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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Paper, Scissors, Rock

The King of Comedy (1982) on IMDb

Plot Overview

After a glittering introduction to “The Jerry Langford Show”, star host/comedian Jerry Lang­ford (Jerry Lewis) beats a hasty retreat to the street to be mobbed by awaiting auto­graph seekers. His limousine refuge is a trap inhabited by persistent fan Masha (Sandra Bernhard) for whom the opening song, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, is a wee bit of an under­statement the way she's “gonna love you like nobody loves you.” After a bit of a tussle Jerry is saved by aspiring comedian Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) who joins him in the limo to request an invite to perform on his show. It's out of the frying pan, into the fire, as Jerry tries unsuccessfully to get rid of this guy.

The mad plot that follows can be likened to a children's game of Paper, Scissors, Rock. Jerry is the rock the way he steels him­self against the humanity that presses in on him. Masha is scissors the way she tries to cut in on the action. The rock will crush the scissors as we see her hands splayed on the closing limo window in a freeze-frame at the start. Rupert is the lowly paper (“You got to start at the bottom”) who some­how manages to wrap up Jerry's office staff trying to evict him. Only when he tries to deliver Masha's message does he firmly get the bum's rush.

In the fast action of Paper, Scissors, Rock, Jerry will get wrapped up in Rupert's paper from head to toe, only to have it cut off by Masha's scissors. And in show business any publicity is good publicity.


The assault on Jerry's outer office defenses by the self-styled “King of Comedy” is reminiscent of Queen Esther who also had a barrier to over­come in order to obtain an audience with her king in, (Esther 4:11) “that whoso­ever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live.” She decided to risk all for the cause to talk to the guy rather than be a schmuck, (Esther 4:16) “and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” Like­wise Rupert risks sure legal repercussions, figuring it's, “Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.”

The end result of Esther's boldness is the Feast of Purim that's celebrated by observant Jews to this day.

Production Values

The King of Comedy” (1982) was directed by Martin Scorcese. Its screen­play was written by Paul D. Zimmerman. It stars Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bern­hard and Diahnne Abbott. De Niro puts in a brilliant if atypical performance as Rupert, an undaunted loser who still lives with his mother while nursing fantasies of grandeur. Most of the acting is quite good.

This black comedy is rated PG. The film is very inventive and made a good impression on the critics though it flopped at the box office. There is no punch line to the buildups, so the audience is left tense with no outlet. I just took it in stride, but not every­one will know how to handle this type of picture. Fantasy sequences are inter­woven with the reality making it hard to distinguish between them.

Rupert's stand-up routine included material about growing up in the exclusive town of Clifton, NJ, where his favorite bar­maid Rita (Diahnne Abbott) hails from, having been a high school beauty queen there. She's played by an African-American woman, and I'm told by some­one from there that until 1965 there was only one Negro in all of Clifton. She was used in the part because at the time she was Mrs De Niro.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I enjoyed this picture, but I am very easy to please. How much you will like it probably depends on how much you like black comedy that's well done. It moves right along and is only 109 minutes long, so that's all you have to endure if you find your­self not liking it, Don't wait for it to improve, it keeps a steady keel all the way through.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children w/guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.