Tuesday 12 March 2013

The King of Comedy [1983]

Scorsese wanted to follow Raging Bull up with The Last Temptation of Christ. But, since De Niro was interested in a comedy, he made The King of Comedy instead – a pungent satire on vapid celebrity culture, blind consumerism, and the extents to which a starry-eyed nobody would go to earn his 10 seconds of fame. Rupert Pupkin (in one of De Niro’s most underrated performances) is a wannabe stand-up comedian who aspires to emulate his idol Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), the immensely popular talk show host famous for his witty quips and rejoinders. He spends hours in his fantasy world where he is as famous as his idol, but in the real world he is anything but. Upon a serendipitous encounter with the patronizing Jerry he becomes so convinced of his comic genius and so completely enmeshed in his outlandish fantasies that he ends up hatching a crazy plan, with the help of another near-lunatic fan (Sandra Bernherd), to achieve his pipe-dream. Though nowhere near Marty’s best works, it still managed to be enjoyable, even if it was more goofy than darkly funny, and seemed tad overlong and overdone. The kidnap sequence, in fact, seemed too over-the-top vis-à-vis the quiet humanism of what had transpired till then. The finale, thankfully, was quite satisfactory – the final sequence, in fact, is still a matter of debates as to whether or not it was a figment of Rupert’s imagination. The film was reminiscent of two other films made on similar subjects, viz. Network and Quiz Show. It also managed to be the perfect springboard for another pitch black comedy that he followed it up with, viz. the brilliant After Hours.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Showbiz Comedy
Language: English
Country: US

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