The Radio Times logo

The King of Comedy

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • 1982
  • Martin Scorsese
  • 104 mins
  • PG

Summary

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.

Advertisement
Recommended

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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."

How to watch

Loading

Streaming

Credits

Cast

rolename
Rupert PupkinRobert De Niro
Jerry LangfordJerry Lewis
RitaDiahnne Abbott
MashaSandra Bernhard
DoloresCathy Scorsese
Mrs PupkinCatherine Scorsese
Roberta PosnerLeslie Levinson
TV directorMartin Scorsese
Ed HerlihyEd Herlihy
Liza MinnelliLiza Minnelli
Victor BorgeVictor Borge
Tony RandallTony Randall

Crew

rolename
DirectorMartin Scorsese

Details

Theatrical distributor
20th Century Fox Film Co. Ltd
Language
English
Guidance
Some swearing.
Available on
video, DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
Advertisement

RadioTimes.com is getting better. Fresh new look, redesigned programme hub, richer content…

FIND OUT MORE
Advertisement

Sponsored content