The King of Comedy, Martin Scorsese (1982)

A drastically underrated Scorsese which should really be shown as an appetizer before every screening of Taxi Driver. Rupert Pupkin is every bit as pathetic/psychotic as Mr. Bickle, but a little less . . . I guess let’s say grumpy? No, wait, I know. The King of Comedy:Los Angeles::Taxi Driver: New York. Yes, I realize that both movies are set in New York, but that’s just because Scorsese was too lazy to go to Los Angeles to make this one. Psychologically, it’s as L.A. as The Player, maybe even more so. Featuring the slowest burn of all time from Jerry Lewis, and the gemlike-flame genius of Sandra Bernhard as Rupert’s comrade in the trenches of celebrity obsession.

Here, thanks to some random web site, is the transcript of the monologue Bernhard delivers, brilliantly, in front of a gagged and duct-tape-encased Lewis. I like thinking about it as a poem.

I feel completely
impulsive tonight.
Anything could happen.
I have so much to tell you.
I don’t know
where to start.
I want to tell you
everything about myself
everything you don’t know.
Do you like these glasses?
Crystal. Beautiful.
I bought them just for you.
There’s something about them
the simplicity of them.
If you don’t like them
if there’s a doubt
in your mind
[throws wineglass over shoulder]
You know,
sometimes during the day
I’ll do the simplest things.
I’ll be taking a bath
and I say to myself
“I wonder if Jerry’s
taking a bath right now?”
And I just hope
that you’re not drowning
or something.
I get really worried about you
like something terrible
is going to happen.
I have these daydreams
like I’m with you
at the golf course
driving your cart
just driving around.
Need a putter, Jer,
you know?
Need an iron?
I don’t even know
how to play golf.
I played with my parents once
my father
but, uh, but I love you.
I never told my parents
that I love them.
They never told me
that they loved me either
which was fine with me.
But I love you.
You want some wine?
No, OK
I’m not in the mood to drink
either, though.
I’m in the mood to
be alone with you.
Why don’t we just
clear off the table?
I was thinking
why don’t we go upstairs?
But that’s so predictable.
Let’s just take
everything off the table
and do it right here.
That would blow your mind.
It would blow my mind.
I’ve never done
anything like that.
I’ve never even had anybody
over for dinner, let alone
made love on the table.
I want to do that.
I just want to dance.
I want to, like,
put on some Shirelles.
I want to be black.
Wouldn’t that be insane?
God, you know
who I wish was tonight?
I wish I was Tina Turner
just dancing through the room.

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