Martin Scorsese’s, The King of Comedy (1982), is one of his lesser-known works despite the popular collaboration between Scorsese and Robert De Niro. The film tells the story of struggling comedian, Rupert Pupkin (De Niro), and his descent into severe obsession with his idol, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Langford is a famous comedian and talk show host whom Pupkin aspires to be like. However, when faced with rejection, Pupkin’s fixation drives him to kidnap Langford in a bid to appear on his show.
I enjoyed the film, especially how the theme of celebrity obsession is portrayed with touches of humour. I am still questioning what genre the film is. In my opinion, this subject matter of obsession is relevant to today’s society with the rise of social media and more accessible stars. I feel that there are also similarities with real-life cases, such as that of Mark Chapman and John Hinckley, Jr. I think the film has an interesting storyline which may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
De Niro’s performance maintains an innocence and his character appears not to realise his fixation. At points in the film, I felt for Pupkin as he appears to truly believe that he has a chance to become friends with Langford. De Niro is fascinating to watch as his character faces obvious rejection but remains oblivious. Pupkin’s mental state is questionable, especially in scenes where he imagines encounters with Langford, but it is difficult to understand him as he seems to be so sure of himself and his career. In my opinion, Martin Scorsese’s, The King of Comedy is an underrated film that contains strong performances from both obert De Niro and Jerry Lewis but also cleverly demonstrates a serious theme and important message that is relevant to today’s society.