Clocking 40 years this month, The King of Comedy is fondly slotted as one of the most unsettling movies about the world of showbiz. The exhausting journey of trying to nab that one big break has been detailed to some degree in many films and shows. But the extreme lengths that one can go to in an attempt to achieve one’s showbiz dreams, has been most accurately portrayed in this Martin Scorcese’s 1982 film.
Lost and Found
Last Updated: 12.31 PM, Feb 21, 2023
Clocking 40 years this month, The King of Comedy is fondly slotted as one of the most unsettling movies about the world of showbiz. After all, there are only a smattering of films that have managed to effectively capture the desperation and dread that some folks in the world of entertainment endure in their quest for ultimate glory. The exhausting journey of trying to nab that one big break has been detailed to some degree in many films and shows. But the extreme lengths that one can go to in an attempt to achieve one’s showbiz dreams, has been most accurately portrayed in Martin Scorcese’s 1982 film, The King of Comedy. And it’s our Lost and Found for today.
The film follows Rupert Pupkin, a struggling standup comedian played by Robert Deniro who hopes to get a spot in the Tonight’s Show. When a chance encounter with the show’s aging legendary host Jerry Langford (played by the inimitable Jerry Lewis and modeled on Johnny Carson) offers a glimmer of hope, Pupkin dives right in. But as it turns out, what seemed like an accidental big break was just a ruse to politely turn the struggling comedian away. But Pupkin is determined, desperate and willing to resort to extreme measures such as kidnapping the show’s host to get his big break. How this one folds up is anyone’s guess but the asphyxiating feeling of sitting through the turbulent events that follow actually makes it a taut thriller worth watching.
The King of Comedy is a study on the curse of being a celebrity. Contributing to their elevation to becoming a household name can delude audiences into believing that they’ve come to know and accept a TV presenter. Worryingly though, they also assume that this must translate into access to a celebrity’s time and life, merely as a kickback for their devoted viewership. And this sets the premise for this mind-blowing thriller that’s laced with dark humour.
Deniro is in prime form here and had just won the Best Actor Oscar for Raging Bull prior to this film. He completely immerses himself into the unassuming and relentless sociopath who struggles to accept his mediocrity. In more ways than one, Pupkin resembles Deniro’s iconic Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver but is surely less belligerent, even if the character may be equally off-kilter and damaged. The King of Comedy wasn’t a box office-scorer and was one of Scorcese’s cinematic experiments that didn’t pay off. Nevertheless, it sets the pretty high bar for depicting a man who resorts to extremes when pushed to his last tether. So if you’re in the mood for an unsettling watch that could leave you singularly disturbed, add The King of Comedy to your watchlist now.
Well that's the OTTplay Lost and Found for today, until the next time it's your host Nikhil signing out.
Aaj kya dekhoge OTTplay se poocho
Written by Kunal Guha