The King of Comedy: 10 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn't Know

In the mid-1970s, Robert De Niro approached his friend and collaborator Martin Scorsese with a script about a fan obsessed with a talk show host. However, Martin declined. Years later, following the Oscar-winning success of Raging Bull, the legendary actor-director team of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese collaborated for the fifth time on 1982's The King of Comedy.
The King of Comedy is Scorsese and De Niro's meditation on the often hostile lines that separate private and public life, and it remains one of the 1980s' most foreboding films. It was the first time the iconic duo had turned their attention to something funny - but, being De Niro and Scorsese, the film in question is significantly darker and edgier than your typical slice of light entertainment, as it focuses on a profoundly disturbed would-be comedian who kidnaps a renowned talk show host in the hopes of becoming famous.
In this post, we would like to disclose a few facts you might not know about The King of Comedy. Scroll down to check them out.

#1 De Niro convinced Scorsese to make it instead of The Last Temptation of Christ


Martin Scorsese had desired to produce a film based on the controversial novel The Last Temptation of Christ for many years. Initially, the director wanted this to be his next film after Raging Bull, and he tried to convince Robert De Niro to play Jesus Christ.
De Niro, on the other hand, suggested filming Paul D Zimmerman's original screenplay The King of Comedy. Scorsese would later come close to filming The Last Temptation of Christ with Aidan Quinn in 1984 before making it with Willem Dafoe in 1988.

#2 De Niro prepared for the role by talking to his own stalkers

Source: Cultura Colectiva

As a committed method actor, De Niro prepared for the role of deluded would-be comedian and obsessive stalker Rupert Pupkin with his usual thorough research and preparation. As part of this, the actor took the unusual step of approaching and speaking with his own stalkers. H In addition, he also studied stand-up comedians for comic timing.

#3 De Niro shocked Lewis by using anti-Semitic language

Source: Phoenix New Times

Jerry Lewis, a seasoned comedy actor, was cast alongside De Niro in the key role of talk show host Jerry Langford. Lewis had never worked with a method actor like De Niro before and was taken aback by his approach.
De Niro first refused invitations to dinner with Lewis to keep them separate; then, while filming a scene that required Lewis to become enraged, De Niro bombarded the Jewish actor with anti-Semitic slurs. Despite his shock, Lewis admitted that this had the desired effect.

#4 It bombed hard at the box office, but critics liked it

Source: Diahnne Abbott

When The King of Comedy was released in 1982, it did not go down well with audiences. It cost $19 million to make and only made $2.5 million at the box office, making it a colossal flop.
Even though the film received positive reviews, Scorsese has stated that De Niro's performance is his favorite from all of their collaborations.

#5 It was a major influence on 2019’s Joker

Source: Joker (2019)

The King of Comedy is not as well-known as other De Niro/Scorsese collaborations such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Cape Fear, but it had a huge impact on Todd Philips, the writer-director of Joker.
The King of Comedy, according to Philips, was a great influence on his acclaimed 2019 DC Comics film, in which De Niro plays a character similar to Jerry Lewis' in the 1982 film.

#6 Johnny Carson and Frank Sinatra were considered for Jerry Lewis’ role

Source: Eighties Kids

Johnny Carson, America's most popular talk show host at the time, was Scorsese's first choice for the role of Jerry Langford. Carson, on the other hand, had never acted before and turned down the part.
Following this, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack cohorts Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr were considered before Jerry Lewis was cast.

#7 Michael Cimino or Bob Fosse could have directed

Source: Shortlist

The King of Comedy was originally set to be directed by Michael Cimino of The Deer Hunter. This deal fell apart when Cimino's notoriously troubled film Heaven's Gate fell significantly behind schedule and over budget.
Following Cimino, Bob Fosse (Cabaret) considered directing The King of Comedy, starring comedian Andy Kaufman as Rupert Pupkin, but ultimately decided against it.

#8 Rita actress Diahnne Abbott was De Niro’s real-life wife at the time

Source: Twitter

Rupert, played by De Niro, dates Rita, a bartender, in The King of Comedy. Abbott and De Niro had already been married for several years when they first met while Abbott appeared in Taxi Driver in a supporting role.
A few of Abbott's other film credits include Before Night Falls, Your Life is Calling, and Richard Pryor's Jo Jo Dancer. In 1988, she and De Niro got divorced.

#9 Sandra Bernhard was cast as Masha after Meryl Streep turned the part down

Source: The King of Comedy (1982)

Meryl Streep was considered for the role of Masha, another deranged fan of Jerry Langford's, but declined. Sandra Bernhard, a comedian, was cast in the role, and it was her first major acting role.
Bernhard would later be best known for her recurring role as Nancy on the hit sitcom Roseanne.

#10 Scorsese was very unwell throughout the shoot

Source: IMDB

The King of Comedy proved to be a difficult shoot for many reasons. Because a Writers Guild strike was on the horizon, production was pushed ahead of schedule to avoid clashing with it - although Scorsese was ill at the time.
Scorsese kept it going despite his illnesses. After the King of Comedy shoot, he was hospitalized with exhaustion and pneumonia, and the director took an extended break before making his next film (1985's After Hours).
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