Doreen Elliott

Written by Doreen Elliott

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Jerk, released in 1979, is a timeless comedy classic that has entertained generations of audiences with its hilarious and absurd storyline. Directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin in the lead role, the movie tells the story of Navin Johnson, a dim-witted but well-meaning man who embarks on a series of misadventures as he navigates through life.

Filled with witty dialogue, outrageous gags, and unforgettable characters, The Jerk has solidified its place in movie history as a beloved comedy that continues to captivate audiences. In this article, we will delve into 32 fascinating facts about The Jerk, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes stories, the iconic moments, and the lasting impact this film has had on the comedy genre.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Jerk” is a classic comedy film released in 1979, starring Steve Martin. It’s filled with hilarious moments, iconic quotes, and a heartwarming message about self-discovery.
  • Steve Martin’s performance in “The Jerk” launched his film career and inspired countless comedians. The movie’s absurd humor and memorable one-liners continue to entertain audiences and influence comedy creators.
Table of Contents

The Jerk was released in 1979

The Jerk, directed by Carl Reiner, hit the big screen in 1979, taking audiences on a hilarious journey with its unconventional plot.

“I was born a poor black child”

This iconic opening line, spoken by Steve Martin’s character Navin R. Johnson, has become one of the most memorable quotes in comedy film history.

The Jerk marked Steve Martin’s first starring role

Steve Martin, known for his comedic genius, made his breakthrough as a leading actor in The Jerk, showcasing his unique blend of physical comedy and witty dialogue.

The film was co-written by Steve Martin

Not only did Steve Martin star in The Jerk, but he also co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb, infusing the film with his own comedic style.

The movie was a box office success

The Jerk was a commercial hit, grossing over $100 million worldwide, cementing its status as a beloved comedy classic.

The Jerk features a memorable soundtrack

The movie’s soundtrack includes the catchy and infectious song “Tonight You Belong To Me” performed by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters.

Bernadette Peters portrayed Marie Kimble Johnson

The talented Bernadette Peters, known for her Broadway career, played the role of Navin’s love interest in the film.

Famous comedic actor Carl Reiner had a cameo

The director of The Jerk, Carl Reiner, made a brief but memorable appearance in the film as a customer at Navin’s gas station.

Navin’s adopted family runs a gas station

Navin is taken in by a poor African American family who owns a gas station, which becomes a key setting for many comedic situations throughout the movie.

The Jerk inspired a catchphrase

Navin’s declaration of “I don’t need anything!” became a popular catchphrase among fans of the movie.

The movie features hilarious sight gags

The Jerk is filled with visual comedy, including Navin’s invention of the “Opti-grab,” which leads to unexpected mishaps and laughter.

Steve Martin’s comedic timing shines throughout the film

Known for his impeccable timing, Steve Martin delivers countless hilarious moments in The Jerk, solidifying his status as a comedy legend.

The Jerk was critically acclaimed

The film received positive reviews from critics, praising its unique humor, Steve Martin’s performance, and the witty screenplay.

The Jerk has a cult following

Over the years, The Jerk has amassed a dedicated fan base who appreciate its offbeat humor and quotable lines.

The movie explores themes of identity and self-discovery

At its core, The Jerk is more than just a comedy; it delves into Navin’s journey of finding his place in the world.

The Jerk showcases a range of comedic talents

The film features a talented ensemble cast, including Bernadette Peters, M. Emmet Walsh, Jackie Mason, and Richard Ward.

The Jerk was influenced by silent cinema

Director Carl Reiner drew inspiration from the silent film era, incorporating slapstick comedy and physical humor into the movie.

The Jerk is known for its absurd humor

The movie embraces absurdity, with outrageous situations and quirky characters that leave viewers in stitches.

The Jerk marked the beginning of a successful collaboration

Carl Reiner and Steve Martin went on to work together on several more films following the success of The Jerk.

The film’s one-liners have become iconic

From “He hates these cans!” to “The new phone book’s here!,” The Jerk is filled with memorable one-liners that have stood the test of time.

The Jerk parodies American rags-to-riches stories

With Navin’s rise from poverty to wealth, the movie playfully mocks conventional narratives of success.

The film’s screenplay is filled with comedic gold

The witty and clever dialogue in The Jerk remains a highlight of the film and contributes to its enduring popularity.

The Jerk showcases a mix of slapstick and verbal comedy

The movie balances physical comedy with quick-witted banter, appealing to a wide range of comedic tastes.

The Jerk has inspired countless comedy performers

Steve Martin’s performance in The Jerk has influenced and inspired many comedians who followed in his footsteps.

The movie’s success launched Steve Martin’s film career

Following The Jerk, Steve Martin went on to star in numerous successful films, solidifying his status as a leading comedy actor.

Navin’s dog, Shithead, became a fan favorite

Navin’s loyal companion in the film, an adorable and mischievous dog named Shithead, stole the hearts of viewers.

The Jerk is filled with memorable comedic set pieces

From Navin’s encounter with a crazed sniper to his misadventures as a carnival worker, the movie is packed with hilarious scenes.

The Jerk has achieved cult status

Over the years, The Jerk has gained a devoted following, with fans celebrating its unique brand of humor.

The film’s humor has stood the test of time

Even decades after its release, The Jerk continues to be regarded as one of the funniest comedies ever made.

The Jerk continues to inspire comedic writers and filmmakers

The comedic stylings of The Jerk have left a lasting impact on the genre, influencing future generations of comedy creators.

The Jerk remains a quotable film

Lines like “I’m picking out a thermos for you” and “This is the kind of music that tells me to go out there and be somebody!” are ingrained in popular culture.

The Jerk offers a delightful blend of absurdity and heart

With its zany humor and underlying message of self-discovery, The Jerk continues to entertain audiences and leave a lasting impression.


In conclusion, “The Jerk” is an iconic comedy film that has stood the test of time. With its hilarious and quotable moments, memorable characters, and a heartfelt story, it has become a fan favorite over the years. From Steve Martin’s brilliant performance as Navin Johnson to the witty and clever writing, the movie continues to entertain audiences of all ages. Whether you’re a fan of classic comedies or new to the genre, “The Jerk” is a must-watch film that will leave you laughing from start to finish. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy this timeless comedic gem.


Q: Who directed “The Jerk”?

A: “The Jerk” was directed by Carl Reiner.

Q: When was “The Jerk” released?

A: “The Jerk” was released on December 14, 1979.

Q: Who stars in “The Jerk”?

A: “The Jerk” stars Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, and Catlin Adams.

Q: What is the plot of “The Jerk”?

A: “The Jerk” follows the story of Navin Johnson, a white man who was adopted and raised by a black family. He sets off on a hilarious journey to find his purpose in life, encountering various comedic situations along the way.

Q: Is “The Jerk” based on a true story?

A: No, “The Jerk” is not based on a true story. It is a fictional comedy film.

Q: What is the running time of “The Jerk”?

A: The running time of “The Jerk” is approximately 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Q: Is “The Jerk” suitable for all ages?

A: While “The Jerk” is generally considered a comedy suitable for all ages, it does contain some adult humor and themes.

Q: Has “The Jerk” received any awards?

A: While “The Jerk” did not win any major awards, it has gained a cult following and remains beloved by fans.

If you enjoyed these fascinating facts about The Jerk, why not explore more? Dive into the enigmatic world of Steve Martin, uncover the charm of classic films like The Thin Man Goes Home, or discover the hilarity at comedy festivals around the globe. Each article offers a unique perspective on the entertainment industry, promising to inform and amuse. So, whether you're a die-hard fan or simply curious, click through and continue your journey through the captivating realm of movies and comedy.

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