Sean Penn will direct his friend and method acting idol Robert De Niro in The Comedian.

Kristin Wiig, hot off her Bridesmaids success, will co-star.

Despite the title, the movie is a drama centering on a once loved TV comic (De Niro) who is past his prime.

After being sentenced to community service for hitting an audience member in the head with his microphone, the comic meets a defiant redhead (Wiig) who turns his life upside down.

De Niro demonstrated in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1983) that he's well-equipped to play a jokester who is missing a few marbles along with the punchlines, and Penn, whose scuffles with the paparazzi are legendary, knows a thing or two about court-ordered community service.

Production is slated to start in the spring.

Art Linson (American Hot Wax) and Jeffrey Ross wrote the movie. Linson will produce along with John Linson, Jon Kilik and De Niro.