Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy: Elements Creating the Central Theme

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Sick on my duck

Critical Analysis of Scorsese's "The King of Comedy"

To be king for a day is the central theme in "The King of Comedy" by Martin Scorsese, a black comedy that features Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin, an eccentric wannabe stand-up comic hell bent on achieving stardom. Pupkin idolizes talk show host Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis) the proclaimed "King of Late Night." Pupkin's goal in life is to replace Langford becoming "The King of Comedy" hence the title. He believes himself to be a great comedian telling Langford (Lewis) in an early scene "I wouldn't take up even one minute of your time if I wasn't absolutely convinced of my talent. I'm really good, Jerry, believe me, I'm dynamite." However, this is a fallacy; Pupkin is actually a 31 year old natural-born loser and a hack, who resides in his mother's basement, where he hosts talk shows with cardboard cutouts of Liza Minelli and Jerry Langford and has absolutely no experience as a comedian outside of it. Combining elements such as characterization, mise-en-scene and finally dialogue, Scorsese creates his theme perfectly.

The overwhelming theme in "The King of Comedy" is directly stated by Rupert Pupkin in the dialogue, he says "Better to be king for a night than Schmuck for a lifetime." That theme is the driving force behind this film; mainly elements such as characterization and style and dialogue are driven to make this theme apparent. To begin to explain the theme first you must look at the characterization in the film. Single handedly it's the driving force behind presenting Pupkin's character. Characterization paves the way for other elements such as mise-en-scene in presenting the theme. Physically speaking, Pupkin has a slimy look about himself. His hair is reminiscent of the "dippity do'ed" pompadours of the 1950's. Pupkin also sports a "use car salesman" style mustache, which only adds to his sleazy look. These elements create Pupkin and set him apart from...
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