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The King of Comedy (1982) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (10) | Director Cameo (2) | Spoilers (2)
Robert De Niro used anti-Semitic remarks to anger Jerry Lewis while filming the scene where Rupert Pupkin crashes Jerry Langford's country home. Lewis, who had never worked with method actors, was shocked and appalled, but delivered an extremely credible performance.
Martin Scorsese has said that he thought Robert De Niro's best performance under his direction was in this film.
In the scene where Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard argue in the street, three of the "street scum" that mock Bernhard are Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, and Paul Simonon, members of the British punk rock band, The Clash.
Much of the scene where Rupert shows up at Jerry's house was improvised. Kim Chan improvised his lines when Jonno calls Jerry. The part where Jonno has troubling opening the front door was not planned. Chan really could not open the door and Jerry Lewis improvised his reaction.
When Jerry Langford is walking down the street, he is stopped by a woman talking on the telephone. When Jerry refuses to talk to someone on the phone, the lady says I hope you get cancer. This incident actually happened to Jerry Lewis. According to Scorsese, Lewis directed this segment himself.
Robert De Niro and Diahnne Abbott were married in real-life at the time.
Sandra Bernhard was allowed to improvise most of her lines as she had no formal acting training and Scorsese wanted her to be as natural as possible.
Martin Scorsese said later that making this film was an "unsettling" experience, in part because of the embarrassing, bitter material of the script. Scorsese said that he and Robert De Niro may have not worked together again for seven years because making The King of Comedy (1982) was so emotionally grueling.
In preparation for his role, Robert De Niro studied Richard Belzer's stand-up comedy acts.
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.
Jerry Lewis found Martin Scorsese's working method initially frustrating, as he was made to wait around for the first 3 days of shooting. Lewis told Scorsese that he was a professional and was going to get paid for all the time he was made to wait, and that if Scorsese wasn't going to use him, then he could tell him that he wasn't needed.
When Rupert is talking to Rita in a restaurant, a man in the background is imitating Rupert's hand gestures. The man is played by the actor Chuck Low, who also appeared in De Niro and Scorsese's next collaboration Goodfellas (1990) as Morrie Kessler.
Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Orson Welles were considered before Jerry Lewis. Carson was the one only that was actually offered the role before Lewis but he turned it down.
Jerry Lewis improvised his "I'm just a human being..." monologue to Rupert. Lewis and Sandra Bernhard mostly improvised the scene in which they are alone together.
While being profiled for "E! True Hollywood Story", Jerry Lewis was surprised at the critics praise of his performance. Lewis disregarded the praise and said that he was just playing himself.
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Martin Scorsese has stated that he "probably should not have made" the film.
According to Scorsese, the visual style was inspired by Life of an American Fireman (1903).
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In his monologue on the Jerry Langford show, De Niro's character Rupert Pupkin says that he is from Clifton, New Jersey. This is possibly an allusion to Andy Kaufman's abusive comedian persona, Tony Clifton, whom Pupkin resembles with similar hair, mustache and cheap blue suits.
In the original script, when Rupert and Rita meet in the diner, there is a stranger sitting behind Rupert who flirts with Rita; later this stranger propositions her successfully. Although he is glimpsed in the film, it is not clear what he is doing. Another change is that in the script, when Rupert is being interviewed by the authorities who are looking for Jerry, Rupert is beaten, this does not happen in the film.
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The talk show segments were filmed on videotape (like a real talk show) and later transferred to film. An unedited version of Jerry's monologue in its original video format can be seen as part of the DVD's special features.
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Writer Paul D. Zimmerman wrote the screenplay in the late-1960s with Dick Cavett in mind as the talk-show host.
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Meryl Streep turned down the part played by Sandra Bernhard.
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Liza Minnelli filmed a scene where she played herself on Jerry Langford's talk show and sang "New York, New York" but it didn't make the final cut. Minnelli only appears in the finished film as a life-size cardboard cutout, a guest on Rupert Pupkin's basement talk show.
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The first film released by Regency Enterprises.
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Entertainment Tonight called The King of Comedy the flop of the year at the end of the year in 1983.
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Frederick De Cordova, who plays talk-show director Bert Thomas, was Executive Producer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) from 1971 to 1992.
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Opening film at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.
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George Kapp ("Mystery Guest") was an actual NYC high school chemistry teacher in the 1960s-1970s.
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The looming directors' strike caused the film to go over budget.
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William G. Schilling filmed a role in the scene where fans approach Jerry as he walks down the street. But his scene was deleted.
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A digitally restored version of the movie is scheduled to be presented as the closing night feature of Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 27, 2013.
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Donald E. Westlake shelved his novel "The Comedy Is Finished" for the rest of his life without publishing it because he felt its premise was too similar to this.
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Shavuot, mentioned by Masha, is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (usually sometime in late May or early June).
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Jeannie Berlin unsuccessfully auditioned for the part played by Sandra Bernhard.
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Cameo 

Charles Scorsese:  The father of director Martin Scorsese as the First Man at Bar where where Rupert Pupkin is watching his own performance on the television.
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Cathy Scorsese:  The daughter of director Martin Scorsese as Dolores.
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Mardik Martin:  A friend of director Martin Scorsese as Second Man at Bar where Rupert Pupkin is watching his own performance on the the television.
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Lou Brown:  As the band leader of the Jerry Langford Show.
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Ed Herlihy:  As himself, the announcer of the Jerry Langford Show.
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Victor Borge:  As himself, a guest on the Jerry Langford Show.
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Joyce Brothers:  As herself, a guest on the Jerry Langford Show.
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Tony Randall:  As himself, an emergency guest host of the Jerry Langford Show.
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Edgar J. Scherick:  The film and TV producer as a television network president.
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Frederick De Cordova:  The film and TV producer as the producer of the Jerry Langford Show.
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Director Cameo 

Martin Scorsese:  Man in van - as Jerry Langford is walking across the street and is greeted by a woman at a phone booth where she wants him to talk to her nephew Morris, Scorsese can be seen in the driver's side of a green van.
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Martin Scorsese:  a TV executive.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Jerry Lewis suggested that his character be killed by Rupert at the end of the film but Scorsese rejected his idea.
In the scene where Jerry hits Masha, Jerry Lewis originally wanted Sandra Bernhard to fall through a glass table but Bernhard and Martin Scorsese refused for fear she might be seriously injured.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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