The King of Comedy script
Synopsis: The King of Comedy is a 1983 American satirical black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard. Written by Paul D. Zimmerman, the film focuses on themes including celebrity worship and American media culture. 20th Century Fox released the film on February 18, 1983, in the United States, though the film was released two months earlier in Iceland. The film began shooting in New York on June 1, 1981, to avoid clashing with a forthcoming writers' strike, and opened the Cannes Film Festival in 1983.

FADE IN:

1EXT:
MIDTOWN MANHATTAN STREETS - DAY

Behind the opening credits, we watch a montage of RUPERT

PUPKIN making his daily rounds as a messenger delivering

manila envelopes and packages to various New York offices,

always courteous and polite in his demeanor, PUPKIN is an

attractive-looking young man just past thirty and dressed

in a stylish blue suit, broad tie and wide-collared shirt.

His shoes are neatly polished, his hair carefully groomed.

As the montage continues, we see that he has finished his

deliveries and is walking rapidly towards his destination.

It turns out to be a television theater north of Times

Square whose marquee announces THE JERRY LANGFORD SHOW.

It is dusk and the show is about to break. There is a

very small crowd already positioned at the stage door --

a few young girls, a few curious passers-by who have

stopped to see who will emerge. Three professional

autograph hunters are clustered together:

MAE, a lady in her sixties, wears a red velvet dress, a

lace hat and much too much rouge.

SIDNEY is in his mid-twenties, tall, badly-complexioned,

slicked hair but otherwise neatly dressed. He carries

a brown lunch bag.

CELESTE is an enormously fat woman in her mid-thirties.

She wears a large cape to conceal her obesity.

A middle-aged MAN, dressed in a corduroy suit, emerges

from the backstage door which is guarded by a large,

white-haired POLICEMAN. The non-professionals in the

crowd just peer at the MAN but MAE immediately steps in

front of him with her autograph book raised.

MAE:

(to the MAN)

Are you somebody?

MAN:

No, honey, I'm just a working stiff.

The MAN keep walking and MAE returns to her cohorts

just as PUPKIN arrives.

MAE:

Hi, Rupert.

CELESTE:

(coolly)

Hello, Rupert.

SIDNEY:

Who did you get?

PUPKIN:

(distractedly)

Nobody.

PUPKIN carefully places himself near the door, a step or

two away from the other professionals.

MAE:

(to SIDNEY)

I got Mr. Raf Vallone outside 21.

CELESTE:

(to SIDNEY about PUPKIN)

He'd never tell you anyway, Sidney.

MAE:

Then I got him again at the

Pierre at four o'clock.

SIDNEY:

Be a dear, Mae. I don't happen

to have Mr. Vallone.

MAE:

You know what I want for him.

SIDNEY:

But I have only six Barbra's left.

You know how difficult she is to

work with.

MAE:

I don't have her even once.

CELESTE:

(to MAE)

Maybe Rupert would help you.

PUPKIN shoots a hostile glance back at CELESTE.

SIDNEY:

Would you do that, Rupert? You don't

feel about Barbra the way I do.

MAE:

I'll give you Mr. Burt Reynolds too.

CELESTE:

(needling RUPERT)

Look, Sidney, Rupert doesn't do

that sort of thing.

SIDNEY:

How about it, Rupert? I'll give

you whoever you want.

SIDNEY starts pulling little white cards out of his paper

bag and reading them off.

SIDNEY:

Rodney Dangerfield ... Richard

Harris ... Liza Minelli ... and

she's not so easy to work with

either ... Louise Lasser!

CELESTE:

You're wasting your time.

PUPKIN has been trying to remain apart from the other

three. Finally he turns to SIDNEY.

PUPKIN:

Look, Sidney. I'm just not

interested. This isn't my

whole life, you know.

CELESTE:

What's that supposed to mean --

that it's my whole life, or

Sidney's or Mae's?

MAE:

It is so my whole life.

CELESTE:

Shut up, Mae. What about your

mother? Isn't she part of

your life?

MAE:

It's her whole life too.

The show breaks. The doors swing open and people pour out.

The crowd around the backstage door swells.

POLICEMAN:

(to the crowd)

If you want Jerry's autograph, give

me your piece of paper and I'll

send it backstage.

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Paul D. Zimmerman

Paul D. Zimmerman (3 July 1938 - 2 March 1993 in Princeton, New Jersey) was a screenwriter, film critic and activist. He was a film critic for Newsweek magazine from 1967 to 1975, and also wrote for television shows including Sesame Street but is probably best known for writing The King of Comedy (1983), directed by Martin Scorsese. He was also the co-writer of Lovers and Liars (1979) and Consuming Passions (1988) Zimmerman was the author of many other screenplays, mostly unproduced, as well as the books The Open Man, The Year the Mets Lost Last Place and The Marx Brothers at the Movies (1968). Active in the Nuclear Freeze movement, he managed to become a member of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican Party convention in 1984 in order to be the only person to vote against Ronald Reagan. Zimmerman died of colon cancer months after similarly voting against incumbent President Bush. more…

All Paul D. Zimmerman scripts | Paul D. Zimmerman Books

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