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
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Actor-comedian Jerry Lewis played a character, Jerry Langford, with the same first name as his own. Jerry Langford was originally named Bobby Langford in the script. But Lewis suggested that the character be named after him so that they could film reactions from real passersby who recognized him. None of the other people in that scene were actors except for the cabbie and the woman on the payphone. See more »
When Rupert and Rita are in the bar, the level of beer in Rupert's glass varies about half an inch between shots. See more »
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!
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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
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