Arthur Fleck's stand-up act falls flat in the final trailer for Joker - which is surprising given that his joke is stolen from the late, great comedian Bob Monkhouse. Perhaps it just goes to show that comedy is all about the delivery.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker is a standalone film that's not connected to the ongoing DC Extended Universe, and is set in the 1980s when Bruce Wayne is still only a child. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur, a miserable and down-on-his luck man who has a day job as a sign-spinner in a clown costume, but dreams of being a real comedian. Based on the trailer it looks like he gets to live his dream eventually, but along the way transforms into the notorious Batman villain Joker, and leaves a trail of chaos in his wake.
Released earlier this week, the final trailer for Joker has a scene where Arthur is in the hospital with his sick mother, and sees comedy show host Murray Franklin (played by Robert De Niro) on TV. In a bit about people thinking that they can do his job, Murray plays a clip of Arthur's stand-up act where he says, "When I was a little boy and told people I was going to be a comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well, no one's laughing now." Afterwards, Murray quips, "You can say that again, pal!" Perhaps the comedy club's patrons aren't laughing because they're creeped out by Arthur's general aura, or perhaps it's because they know Arthur's cribbing his material from someone else.
Bob Monkhouse was a British comedian and entertainer, though he was perhaps best known as the host of many TV quiz shows like Family Fortunes and Celebrity Squares. The original wording of the Joker joke was, "They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian... They're not laughing now!" - and it was just one of many classic one-line gags from Monkhouse. Among the others are, "I want to die like my father, peacefully in his sleep, not screaming and terrified, like his passengers" and "I tend to sleep in the nude. Which isn't a bad thing except for maybe on those long flights."
Monkhouse continued to perform stand-up comedy up until he passed away in 2003 at the age of 75 (one of his later jokes was "I can still enjoy sex at 74 - I live at 76, so it's no distance"). It's likely that Arthur's joke isn't actually stolen in the movie, but instead was included in the script as a tribute to Monkhouse. After all, it's a pretty great joke.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022