The King of Comedy

The King of Comedy

Martin Scorsese (1983)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Though a box-office failure, this black comedy is now considered by many to be Martin Scorsese's unsung masterpiece. Of all the director's outings with sparring partner Robert De Niro, it's the strangest. De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring stand-up comedian and stalker-in-waiting who dreams of fronting his own TV show, rehearses for this moment of glory in his mother's basement and spends half his life waiting, symbolically, in reception. It's a powerful, complex performance, one that carries the story from farce into tragedy with ease, and keeps us on his side. Jerry Lewis is magnificent as the chilly old pro and chat-show king Jerry Langford, and Scorsese gives us another New York, the cruel but bewitching network TV capital of America. Pupkin's catchphrase remains immortal: "Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime."


A lonely would-be stand-up comic is desperate to become a celebrity, an ambition that has left him with a tenuous grip on reality. After a fleeting encounter with his chat-show host hero, he imagines they have become friends. However, when the presenter refuses to endorse his career, the comic resorts to kidnapping him and hijacking the show. Martin Scorsese's black comedy, starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis.

Cast & Crew

Rupert Pupkin Robert De Niro
Jerry Langford Jerry Lewis
Rita Diahnne Abbott
Masha Sandra Bernhard
Dolores Cathy Scorsese
Mrs Pupkin Catherine Scorsese
Roberta Posner Leslie Levinson
TV director Martin Scorsese
Ed Herlihy Ed Herlihy
Liza Minnelli Liza Minnelli
Victor Borge Victor Borge
Tony Randall Tony Randall
Director Martin Scorsese
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century Fox Film Co. LtdGuidance: Some swearing. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray
Drama Comedy