Taylor Hackford (Parker) has signed on to direct Robert De Niro (Grudge Match) in The Comedian, an Art Linson (What Just Happened) script that follows the life of an aging insult comic. The film, which was originally in the hands of Mike Newell (Great Expectations), saw the director back out due to scheduling concerns.
The film has been described as something of a passion project for De Niro, who’s worked with writer Linson’s material in the aforementioned 2008 film What Just Happened. He’s also worked alongside revered insult comic Don Rickles (Toy Story 3) in Casino. That connection, along with De Niro’s infamous turn as Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, should give De Niro, a notorious method actor, some helpful reference points for his character in The Comedian.
The Comedian has been classified as a drama/comedy, which tends to be the standard for films following the lives of comics. Many films have highlighted the often humorously depressing lifestyle of comedians, and the balancing act between onstage performance and backstage struggles. Movies like Lenny (1974), Mr. Saturday Night (1992), Man on the Moon (1999), and Funny People (2009) all deal with the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of comedians to varying degrees, often toeing the line between tragic and hilarious. Even FX’s television hit Louie often manages to highlight the everyday struggles of comics.
The stand-up material in The Comedian was written by Jeffrey Ross, the well-known celebrity roaster who has made a name for himself on Comedy Central. The film is set to start shooting in New York in January 2016.