important film, that has a lot to say about the world we live in and the obsessions that we consume. 9/10

101 of 113 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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ENDING- Real or Fantasy? fibrecementVHS
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De Niro's best performance? jeffheslop
The greatest of ironies... rpizzeghello
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