Rupert Pupkin, a schizophrenic comedian obsessd by a Leno-like show host meets the man in an arranged chance-encounter. Pupkin pursues the host [played ferociously by Jerry Lewis) who is a teasing Narcissist in hope that Lewis will be able to give DeNiro a speakerbox. The climax moves away from realism (Does it?), subtly sinks into a reality dictated by the reasonable deductions, expectations Rupert has carried.
"MOM!" Ironically, this is probably Marty's most disturbing film. Remember that uncomfortable scene in "Taxi Driver" where Bickle flies into an embarrassing tirade at the campaign office? Stretch that out over an entire film, and you've got "The King of Comedy," for better and for worse. Jet-black humor offers some levity, but this is a painful, cringe-inducing study of celebrity worship and loneliness.
Absolutely, the best "loser" character ever put on film and De Niro's best performance. Every time I watch it I notice a new wince inducing embarrassing little detail in Pupkin. It's hard not to see this as a response to the hoards of Travis Bickle admirers that missed the point of Taxi Driver (something that Scorsese and Schrader aren't blameless for). The bitter attention seeking outcast isn't cool, he's pathetic!