|Martin Scorsese Director||previously directed Raging Bull|
Robert De Niro plays a Rupert Pupkin a man who worships tv-talkshow host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Rupert is willing to do anything to get his standup act on Langfords show.
In the scene where Rupert goes to Jerry's house, Langford claims that De Niro used anti-Semitic language to provoke him and make him appear genuinely angry. It was particularly effective as Langford was unfamiliar with the idea of method acting.
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.
|Paul D. Zimmerman|
|Robert De Niro||Rupert Pupkin|
|Jerry Lewis||Jerry Langford|
|Diahnne Abbott||Rita Keane|
|Shelley Hack||Cathy Long|
|Ed Herlihy||Ed Herlihy|
|Lou Brown||Band leader|
|Loretta Tupper||Stage Door Fan|
|Peter Potulski||Stage Door Fan|
|Vinnie Gonzales||Stage Door Fan|
|See Full Credits|
The film opens with aspiring comedian Rupert Pupkin helping TV show host Jerry Langford into his car among a crowd of wild fans. Pupkin thinks his big break has finally come and tries to convince Langford to give him a slot on his show, while Langford merely sees another failed comic looking for a handout and tells him to give him a call to appease him.
Pupkin makes frequent calls and visits to Langford's office but is continually rebuffed by Langford's staff who refuse Pupkin access to the building. Rupert meanwhile is shown to be more than just a big fan through his fantasies that we are shown in which he has dinner with Langford or he is in his office. These fantasies all result in Langford giving Pupkin the opening slot on his show, sometimes calling him a genius while Pupkin modestly accepts and goes on his way. Pupkin is also shown to be friends, or least acquainted with a woman named Masha. She claims to be friends with Langford and follows him across town when he walks between buildings.
Pupkin grows tired of waiting and tells Rita Keane, a school friend of Rupert's, that Jerry has invited him to a party which she is invited to. When they arrive Rupert forces his way into the house thanks to a combination of Langfords absence and a fairly incompetent house keeper. Langford arrives home and is furious at Rupert for coming to his house. He finally comes clean, telling Rupert that he only told him to call him because he thought he would leave him alone.
Once he is back in the city Rupert decides that more drastic action is required to get onto Jerry's show and so he and Masha set about plotting to kidnap Jerry. They use a fake pistol to force Jerry to get into a car and the drive him to a house where they tape him to a chair. Rupert then calls Ed Herlihy, the producer of Langford's show and begins to bargain with them, promising that his act is clean and that Langford will be returned unharmed as long as Rupert gets the opening slot. The deal goes through and Pupkin sets off for the studio where his performance will be recorded and played later that night in return for Jerry Langford unharmed, meanwhile Masha is left to look after Langford.
After recording his performance Pupkin is taken in for questioning where he insists that he go to the pub that Rita works at to show her his performance. Masha who has been left alone with Jerry believes that they are going to make love, her delusion is her downfall however, when Jerry asks her to untie him she accepts, but as soon as he is free he points the gun at her and fires. It is a fake of course so only a blank is fired and as such he proceeds to punch Masha, knocking her to the floor, and runs away. As he is running through the streets he sees Pupkin's performance being broadcast. By this time Pupkin is in the pub showing Rita his act. It is here that the viewer finally gets to see Ruperts sketch. Rupert covers fairly common topics for a comedian, speaking of his childhood area in a bad light but only really for comic effect. He also speaks of his parents, speaking about his alcoholic father and his awful mother. This all seems fairly standard, until it becomes apparent that he is speaking very literally about his childhood, and about his abusive parents and being bullied at school. He also explicitly tells his audience that he has Jerry tied up, but they once again misinterpret what he says as jokes, when he is in fact telling the truth.
After his act finishes, Rupert happily accepts being taken into custody. A news report then plays, telling the viewer that Rupert spent two years prison, during which he wrote a best selling autobiography 'King for a Night' and that he and his agent are now considering many attractive offers. The film closes with an announcer speaking very highly of Rupert as an audience eagerly awaits his first TV special.