Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Black Comedy
It’s 1983 and we are joined with one of the best living actors, Robert De Niro, and one of the best living directors, Martin Scorsese, in one of his best films. Ladies and gentlemen, The King of Comedy.
De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, an obsessive comedian wannabe, who kidnaps his idol comedian, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), in an attempt to get a spot on Langford’s variety/talk show doing standup. I consider The King of Comedy the sister film to Taxi Driver. Both films chronicle the efforts of a disturbed individual, played by De Niro, to get shit done in his own way, and whilst we can see both characters choosing the wrong path, we still root for them all the way. It is also part of what I like to call the “Media Thriller Trilogy”, which consists of Targets (1968), Network (1976) and of course The King of Comedy. These films have nothing to do with each other except that they are all thrillers concerned with the media, whether it be film or TV, they each come from different and consecutive decades, and they’re all bloody brilliant!
The King of Comedy is a particularly unique experience in that it is a colourful, old-fashioned ransom tale with no sex, violence or coarse language, much like a prime time TV show! Yet the dark humour and the disturbing nature of the protagonist do not make for a very family friendly experience, which may be why the film is so underrated and little talked about. For those of you who aren’t kids anymore, you’ve probably seen Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) and Cape Fear (1991), and you’re dying to get another helping of Scorsese/De Niro action. Well, The King of Comedy sees the duo at the top of their game, so tune in!