Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Late, Great Mitch Hedberg

cross-posted at newcritics...

I loved the comedy of Mitch Hedberg. He was sort of like a hip version of Steven Wright. His jokes were often obtuse and esoteric. Or they were stupid, depending on your perspective. At times his delivery was unprofessional – he’d stumble on a line or laugh as if he were hearing the joke himself. This wouldn’t work for most comedians, but somehow it worked for him, adding something to his charm.

It must have been in ’03 or ’04. My wife and I used to watch Comedy Central on Friday nights. They do about 2 hours of stand-up. We’d never heard of Mitch Hedberg, but we hadn’t heard of half the comedians that the show featured. At first we didn’t know how to take him. Long hair, sparse beard and purple-ish round sunglasses. Shy and naturally affable, eyes often apparently closed, looking down at his feet. Lines like, “My friend came up to me and said, ‘Hey! You know what I like? Mashed potatoes!’ and I said, ‘That’s not fair – you didn’t give me time to guess!” and, “I don’t have a girlfriend – I just know a girl who’d be really really mad if she heard me say that.”

We liked him, but he didn’t really grab us until we saw a repeat of the performance about 6 months later. Something clicked, and we were roaring.

Mitch Hedberg suffered from severe stage-fright, which he apparently tried to battle with drugs and alcohol. It was a battle he lost in March of 2005, right when he was on the verge of stardom. We had planned to see him in 2004, but had just spent money on a Lewis Black performance (which incidentally was hilarious!) We figured, 'next time.' He was due to play in Atlanta in May of 2005.

Please enjoy the comedy of Mitch Hedberg on youtube.

Clip from Mitch Heberg's Comedy Special

Mitch's appearance on David Letterman.


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