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Outside the television studio where the popular Kip Cooper Show is in progress, an aspiring comic begs Monte Wilson, Kip's agent, to help him get to the top, and Monte tells him the story of Kip's rise to fame: One hot night, while entertaining at a hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Kip hogs the stage, to the disgust of the other performers on the bill. Later, at the train station, Kip makes a pass at Fay Washburn, one half of the "McGraw Sisters" act. She agrees to date him, but when she mentions marriage, Kip backs off. Later, Kip confronts Monte at his hotel and demands better bookings. Monte responds by advising Kip to develop an original act rather than copying other comedians. The next morning, Monte and Kip unsuccessfully make the rounds of the clubs. Later, Kip pretends to run into Fay accidentally outside the business school that she attends. She quickly lets him know that she sees through his ruse and invites him to dinner with her parents, who formerly had a vaudeville act. Kip remembers them and proceeds to demonstrate his mastery of their entire act. Kip then persuades Fay to leave business school and resurrect the act with him. After a rehearsal, Kip attempts to seduce Fay at Monte's apartment, and insulted, she tells him to find a new partner, but quickly forgives him. When Kip and Fay demonstrate the new act for Monte, however, he bluntly tells them it is outdated and offers Kip a single at a "smoker." Kip drops the act without a second thought. At the club, he struggles to entertain the rowdy audience, but is attacked by the crowd and cheated out of his fee. The next morning, Fay tells Kip about a casting call for the comic lead in an operetta. The stage manager's brother-in-law gets the part, but tells Kip that he plans to leave the show in Minneapolis and suggests that Kip take a minor part so that he will be ready to step into the lead when that happens. Kip takes the small part, but tells Fay and her parents that he was hired as the lead. His lie is almost exposed when the Washburns attend the opening night performance, but Kip accidentally knocks out one of the actors and does an impromptu comedy routine. His shenanigans during the performance get him fired, however. Later, Fay takes a part in the chorus of a new musical comedy starring Eddie Egan, an old friend of the Washburns'. The famous comedian is married to the much younger Nancy, the female star of the show. When Eddie has a heart attack during a performance, Kip's familiarity with the material comes in handy, and he is hired to replace Eddie until he recovers. Kip is a big hit in the part, and when Nancy cultivates his friendship, Kip unthinkingly ignores the faithful Fay. After Kip demonstrates his performance for Eddie, Eddie reminds him that the great clowns are able to touch the hearts of their audience, not just tell jokes. Kip is hoping that Eddie will not recover until after the New York City opening of the show, but to his disappointment, Eddie announces his intention to return. The night before the show moves to New York, Kip invites Eddie onstage to do a number with him, and Eddie collapses and dies. Fay angrily accuses Kip of killing Eddie, and although the doctor assures him that he was not the cause of Eddie's death, Kip still feels responsible. Nancy then offers Kip the lead on a permanent basis, explaining that she must continue to work because Eddie did not leave her any money. Realizing that it is time to stop performing others' material, Kip turns down her offer and soon becomes successful with his own act. Later, on his program, Kip and Fay announce their marriage.