I’m a big fan of Mitch Hedberg and I just felt like talking about him today, including how we found out he had died in the middle of a remote radio broadcast of Jim Breuer’s show.
📍 Johnny Mack with your daily comedy. And he was today. I feel like talking about Mitch Hedberg. I don’t need the filler. I just haven’t talked about mentioned awhile as I pulled together a few stories and I thought I’d talk about Mitch. So one thing I can tell you is I know exactly where I was on March 31st, 2005.
Here’s 📍 why I was at the New York city Javits center doing an episode of Jim Brewer’s radio show for serious ex. We were broadcasted from the car show. And Jim was in a bad mood because the night before
Jim was doing a concert with Mitch Hedberg and Mitch did not show up. And Jim was kind of annoyed because he had to stretch and fill because the other comedian didn’t show up and Jim wound up doing an extra 40 minutes or an hour or whatever was the story there. And Jim was quite upset about it
as we were doing the broadcast from the car show, we got word, there was a reason Mitch Hedberg didn’t show up for that show. He had passed away the night before Mitch Hedberg passed away, March 30th, 2005 in Livingston, New Jersey. Not far from where I live. So we were like, oh, that kind of changed the mood several ways.
One. We felt like we were being a bunch of jerks for being mad at the guy not showing too. We all love Mitch Hedberg and holy cow, he had passed.
📍 From personal experience. I knew at the radio station that I wanted to do a tribute to Mitch Hedberg, but I don’t like being a vulture. So I didn’t want to like the next day be like, oh wait, do you want me to Hedberg tribute? Because then we make it about us. So we waited and I eventually reached out to Mitch’s wife, Lynn Shaw Croft, and, um, Hey would love to do a tribute to Mitch.
Would you be into that? She was into it. She came by, I got to know Lynn reasonably well. And when she came up, she had Mitch’s notebooks with some jokes and a bunch of, I think they were cassettes. They might’ve been CDs, but they were. Live shows recorded late in Mitch’s career. And I was sitting there with Lynn and she hadn’t heard them in a while and they sounded great.
And I said to her, you know, you’ve got another album here.
📍 That album became the posthumous Mitch Hedberg album that do you believe in? Gosh.
I had nothing to do with making the album other than possibly perhaps putting a thought in Lynn’s brain. I’m glad that that album was released from a 2013 article in GQ. GQ wrote Mitch Hedberg was Twitter before Twitter. His jokes were short and Nane and timeless. It was on the road doing standup 300 nights a year, living off vending machines, writing constantly about the world.
He saw. Mike Birbiglia said mitro some of the best jokes that the last three decades, he’s one comedian who all comedians agree is great.
📍 Mitch was never without a pen, never threw away a notebook. Lynn’s Shaw Croft kept most of the notebooks private, but back in 2013, she opened them up to GQ. GQ wrote the results, a masterclass in comedy.
There was only one time Mitch ever lost a notebook. He and Lynn were in Chicago. They’d gotten back to their hotel. When Mitch noticed it was missing, he tore through the hotel room, looking for it. Lynn said it was one of the only times I saw him really visibly upset about. Finally after a while he started telling himself it’s fine.
Everything will be fine. That’s when the phone rang, it was a 📍 kid at a frat party. Apparently Mitch had left the notebook on stage somehow and ended up in the hands of a college-aged fan who wanted to give it back Mitch and Lynn, headed to the party to meet the kid when they got there or relieve, Mitch pulled out a wad of cash, try to hand to the kid, the kid didn’t want any money.
He just wanted Mitch to call him to hang out next time he was in town. But by then it was already five and six in the morning. And Mitch hated to feel indebted to people. He finally looked at the kid and said, just take the F and money, man.
Lynn 📍 says Mitch’s jokes are about our life. He wrote about what he liked. So his jokes were about sandwiches and carrots and staying in hotels. And the weird ways language works.
Now this next thing. I remember Lynn telling this to me. When we were listening to the tapes I referred to earlier, we were in one of these smaller studios that serious. And she pointed out during, at Mitch’s stand-up people would call out the endings before he could finish them. He was having a tough time touring because of that.
So Lynn says later in his career, he had to write jokes that were even shorter and faster.
📍 Examples. When someone tries to hand me out a flyer, it’s just like saying here you throw this away. Or a turtle necks, like being strangled by a really weak guy all day
Mitch knew what else connected with his audience drug jokes. There were dozens. I like the FedEx driver, cause he’s a drug dealer. He doesn’t even know it. And he’s always on time. People associate long hair with drug use. I wish long hair was associated with something other than drug use like an extreme longing for cake that strangers would see a long hair guy and say, that guy eats kick he’s on Bundt cake mothers saying to the daughters, don’t bring the cake eater over here anymore.
It smells like flower. See how excited he got when he found out your birthday was fast approaching.
at one point, Mitch started writing companies. He liked looking for sponsorships. In addition, a gold bond. He wrote a unit ball to say the jokes he wrote with their pens were funnier. Eventually, Jimmy John’s, the sandwich makers signed on to sponsor Mitchell.
📍 from the guardian in 2015, Mitch Hedberg, a slime Alchemist who turned sentences into comedy gold from behind sunglasses and bound head Mitch Hedberg delivered, concise gags that opened up the mundane world and showed anyone can be.
If you flammable and have legs, he never blocking a fire exit. That’s the line that got the writer hooked on Mitch Hedberg, a man standing still on a stage with his eyes shut and Mike and the Stan reciting a list of staccato jokes with a percussive rhythm seemed odd. I’d never heard one liners before, which had no hint of pun slinging a wordplay.
Just funny sentences.
I guess 📍 the writer hadn’t heard Steven, right? Believe me, I’m a huge Mitch Hedberg fan, but there’s surely some Steven Wright influence in there. 📍
Mitch was a drug user or something which caused his death in 2005. But listening to him, it didn’t sound like the ramblings of a typical stoner, but instead, the thoughts of someone unencumbered by the conventional logic that gradually takes us over. As we succumb to adulthood, watching Mitch allowed you to feel like a child again, and our low cats and hamburgers.
Aren’t important. Finding humor in the mundane is.
Jokes such as if you live with a muster, you’d never get the hiccups require a sense of thought, but having been in his presence for two minutes allowed you to think with the head Bertschi in that logic, or is it Hedberg, Ian? How would you pronounce that word? I’m going with head Bergy and it sounds cooler had Bergy and logic.
The guide you seamlessly to the funny, the joke is just 10 words long, but 10 words was enough for Hedberg to paint a hilarious and detailed picture that most people couldn’t paint with 100. However, the audience aren’t just laughing at the painting, but the man with the brush
and the ruined incredulity that a single person is able to have all these thoughts, which don’t make you just say, I’ve never thought that in a way before, but instead I’d never thought about anything like that. Ever.
His long hair often obscured his bout as sunglass face. He never showed dominance over the stage by pacing. His hands would often be held still behind him. He seemed shy, but this made him far more relatable than any confident comedian who chats to audiences with the unfettered glances of an old mate.
Most audience members know they don’t possess the requisite skills to talk on a stage as confidently, such as greats like Steve Martin or Sarah silver. So Mitch Hedberg, his demeanor made him far more human. In many people. He made me realize you don’t need great performance, skills, and ability to write seamless segues to be a comedian.
If the sentences you’re saying are funny, people will laugh. His untimely passing means we’ll never know what one of the most inventive and prolific writers in comedy could have eventually achieved, but watching a handful of his YouTube clips makes it clear. It created more laughs and jokes in his one short life than many other comedians could hope to create.
in 2011 Deadspin road. By all accounts, Mitch Hedberg was pretty regular guy. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, before he ditched the suburb. Literally leaving his parents’ home without telling them after high school graduation. Cause he didn’t know how to tell them he was going. I met Mitch’s parents at the Las Vegas comedy festival
oh, that’s gotta be 15 years ago now. They were so nice. Mitch eventually surfaced in Fort Lauderdale, eventually taking up kitchen work and trying his hand unsuccessfully at open mic comedy nights in the.
He begged his way onto MTV’s short-lived kamikaze. I didn’t know that. And even though the show didn’t last Hedberg was on his way in 96, he appeared on Letterman. Wow. That long ago. Wow. 97. He won the grand prize at the 📍 Seattle comedy competition in 98. He stole the show at the, just for laughs festival in Montreal. Hedberg developed a style of awkward scattershot observational jokes. That weren’t exactly one liners. He was a mentalist. But he was working on another level and say, Henny Youngman, his jokes. Weren’t just riffs on existing tropes. The only norm had burglar here too. Was that there weren’t any norms.
His humor never met you halfway. He pulled listeners into his own head his delivery was as off putting as his material. His was the sort of art that elicits a huh? Wow. As opposed to a wow. Huh? That was his brilliance. The obvious point of comparison is with Steven. Right. And again, on paper, the two comics seem to share a lot in common. , but where right. Was a comic Gollum and Android program to tell off putting jokes, Hedberg was in an odd way, emotionally accessible as offbeat as much of his jokes.
Were they presented in the manner of an oddball childhood friend you hadn’t seen in years?
Though dressed in the garb of turn of the 📍 century hipster Hedbergs jokes were decisively an ironic. He wasn’t engaging in social commentary or Rhine negativity as much as he was bearing his weirdo soul, the stoner labels and accurate, but even the occasional drug user could identify Hedberg.
Was you? Hi thinking you’re funny, but actually being funny.
And that’s how we won us over. The wasted onstage eyes closed sunglasses on bangs over his face, halfway trembling.
He told Joel Stein in 1998. I don’t like to connect with the crowd. I find if you look at people’s faces, you see a disappointed face.
He said sometimes the middle of the night. I think of something that’s funny. I go get a pen, write it down. Or if the pens too far away, I had to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.
He broke the fourth wall repeatedly in an attempt to reposition himself from alone on stage to seated among the audience as like a carbon copy of the previous joke, but with different ingredients, I don’t know. I was trying to pull off there.
a joke, maybe laugh for, I could finish it, which is good. Cause there’s no hinting. All right. Oh, he was so good
📍 Once when being handed a drink, mid joke, a joke that was foundering. Anyway, he just cut the choke off and said that F up a joke. A joke about effing up an FDIC joke. After he broke out, it’s just for laughs. Hedberg got a $500,000 development deal with Fox. He appeared on Letterman a few more times.
He financed his own movie as subtle tribute to his restaurant days called Los enchiladas.
The next paragraph has a couple of jokes that I don’t remember hearing Deadspin rides with disarming subtlety. He deconstructed the Stanhope form by taking on hackneyed subjects and turning them on their head war by bombing deliberately Hopley sports.
No, I know what the F remember that show my three sons. It’d be funny if it was called my one dad. I bought a two bedroom house, but I think I get to decide how many bedrooms there are. I don’t shoe in the context of tripping. Nonsequitors about koala infestations, potato chips. This came off as subversive.
He was blowing himself up, along with everyone in the room. The self-destruction extended to his personal life.
At first, it seemed if Hedbergs riffing on his drug use was more of a dig at his stage persona.
My manager saw me backstage and said, Mitch, don’t use liquor as a crutch. I can’t use liquor as a crutch because a crutch helps me walk liquor, severely F’s up the way I walk.
Some people think I’m high on stage. I would never get high before show because when I’m high, I don’t want to stand in front of a bunch of people. I don’t know.
For stretches. He lived off the grid living out of hotels or out of the RV. He bought with Lin Shaw Croft
in May, 2003. After showing Austin, Mitch was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, he spent two and a half days in jail followed by six months in a hospital, supposedly for the treatment of a leg badly mangled by heroin injections.
Throughout the end of his life had walked on stage with two plastic cups that were widely known to contain alcohol. And at least one specifically identified a screwdrivers Hedberg had killer sets and less successful set, some lack, Verve, some lack direction. Sometimes he couldn’t remember the jokes at all.
Sometimes his fans would holler out the jokes he was trying to tell to help him out. It was interactive, standup.
Even on the good nights, people sung along to the courses that often step on his punchlines Hedberg had so fully seduced his fans of the division between stage and seats fell away. Did he ever hear of dramatic pause, hit sometimes grouch, but that was the point. His fans weren’t attuned to the artifice of performance so much as they were there for communion.
And let’s 📍 wrap with an album review from 2008 from the Washington post. This the review of the posthumous. Do you believe in gosh, a standard performance recorded two months before Hedbergs death? The album has funny moments, but listeners familiar with the comedians. Personally history may find that Hedberg troubled specter looms over the proceedings.
Do you believe in gosh, does include bits on anchovies and carrot juice, but Hedberg also delves into darker subject matter. He seems particularly fixated on missing body parts with references to amputation, a woman born without arms and extended bid on the headless horseman. Granted the materials more silly than morbid I’d hate to be the headless Horseman’s dentist.
He would make very much money.
He also delves in his professional life saying I got a door deal here tonight. I’m working for 50% of the door. Then tomorrow I’m working for 50% of the door. And then on Sunday, I’m going to have a door since the album comprises a seemingly unedited live show. The 40 minute runtime includes at least as much laughter and applause as it does Mitch.
as reactions, the audience are sometimes as funny as his jokes, at one point he trails off, then it shows the audience Chesney is hilarious. Get into my head and come back out and tell me I’m wrong. So as the end of the performance, self-consciousness seems to win out over the professed confidence as Hedberg refers to his jokes as half their needing work and some cases he’s correct, but we’ll never hear the fully realized versions.
The Washington post wrote the album. Strange poignancy may be best captured by one of Hedbergs typically observed setups. How on a ride in a cold air balloon. I’m afraid of Heights. I don’t want to leave here. Well, I’ll take a ride in my cold air balloon cause we ain’t effing going anywhere. And that’s your comedy news for today?
Mitch 📍 Hedberg. One of the greats follow the show on Spotify, apple podcasts, Google podcasts. Good pause. Wherever you get your shows are.
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