Mitch Hedberg

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Mitch Hedberg
Mitch Hedberg
Mitch Hedberg
Born February 24, 1968(1968-02-24)
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Died March 29, 2005 (aged 37)
Livingston, New Jersey[1]
Medium stand-up, film
Nationality American
Years active 1989-2005
Genres Observational comedy, Surreal humor, Word play
Spouse Lynn Shawcroft
Notable works and roles Mitch All Together
Strategic Grill Locations
Do You Believe in Gosh?

Mitchell Lee Hedberg (February 24, 1968 – March 29, 2005)[2] was an American stand-up comedian known for his surreal humor and unconventional comedic delivery. Hedberg's comedy typically featured short, sometimes one-line jokes,[3] and observational comedy, mixed with absurd elements and non sequiturs.[4] Hedberg's comedy and on-stage persona gained him a cult following,[5] with audience members sometimes shouting out the punchlines to his jokes before he could finish them.[6]


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Mitch Hedberg was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Arnold and Mary Hedberg.[7] He graduated from Harding High School in Saint Paul and was married to Canadian comedian Lynn Shawcroft[8] on February 25, 1999.[2]

[edit] Career

He began his career in 1989 playing open mic nights in southern Florida.[3] Two years later, in 1991, he moved to Seattle, where, due to his continued efforts, his popularity increased. However, Hedberg did encounter some degree of difficulty. It took him more than a few years to come up with a good deal of material, and he also needed to conquer his stage fright. His fear was so intense it left a mark on him throughout his career, sometimes even leading him to perform with his eyes closed. He first achieved national exposure in 1996, performing at the prestigious Just for Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival,[3] which aired on Comedy Central. Hedberg appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman ten times[6] and became one of the show's most successful American comedians.

Hedberg could be heard as the voice of Jimmy John's radio advertisements during the months leading up to and after his death. He was also the voice of the Atlanta Thrashers "Hockey Love" ad campaign in 2002–2003. Every performance of the Insomniac tour, headed by Hedberg's friend and former tour-mate Dave Attell, featured a toast to Hedberg at the end of the show.

The 2005 film Lords of Dogtown was dedicated to the memory of Hedberg, who appeared in the film.[9]

[edit] Death

Late in the evening on March 29, 2005, Hedberg was found dead in his hotel room in Livingston, New Jersey.[1] His death was confirmed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press later in the day.

Hedberg was known to be a drug user, referring to it in some of his jokes ("I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too"). Hedberg was arrested in Austin, Texas, in May 2003 for possession of heroin.[1] He was also born with a heart defect for which he received extensive treatment as a child.[10] It was initially speculated that his heart condition may have played a part in his death until the New Jersey medical examiner's office reported "multiple drug toxicity", in the form of a cocaine and heroin "speedball", as the official cause of death.[1] Mitch Hedberg's funeral was at St. Ambrose of Woodbury Church in Minnesota.

[edit] Style

Hedberg was set apart from his stand-up comedy peers by many traits, including his unique manner of speech (particularly the infrequency with which he used contractions), a style he adopted later in his career,[11] his abrupt delivery, and an unusual stage presence. His jokes focused largely on wordplay, non-sequiturs, and object observations. His act usually consisted equally of compact one- or two-liners similar to the style of Steven Wright in addition to longer routines, often with each line as a punchline. Many of his jokes stemmed from his everyday thoughts or situations.

As a result of his stage fright, Hedberg often performed wearing sunglasses, with his head down, with his hair in his face or with his eyes closed in order to avoid eye contact with the audience. He would often stand upstage during performances or perform with his back to the audience. Mitch would also constantly move in one spot, and when holding the mic in some skits, uncontrollably shake it as a result of his nervousness. [12]

Hedberg was noticeably self-aware of the status of his jokes, whether they were poorly delivered, underexplained, or just poorly received. He occasionally added disclaimers to the end of jokes to let the audience know that his reaction to the joke was not unlike theirs.

Hedberg most notably acknowledged when jokes were poorly delivered or received in the form of a resigned "all right." He also toyed with his audiences after a joke did not gain the reception he had intended, occasionally quipping, "That joke's better than you acted." During recordings for CDs, he would often joke that he would find a way to edit a failed joke to make it seem well received, such as "adding" laughter to the end of a joke about numbers. Following a bombed joke on Strategic Grill Locations, Mitch suggested, "All right...that joke is going to be good because I'm going to take all the words out and add new words. That joke will be fixed."[13]

Comedy Central Records announced the release of the first album of new Mitch Hedberg material on June 10, 2008. The CD, titled Do You Believe in Gosh? was released September 9, 2008, and contains material recorded at the Improv in Ontario, California in January 2005. Hedberg's wife Lynn wrote the introduction, in which she stated that the performance was in preparation for an end of the year CD recording.[14]

[edit] Quotations

  • "I was in a casino, minding my own business, and this guy came up to me and said, 'You're gonna have to move. You're blocking a fire exit.' As though if there was a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you're flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit. Unless you're a table."
  • "An escalator can never break; it can only become stairs. You would never see an 'Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order' sign, just 'Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.'"
  • "Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. 'Damn it, Otto, you're an alcoholic.' 'Damn it, Otto, you have lupus.' One of those two doesn't sound right."

[edit] Discography

[edit] Filmography

Year Title Role
1999 Los Enchiladas! Lee
2000 Almost Famous Eagles Road Manager
2005 Lords of Dogtown Urethane Wheels Guy

[edit] TV appearances

Year Title Role/Info
1998 That '70s Show Episode 11, as Frank
Premium Blend Episode dated May 23, 1998 as Himself
1999 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Episodes 604 and 609 as Himself
Comedy Central Presents Himself
1998 Home Movies Episodes 104, 105, 112, and 113 as The Pet Eulogist, Mitch, Cop, and Dr. Fizzel (Anger Management Counselor), respectively
2001 Ed Episode 110 as Dave
Just for Laughs in Montreal Himself
Late Friday Himself
2002 Saddle Rash Various voices
2003 Late Show with David Letterman Himself
Late Show with David Letterman Himself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself
Crank Yankers Himself
2004 Shorties Watchin' Shorties Episodes 1 through 9 as Himself

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d The Associated Press. "Report: Mitch Hedberg died of drug overdose". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  2. ^ a b Soylent Communications. "Mitch Hedberg". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  3. ^ a b c Comedy Central. "Mitch Hedberg". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  4. ^ News Services. "Mitch Hedberg, 37, Dies; Offbeat Stand-Up Comedian". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ Kolowich, Steve. "Cult comedian Mitch Hedberg dies on tour". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  6. ^ a b Fierman, Daniel. "Comic Tragedy".,,1080613,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  7. ^ "To All of Mitch's Fans". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  8. ^ Murray, Noel. "Interviews: Mitch Hedberg". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Rice, Ian. "Comedian Mitch Hedberg IS STILL ALIVE !". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  11. ^ YouTube - Mitch Hedberg at Jongleurs
  12. ^ Gonzales, Matt. "Mitch Hedberg + Stephen Lynch". Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  13. ^ Mitch Hedberg: Strategic Grill Locations
  14. ^ Do you believe in Gosh? liner notes, Lynn Shawcroft, 2008
  15. ^ COMEDY CENTRAL Records(R) to Release New Mitch Hedberg CD 'Do You Believe in Gosh?'... | Reuters

Shecky magazine.

[edit] External links

NAME Hedberg, Mitch
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Hedberg, Mitchell Lee
SHORT DESCRIPTION stand-up comedian
DATE OF BIRTH February 24, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America
DATE OF DEATH March 30, 2005
PLACE OF DEATH Livingston, New Jersey, United States of America
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