The King Of Comedy Cover My God! Isn't comedy a difficult profession to break into? Not only do you need the talent, the look, and a heavy dose of screen-charisma. But on top of that, you've got to make sure you've a gun and a couple of gags handy, just in case you hit the big time. Well, that's what I understood when I watched this 105 minute movie made in 1982. It was Directed by: Martin Scorsese; and Starred: Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, with Sandra Bernhard.

The King of Comedy

So there I was, patiently waiting outside Jerry Langford's (Jerry Lewis) recording studio, hoping that he'd sign an autograph for me as soon as he's finished hosting his amazing show. When suddenly, though and behold, Jerry quickly emerges into the baying crowd. Desperately trying to scramble his way towards his alighting chauffeur driven limousine, with the intent of returning home as soon as possible.

But don't you worry your pretty little heads off, folks. Jerry doesn't come to any harm. Cause as luck would have it, I was at hand to help him out. Me. Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro). That funny looking chap who slide's his way into Jerry's mode of transportation with him, and in the process, has the opportunity to tell him about my life as a stand-up comic, as he might one day allow me to perform on his prime-time TV program.

And does he? Does Jerry actually allow me to do such a thing? Well, I think he does. As that's what I tell my two lady friends. Masha (Sandra Bernhard): That crazy broad who's in love with Jerry too. Plus Rita (Diahnne Abbott): My long lost childhood sweetheart. 

Having said that, though, why doesn't no one at Jerry's department believe this, when I turn up at his offices the very next day? You know. Like that Cathy Long (Shelley Hack) lady for instance. All she does is fob me off with one excuse after another. Telling me to hit the 'club circuit' and improve my act, or else she'd have the security guards kick me out onto the streets. Furthermore, when me and Rita visit Jerry at his country estate a day or so later, Jerry has the damn cheek to tell me to get lost as well!

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all fumbles into play, when Marsha and I decide to kidnap Jerry, and hold him to ransom. As plans go off without a hitch - Federal Agents can't help but bitch - a crazy lady serves herself up as an d'oeuvre - and two year later, I finally get what I think I deserve.

When 'The King of Comedy' was first released in the early eighties, I suspect it must have rubbed people up the wrong way because of the topic it was trying to convey. Well, just take a look at the amount of reality shows you see on television nowadays, and you can clearly engage with this movies underlining message, about people craving for fame for the sake of fame.

The King of Comedy Starring Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard
"You're gonna love me come rain or come shine" -- that's what Ray Charles sung in this film -- and with this statement, comes a dawning of this new media-manic-age.

Now please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against this project or these so-called breed of wannabe's. If being thrust into the spotlight is something they need to keep themselves satisfied, fair enough, go for it. Just as long as they aren't hurting anyone else, they can fill their own boots for all I care.

Yet having said that, these people have to also realize why they want to be famous in the first place. Is it for the cash? Is it for the notoriety? Or is it because they're sad and lonely individuals, as this movie ultimately implies. 

You see,  from my point of view I'd say this flick was way ahead of it's time. As it touches upon a similar subject seen in the Clint Eastwood thriller, 'Play Misty For Me', about a desperate human being latching onto a more notable figure head, hoping they can satisfy what ails them deep inside.  

The King Of Comedy Australian Film PosterHonestly. You can tell by watching Robert De Niro's great portrayal of Rupert Pupkin what this adventure is all about from the get go. He comes across needy, standoffish, plus on occasion he can be cosmetically obtuse too. And for that alone I see Robert's performance as a highlight in his rather lofty career.

Moreover, his two co-stars on this crime-caper, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard, both seemingly play aspects of themselves, acting yet not really acting at the very same time. Jerry's portrait of 'Jerry' appears atypical of the type of man he's meant to be highlighting. A successful lonely man who is plagued by his own triumphs. Whilst Sandra's portrait of 'Masha' is very electrifying and dynamic to behold. Appearing at times almost too mannered for reality.

Also, I best not forget to mention how Martin Scorsese directed this movie like a man possessed. Figuratively and alliteratively taking this tale by it's proverbial horns, and riding it down 'brain drain avenue' with the rest of those artistic visionaries.

The King of Comedy Starring Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard

The King of Comedy Starring Jerry Lewis
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment, folks. Cause I think it's about time for the following filmic facts. (1) '20th Century Fox' first released this nineteen million dollar production in Iceland on the 18th of December, 1982, and eventually clawed back two and a half million dollars at the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Laughing King' in Turkey; 'You And A Media' in Hebrew; and 'King For A Night' in Greece. (3) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of New York. Most notably, Jerry Langford's offices are situated within the Paramount Building, 1633 Broadway. (4) One of the tag-lines used to promote this picture, was, 'Nobody knows Rupert Pupkin, but after 11:30 tonight no one will ever forget him'. (5) The casting for this film was a pretty long-winded experience for all involved. Initially Meryl Streep turned down the role Sandra Bernhard ended up playing. And before Jerry was cast as Jerry, they were turned down by Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, and Joey Bishop. (6) Robert De Niro studied the numerous stand-up comedy acts performed by Richard Belzerm in preparation to star in this flick. (7) When Paul Zimmerman originally wrote the screenplay for this movie in the late sixties, he envisioned Dick Cavett to play the part of the talk-show host. (8) Even though Martin Scorsese once said Robert De Niro gave one of his best ever performances in this picture, he suspected that one of the main reasons they never worked together very much afterwards, was largely due to the grueling and bitter material associated with it. (9) Not only does Martin Scorsese have a small cameo in this film, playing Jerry's somewhat reassuring television director, but in addition to this, he got some of his family members involved as well. His Mother Catherine play Rupert's mother. His daughter Cathy plays Dolores. And his father Charles plays the man who watches Rupert's performance on the TV at the end of the film.

The King of Comedy Starring Robert De Niro and Shelley Hack

Now in closing, I'd just like to bless Martin Scorsese for making 'The King Of Comedy' possible. Even though it wasn't highly praised when it was first released, I still think he made one of the most relevant and thought provoking films that current society should have another look at, come rain or come shine...

An underrated classic.


THE KING OF COMEDY THE KING OF COMEDY Reviewed by David Andrews on April 23, 2014 Rating: 5
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