Ryan Nelson

Layers: How Robert De Niro Prepared for His Role in “The Comedian”

Layers: How Robert De Niro Prepared for His Role in “The Comedian”
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In order to prepare for his role in the upcoming movie, The Comedian, Robert De Niro first partnered with writer and producer Lewis Friedman who wrote jokes for him. However, De Niro found them to be too crude for his sense of humor. Then the movie’s director, Taylor Hackford took De Niro to the long-respected comedy club, the Comedy Cellar. Comedian Jessica Kirson happened to be performing there that night. Once she caught wind of the fact that De Niro was in the audience, she made every effort to focus her signature material onto him. She turned her back to the audience and did her flat monotone of her signature inner monologue: “It doesn’t matter who is here. Are you going to make it tonight?”

De Niro and Hackford immediately fell in love with her act. As a result, Kirson was hired to step in to write jokes for De Niro. She earned the nickname of the stand-up whisperer from Friedman as a result. Friedman later stated that it was most important for De Niro to be believable in his role than be “good” at playing a deranged, aspiring comic.

The Comedian

Hackford claims that he originally intended for The Comedian to be a “dark drama with some comedy”. However, Hackford decided to reverse the genres after testing the material with the audience and finding that the audience was laughing very boisterously. De Niro states that doing stand-up is not as easy as those who have years of experience with it make it look. He names Bill Murray as one of the examples.

De Niro’s Previous Experiences in Comedic Roles

The Comedian will not be the first movie in which Robert De Niro has played a comic role. He has done at least 20 others starting with Midnight Run in 1988 and ending so far with Little Fockers in 2010. However, most of his roles so far have been parodic spin-offs of his own personality playing up to what the genre’s audience would more or less expect from him. His previous films have not really demanded much more than that from him. The most lauded comedic performance for De Niro came in The King of Comedy, which is now 34 years old.

As a result, The Comedian could be said to be De Niro’s chance at redeeming himself by freshening up the material. Working with actual stand-up comedians may be just the move that he needs to come out with purely fresh material.

Mentions: The Comedian is in theatres NOW. Get more info HERE!

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