Frank Whaley’s ”The Jimmy Show” Is So Underrated | ArtiFact 48

ArtiFact: Books, Art, Culture

11-10-2023 • 59分

Taking great influence from Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy", Frank Whaley's underrated character portrait, "The Jimmy Show", was attacked by critics and filmgoers upon release, and is mostly forgotten now. In ArtiFact 48, critics Jessica Schneider, Ethan Pinch, Alex Sheremet, and Ezekiel Yu break down the film’s strengths and weaknesses while putting it in the wider context of American comedy and stand-up routines. You can also watch this discussion on our YouTube channel:

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B Side topics: Alex hides & tricks everybody; soy tag vs. Brooklyn-style manhunt in the 1990s; Jessica and Alex indulge; one never stops cringing at Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy; Rupert Pupkin is the perfect name; Travis Bickle; Zeke watches King of Comedy for the first time; Rupert Pupkin vs. Jimmy; Robert DeNiro is intentionally made less sexy; Martin Scorsese’s diversity as a filmmaker; unique imagery and symbolism in The King of Comedy; Rupert Pupkin is not less talented than those around him; “my name is Rupert: it may not mean a lot to you, but it means a lot to me”; leveraging fame; reality vs. fantasy/day-dream in the film’s ending; comparing to Sidney Lumet’s “Network”; the role of sexual grotesque in Scorsese, Woody Allen, & Robert Altman; why Rupert is animated in his renditions, but placid in his fantasies; is King of Comedy an artistic dead-end; comparing to Scorsese’s “After Hours” & male sexual psychology; King of Comedy in the Scorsese pantheon; Scorsese’s Shutter Island as a low point in his career; no point for Gangs of New York to exist; Bresson’s style was forged from personal needs; Andrei Tarkovsky & Ingmar Bergman; Martin Scorsese’s scriptwriters; & news, politics, Gaza, Israel, Hamas, Tony Blinken gets in trouble on Babi Yar, & much more…

Jessica Schneider’s review of Frank Whaley’s The Jimmy Show:

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0:00 – introducing Frank Whaley’s The Jimmy Show; links with Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy

2:40 – why Jessica wanted to review the film; fan expectations vs. artistic reality; portrait of a failure; even the descriptions of the film are wrong; Ray vs. Jimmy: who is the better person; Zeke on how Jimmy’s character creates a ceiling for the film; Ethan Hawke

9:27 – Ethan expresses distrust for Realist Cinema; is The Jimmy Show a comedy or a portrait of a comic character; the dynamic between Jimmy and his grandmother; tender vs. unlikeable moments; why the film is neither satire nor tragedy; the importance of the film’s title to its meaning; the Mike Leigh connection

19:10 – Alex on why Jimmy fails to read the room; how his classist humor gets him into trouble; failures of internalization; the Al Bundy / Married With Children connection; what makes the divorce scene so well-written; Jimmy’s character arc sees her become decisive & firm, while Jimmy doesn’t grow much

28:25 – Ethan: this is a very American film; fame for the sake of fame; Frank Whaley’s use of time can be quite arresting; is Jimmy a worthwhile character; Ethan pushes back against our praise for the film

38:20 – Ethan: isn’t EVERYTHING the Jimmy Show, the Alex Show, the Ethan Show?; the nature of motivated reasoning; people wish to be recognized, but for what?; the Milli Vanilli connection; Taylor Swift’s blandness IS the point; why Eugene O’ Neill didn’t sell out; revisiting Mike Leigh films

49:34 – does the ending “serve Jimmy right”; the nature of comedy; Ethan on American-style standup comedy & machismo

Tags: #films #review #comedy