Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Tribeca: Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese & Jerry Lewis Reflect On 'The King Of Comedy,' Improv, Deleted Scenes & More

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist April 29, 2013 at 2:57PM

The Tribeca Film Festival closed last night with a digitally-restored screening of “The King Of Comedy.” Thirty years later, the film still reverberates as an acidic take on celebrity worship that has, oddly enough, become timeless, and the re-master is gorgeous. The film was greeted with rapturous applause, but the real fireworks started after a raucous Q+A featuring a chatty Martin Scorsese, a shy Robert De Niro, and a more-than-eager Jerry Lewis.
2

The King OF Comedy Martin Scorsese Jerry Lewis

At the mid-point of the Q+A, Lewis joined the duo, sprightly and eager to be there. After beginning with an off-color routine about bestiality and the subway system, Lewis discussed how he got involved with the production. Speaking to Scorsese, he said, “You called me, you said, you and Bobby were talking last night, and we thought it would be great if you did ‘The King Of Comedy.’ I was playing Lake Tahoe, and you called me, and I said, I’d go anywhere the world for you Marty. Send me the script, but I don’t need it because I’d love to work with Marty and you. That’s how I met Marty.” He added drolly, “And he was thrilled.”

Scorsese, who says he still screens Lewis’ films, mentioning “The Ladies’ Man” as the last one he’s re-watched, was in awe of Lewis’ skill, remarking about how perfect he was to play talk show host Jerry Langford. Regarding casting, Scorsese said, “If you go to the talk show hosts, then you go to the actors, a list of actors, then you go to directors… Jerry’s been all of them. Performer, director, actor, host. Inventor. What we use now, a lot of people don’t know this, but the video assist was started by Jerry. Prior to that, we didn’t know what we were getting, he did the video assist first.”

The King Of Comedy Robert De Niro

Lewis started off his comments by establishing, “When the comedy comes, if the comedy is real, it’s always gonna score better.” Later, he emphasized this by revealing that a tense scene at Langford’s summer home when Pupkin rudely intrudes, revealing that was a product of improv. “The entire scene in my home when he comes in, and I come back to my home with the golf club, all of that was ad-libbed, the whole seven-to-nine minute scene,” Lewis said. “The line with Bobby, I said something about Hitler, he said, That’s not fair! The man made a mistake!”

Scorsese added, “Everything was so uncomfortable to make that scene.”

To which Lewis interjected, “We heard you sitting behind the camera, hysterical. I said, are you gonna continue laughing, or are you gonna cut this goddamn scene?”

Though she couldn’t be there for the screening, Sandra Bernhard recorded a message to play to the audience. Edited quickly, the minute-long message featured jokes mixed with rapid-fire remembrances that the audience laughed over, though she did get to ask Lewis, “Hey, remember when you called me Fish Lips?” Bernhard was famously discovered for “The King Of Comedy” during a routine with fellow stand-up Beltzer, material that Scorsese says was slightly repurposed for the scene where she has Langford taped down at gunpoint.

The King Of Comedy

Lewis, responding to Bernhard’s story about stealing back his own apology letter to the comedienne, talked a bit about working with her in a way that suggested grudges had not been forgiving. “I remember the day we were doing the tape scene,” he recalled. “I went to Marty and said, 'Marty, there’s so much angst going on. Jerry Langford has so much angst and anger at this injustice that’s been perpetrated on him, and I think when he gets out of the tape, he should punch her in the mouth.' He said, 'You wanna do that?' I said, 'More than anything in the world.' I gave her a shot. Thank god I missed, because she’d have been dead.” He added, charitably, “But she’s the reason for birth control.”

Fortunately for Lewis, it was one of the few bits of reality that intruded upon the picture. When asked if he’s ever experienced an encounter with a Pupkin-type, he casually mentions, “I’ve had three or four stalkers in the last forty years. They’re all gone. The sons of Al Capone have been hanging out for me. I gave ‘em a call, told them, you should visit this schmuck.” He shrugged, “You get out of it pretty easy.”

This article is related to: Tribeca Film Festival, Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Martin Scorsese, The King of Comedy


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates