Punchline (1988)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  7 October 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 6,317 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


It only hurts when you LAUGH! 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?


Producer Daniel Melnick once said of this film: "The major objection to 'Punchline' was that it wasn't conventional material. It was either a comedy with a seriously dramatic story or a drama with an outrageously funny background. And Steven Gold, who is played by Mr. Hanks [Tom Hanks], is obsessive, certainly self-destructive and could be considered mean-spirited". 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 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) See more »


Saber Dance
(from ballet "Gayaneh")
Music by Aram Khachaturyan
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Making People Laugh Will Cost You Dearly!!!!
21 September 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

So much for my family, my kids, my sanity, and my discretionary money, what little of it I have...I want to tell jokes!!!...This bittersweet relationship between Tom Hanks and Sally Field has husband, John Goodman, totally perplexed...The nightclubs, the fast food, the partial housewife thing, the spending money on jokes..None of this makes any sense for a struggling married couple..Yet somehow, Sally Field must find herself..."Be supportive of my quirkiness!!"This was a precarious instinct that Sally Field felt compelled to necessitate!! The film "Punchline" spends most of the time making personality confusion the culprit to domestic shaky grounds, but in the end, it shows how Sally Field can be a good wife, a good mother and yet express a part of herself for herself by being a stand-up comic...The challenge stand-up comedy represents by being as painful as Russian roulette with five bullets, plays itself out as a frustrating dilemma that confuses both Tom Hanks and Sally Field!!!!...What was finally attainable in both their lives was recognition at a humanistic level...What is seemingly unacceptable to the run of the mill rational person, as opposed to a stand-up comic, is that there is no comprehension of the fact that a stand-up comic views the ability to make people laugh as one of the most coveted qualities in the world!! To be funny is more rewarding than wealth, power, and/or a wonderful physical appearance!!! Stand-Up Comedy is not necessarily a lucrative talent, and you do not have to constantly make people laugh, but when Sally Field won the contest that night, it meant she had the ability to be a stand-up comic,,this was important to her!!!! The desire Sally Field had to tell jokes at various New York nightclubs, transcended selfishness, and merely pointed out that having a family and a husband does not mean your life stops totally!!..Bottom line, if Sally Field were on trial for negligence and self centered preoccupation, she would have been acquitted!! Ultimately what gave her stand-up comic hobby a sense of gratification was the emerging approval and encouragement of her family!! The "Singin in the Rain" scene that Tom Hanks performed was FABULOUS!!! as this film just oozes with talent...This movie is identical to the plot of this movie...BEING DIFFERENT IS BETTER...JUST ASK SOMEONE WHO OWNS A ROLLS ROYCE!!!!

24 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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