Punchline (1988)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  7 October 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 6,323 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 13 critic

Steven Gold is a stand-up comedian who is flat broke and has recently dropped out of medical school. He and several others work regularly at the Gas Station, a New York comedy club. The ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Madeline Urie
Pam Matteson ...
Utica Blake
George Mcgrath ...
Singing Nun (as George Michael McGrath)
Albert Emperato
Barry Neikrug ...
Ángel Salazar ...
Rico (as Angel Salazar)
Joycee Katz ...
Mac Robbins ...
Billy Lane
Max Alexander ...
Mister Ball


Steven Gold is a stand-up comedian who is flat broke and has recently dropped out of medical school. He and several others work regularly at the Gas Station, a New York comedy club. The wages are lousy and everybody hopes for the big break. Lilah Krytsick is housewife with an ambition to be a stand-up comedian, however she doesnt seem to have the talent. Steven takes her under his wings and teaches her the art of comedy and humour. But when a TV station arranges a comedy evening at the club, Steve sees his opportunity for fame and stardom. Their friendship seems quickly forgotten and now it's every man and woman for him- or herself! Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Punch Line  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)


$21,032,267 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture has been notable for Tom Hanks rendition of Gene Kelly's famous dance number from the Golden Age of Hollywood's classic musical Singin' in the Rain (1952). See more »


When Steven and Lilah are riding the #7 subway, the Manhattan terminus of the line is shown as Lexington Ave. The actual terminus should be 42nd St./ Times Square. See more »


Albert Emperato: You don't want carpet! You want an area rug!
See more »


References Singin' in the Rain (1952) See more »


Saber Dance
(from ballet "Gayaneh")
Music by Aram Khachaturyan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Rarely-Funny Comedians Struggle to Find What They're Searching For
22 July 2014 | by (Bradenton, FL) – See all my reviews

A moderately hard-edged drama about the private and public lives of comedians, with a special emphasis on the desperate lengths they'll go to for a laugh, or to get an edge on the competition. Sally Field is the focal figure, a mousey housewife who feels destined for greatness but can't locate her own voice, while Tom Hanks plays a big supporting role as a natural performer who's an irresponsible, selfish a-hole behind the scenes. It's an uneven picture that doesn't really click for a number of different reasons. Primary among them is this unspoken sense that a movie about comedians should be funny. Though the on-stage segments are indeed quite flat, big punchlines (if you'll forgive the pun) aren't really the point of this story. Less forgivable is the awkward, cloudy relationship between Hanks and Field that dominates the plot, and the constant shifts in tone from one scene to the next. I never got a real handle on where the film was going, what it wanted to be or to say. That writing jokes is hard, I guess? Sometimes the happiest guy in the spotlight is actually a poisonous, miserable bastard? A complicated, tentative take that's puzzling in its lack of a firm identity.

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