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The King of Comedy

The King of Comedy (1983)

February. 18,1983
| Drama Comedy

Aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin attempts to achieve success in show business by stalking his idol, a late night talk-show host who craves his own privacy.


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After Robert DeNiro had teamed up with Martin Scorsese on films like 'Mean Streets' and 'Taxi Driver' it was hard to see anything the pair of them worked on failing. Then came 'King of Comedy.' I think that it's unfair to call it a 'fail,' but it certainly didn't set the Box Office alight in the same way their previous collaborations did. At least it has slowly picked up more of a cult audience over the years, but, perhaps most pertinently, it seems more 'of its time' today than in the early eighties when it was actually released. This time round DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin - the deliberately oddly-named man who lives (basically) in his mother's basement, where he rehearses for the day he becomes a rich and famous stand-up comedian. So sure that he'll make it big time that he constantly stalks a genuine celebrity, Jerry Langford (played effortlessly by Jerry Lewis who basically plays himself throughout), acting like the two of them are old friends. Along the way Pupkin is 'aided' by another of Jerry's stalkers, this time a woman (played by Sandra Bernhard). The two of them, despite not getting on as they're both competing for a place in Jerry's life, team up in order to both get what they want out of their 'friend/lover.'Perhaps one reason it didn't resonate with audiences at the time was that, for a film with the word 'comedy' in the title, it's not - technically - that funny. It's not supposed to be a laugh-a-minute chuckle-fest. If it is any sort of comedy then it's definitely 'black comedy.' You'll feel a sense of sadness for our 'hero' as he's more pathetic than heroic. He can't see what we - the audience - can. Today we live in a world where you can become 'famous' from the comforts of your own home (or mother's basement in Pupkin's case) simply by becoming a 'Youtube star.' Back in the early eighties I'm guessing that not everyone wanted to be famous. Okay, so most people have the odd daydream about being a film star/rock star/astronaut/whatever, but it didn't seem to be until the millennium (perhaps when reality TV took off in a big way?) when everyone decided that fame was within their grasp (and without much talent or effort needed to achieve it!).'King of Comedy' shows how just because you WANT to become famous and think that it's your 'right' because of your 'talent,' you actually need a little more than sheet desire and self-belief. Yes, luck will always play a part in anyone's rise to the top, but what we have here is more of a sad tale of a man who's dream outweighs his talent. If you know what you're getting then you'll definitely find an excellent little piece that is more relevant today than it ever was. Robert DeNiro is still regarded as one of the greatest actors of our generation and it's films like this that will always play a big part in his rich history - even if they weren't quite appreciated at the time.


Scorsese took some risks to turn a familiar concept that is actually impossible to work on screen, or at least that what I thought. A lot of familiarity has been revealed at the first half of the third act of the movie along with some clichéd dialogue. Also, the pacing slowed down a bit at the very beginning of the third act. That being said, these flaws didn't bother me so much as the rest of the third act was brilliant!That's by no means what I expected. I thought it's kinda light comedy, but it turned out to be a very subtle dark comedy. Still consider it a more light-hearted version of Taxi Driver! Very under-appreciated, though.(8/10)


We have a movie that is very relaxed, is very light despite being opposed with an appealingly heavy idea, it has a very good script and great rhythm besides dialogues and scenes that remember the Scorsese style well, although it is a whole construction of A comedy movie, in moments he looks like a mafia movie. We have a script that tells the story of Rupert Pumpkin, a man who dreams of being a comedy idol, he kidnaps one of today's greatest comedians, and forces him to take part in his show. It is a constructive script, has an excellent character construction, is a growing and extremely linear script, although it splits into scenes of Rupert's imagination with reality, this may confuse a bit because Scorsese does not change the picture or any aspect that shows Being an imagination, this is good because it privileges the viewer who is more inside the film. The moral of the film is to talk a bit more about the obsession of fame, we run the risk of arrest for a successful night, it also criticizes people who idolize artists by putting them on pedestals common people. We have a dark photograph, with that gray film, it even recalls a mafia movie - not Scorsese's - but we have a touch of humor and irony, we do not have that typical Scorsese rhythm, on the contrary, a good edition, but nothing surprising . Robert De Niro does a very cool acting, he is very fluent, and he does a very good acting but very funny, he is the only one, because the secondary characters are weak. Finally, we have a good comedy movie, with jokes that do not work nowadays, but it's a very clever comedy, and it just proves that Scorsese has a gigantic scope, ranging from comedy to horror.

Gustavo Schroeder A

The King of Comedy is a film that you don't hear much about. It's a Martin Scorsese film that I think is often forgotten and I actually had no idea it existed until about a year ago and I thought it was good. It has very good performances by Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, and I thought the characters were very interesting, especially Rupert Pupkin (De Niro).Pupkin is a psychopath who is obsessed with being on Jerry Lewis' show so he can become famous as a stand up comedian. De Niro's performance is pretty compelling and I thought there were many similarities to Taxi Driver, as far as the character goes. Pupkin is a very interesting character to watch and it's just entertaining to see how he reacts to the world around him and he's a strangely sympathetic character as well. Jerry Lewis' character is also great. I loved how he's presented as a very famous person who seems like a nice person but is just tired of the public eye and I think Scorsese and Lewis did a great job in portraying these emotions. These are the things I liked the most about King of Comedy, I think it's a movie completely driven by the performances and the compelling characters.Unlike Taxi Driver however, King of Comedy is a very straight forward film as far as directing and cinematography goes. The movie doesn't really have any moment that stands out and it just feels like the whole movie we are watching these characters interact with the environment but since the direction is pretty straightforward there's almost no artistic stamp on the movie, so it doesn't really feel like a Scorsese film.Because our main character is so stubborn and is completely set on accomplishing his goal, the movie does seem a little repetitive at times and the best word to describe it would be frustrating. Frustrating in the sense that the characters are frustrating and the way they end up interacting with each other is frustrating. They experience no arc. There is no catharsis so in the end as a viewer it feels unsatisfying.The King of Comedy is not a perfect film, but it's a movie that did something different and it features great performances and compelling characters, even if the story may be frustrating at times, I can't deny I was invested in Pupkin and his actions. 7.0/10