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Punchline (1988)

 -  Comedy | Drama | Romance  -  7 October 1988 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 5,926 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 15 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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Title: Punchline (1988)

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

It only hurts when you LAUGH! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Punch Line  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$21,032,267 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Tom Hanks and Sally Field did stand-up routines in comedy clubs to prepare for this film. Stand-up comedian Susie Essman and comedy writer Dottie Archibald coached Field for her role. Archibald also served as consultant for the film, recruiting real stand-up comedians to appear in the film. Hanks enlisted stand-up comedian Barry Sobel and comedy writer Randy Fechter to help write his routine. One night, a young, up-and-coming Chris Rock shared a set with Hanks, and has stated since that Hanks was the funniest stand-up he had ever seen. During one of her routines, Sally Field shared a set with a then up-and-coming Adam Sandler, Sandler stated that Field's routine was the funniest that he's ever seen giving him a boost in his young career. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Madeline Urie: Is - is this a joke?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: Awards Special 2013 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Alternate title: "I Don't Get It"
24 June 2003 | by (Bristol, CT) – See all my reviews

Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant as a former medical student who rebels and becomes a stand-up comedian. Hanks grants this movie with a heart and soul. His stage delivery is good but unfortunately hampered by really weak, unfunny material. In his acting, the sincerity, drive and passion for the job are strongly conveyed, as well as a fairly believable nature to his eventual love for Field's character. This performance, in my opinion, outshines much of his later work, including all of his Academy Award-labeled stuff.

Sally Field is miscast as a housewife who coincidentally decides to do stand-up. She is the weakest character of which I do not care about, nor will I ever care about. Her plight is totally meaningless compared to Hanks'. Her stand-up delivery is forced, and seemed too much like *acting*. Yet she got slightly stronger material, and it confuses me so.

The pro comedians in this film are blindsided by crappy material. A few use their own stuff, but are still hurt by poor camera-work and bad editing. All of the acts should have been shot like a Richard Pryor concert movie. Incidentally, when not performing, all of the comedians are terrific actors. John Goodman is also superb as the supportive husband to Field. He brings a heart, charm and sensitivity to a thankless role, and makes it easier to view the moments when she's on screen.

Pre-dating Seinfeld's "Comedian", "Punchline" is actually a good look at the lives of a stand-up. However, when it should have been the funniest ever, in well-known fact, it is not. Everyone in the audiences was laughing far too much and way too loud. They may has well have been at the Apollo. It could have been comedy gold, but instead we got silt.


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