“Tomorrow you’ll know I wasn’t kidding and you’ll all think I’m crazy. But I figure it this way: better to be king for a night, than schmuck for a lifetime.”
So the first film I decided to watch, by no real reason at all, was “The King of Comedy”. It has just always been one of those films that I’ve wanted to see (I LOVE Robert DeNiro and “Marty” Scorcese) and it happened to be on my DVR the night I decided what I wanted to blog about. This film was made in 1982 and was directed by Martin Scorcese and starred Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lewis. DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin, an obsessed fan and wannabe comedian who spends most of his time fantasizing of a life similar to the one Lewis’ character, Jerry Langford, lives. Langford has a “Johnny Carson” type variety show and is stalked by cult like fans, one of them being Masha played by Sandra Bernhard. In the opening scene, Pupkin jumps into Langfords limo after one of his shows and pitches his comedy sketch to him. Langford finally agrees to let Pupkin come to his office but only in pursuit to get him out of his car. Pupkin takes his offer and comes to the NBC-like office of Langford’s show. With a number of no-shows by Langford, a rejection from the shows producer, and finally being kicked out of the office, Pupkin decides to take drastic measures. He kidnaps Langford with Masha before one of Langford’s shows and demands that he is put on the show in order to show his sketch. While Pupkin performs a fairly successful show, crazy Masha is busy seducing her long-term one sided love Langford. The show is complete and Langford finally escapes Masha’s apartment where he had been held captive. Pupkin is finally arrested and serves only two years of his sentence. He writes a book while in jail, titled King for the Night, which becomes a best-selling hit. In the closing scene of the film, Pupkin is standing on the stage of his own variety show, making him in conclusion, “The King of Comedy”.
My Personal Perspective
The first thing that came to mind after concluding this film was how I’d never seen Robert DeNiro play a role like that. He has always been one of my favorite actors, however this brought on a whole new perspective on just how incredibly talented he is. Acting has always been one of those crafts that I look at as both a cop out and an impossible gift. Today it is easy to say how many talentless people there are out there due to reality television and bullshit entertainment, however when it comes down to the raw gift of acting, I find it impossible to master. Being that I never like being the center of attention- I hated every second of my Bat Mitzvah because there were 200 pairs of eyes staring at my every move, not to mention some cheesy photographer snapping his flash in my face every two seconds. This is why I decided I wanted to spend my life behind a camera, researching and examining others lives- because nothing is more interesting to me than the raw interactions of human behavior. The way people move, their facial expressions, the idea that every single person on this planet is uniquely different. And THAT is why I find acting so admirable- the idea that someone could fully engulf themselves into the form of another’s life and believe they are another person. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the actor will NEVER fully be that role and therefore their own personal style will evolve into something magical. SO back to Robert DeNiro in this particular film, I felt like I was watching THE Rupert Pupkin although I never officially met this character. There was something so “80’s” about this particular film. The lighting, filters, clothes, even the sound felt like I was watching from a Magnovox tube set. What really stood out was how different the city of New York looked. Times Square was quiet, hardly any advertising. This was so unique to the consumer driven media crazy world we live in today. Rupert Pupkin stood by a pay phone to wait for a call from his idle Jerry Langford.
My New York Life and The King of Comedy
What really struck me about this film, was how much I could strangely relate it to my own life. Not being a stalker by any means but being someone who knows exactly what I want to do and how good I feel doing it, can make a person do crazy things. Looking for work in this market has not been easy and there have been opportunities I’ve felt were so perfect for me that I could atually sit and envision how wonderful it would feel to wake up in the morning everyday to go to a job where I feel like I am making a difference in my life and in the company I work for. I am not the type to sit idly by and wait for life to happen, so in a way I guess yeah, I am a little like Rupert Pupkin. Although I would never kidnap and hold someone for ransom in order to accomplish my dream, I feel like there are times that I wish I could make my dreams not so out of my reach. In a way, I find what he did to be admirable. He knew exactly what he wanted and wouldn’t settle for anything less. Yes, he was slightly insane and probably suffered from a personality disorder, but he never let anyone tell him he couldn’t do exactly what he wanted to do. AND through all of it, he ended up on top. It is actually a beautiful message to tell the whole world to reach for the stars. Even from the first scene when he jumped in the car with Jerry Langford, he knew it was his only shot and he had to do something crazy in order to get it.