Mitch Hedberg wasn’t just a man. He didn’t just have a knack or just a talent for telling jokes, he had a gift. It is eight years now since his death in 2005. Hedberg’s jokes are timeless, if you listen to his material it is not just a current pop culture reference. It is a abstract way of thinking on common every day things. Hedberg was the best at this. I don’t believe we would have comics like Demetri Martin without Mitch Hedberg paving the way. The non-sequitur style and his verbal approach to his jokes are absolutely hilarious. Hedberg still in my favorite stand up comic.
The beginning. I first noticed Mitch Hedberg on the cartoon Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist in 1999– and then later on another squigglevision cartoon “Home Movies” where he does a voice of Mitch the 5th grader. He stuck out with his unique style of speaking and his pausing and flow of certain words. Making not necessarily funny banter–funny. So by the time Mitch’s Comedy Central special aired, I was like “Oh ya, that guy!” I remember seeing him on various late night talk shows after that, and he was always great. The way that he presented himself on stage was always intriguing to me. It was just as entertaining to watch his mannerisms as it is to listen to his jokes. He would stare at the floor, look up occasionally, or look straight ahead closing his eyes half the time with his hair covering his face. It wasn’t like he had stage fright necessarily, it just seemed like he was self conscience about telling his jokes. I could totally relate to him just being a normal guy, and his quirky stage presence made him endearing to the audience.
Mitch All Together, came out in 2003 and was Hedberg’s 2nd comedy record. This was my first comedy CD I bought and was super excited to own it. It is such a great comedy album, if not THE greatest. Mitch makes a joke on there that if he wants to have his first CD in stores he has to go into a store and leave it there. Comedy Central re-released his first CD, Strategic Grill Locations in a wide release. My co-founder here at thenerdfiler,com Topher is a big Mitch Hedberg fan as well. I remember when I first started working with him, that was the first thing we bonded over. We would get giddy by imagining that one day another CD of unreleased work from Mitch would get put out. Topher would refer to Strategic Grill Locations as the Old Testament, and Mitch All Together as the New Testament. Then it happened… Do You Believe In Gosh? came out! An unreleased Mitch material CD, and it’s pretty solid. Definitely not the best out of the three, but anything new is very much welcomed.
Fandom. I think if you are a Mitch Hedberg fan, you ARE a Mitch Hedberg fan. I named my tortoise Mitch to honor the great one. It should be called something, like Hedberg-heads or something like that. It’s a crazy fandom that only an obscure niche can have. I remember a few years after his death fans submitted Mitch Hedberg art for a calender that Lynn Shawcroft put together and sold on mitchhedberg.net. I bought one, they were super well done, I still have it. I think a Mitch Hedberg college course could totally be done, and I would pay to take it! They could break down his jokes and dig deeper into his train of thought. That would be really great.
Drug use. I knew Hedberg used to do drugs (still do, but I used to to), but I never really knew the extent of it. I really never wanted to know I guess. All the reading and everything I could get my hands on Mitch related, I just would skip over that. Mainly cause it took him away. I am still saddened he’s gone, he brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. Mitch died March 29th 2005. A few days later it was publicly announced on April 1st. I remember I had a terrible landscaping job and heard the news on the radio. The rest of the day I was so bummed, mowing lawns looking up in the sky and trying to figure out why. I was hoping it was a sick April fool’s joke. We weren’t that lucky.
Los Enchiladas! The Mitch Hedberg film he wrote and directed himself has never been officially released. It’s about slackers working in a mexican restaurant, and stars other comedians like Dave Attell and Todd Barry. I clicked on a scene YouTube had up a few years back, it was only a 5 minute clip, but I couldn’t even watch a minute of it. It didn’t feel right. I am a patient man, I can wait to see this from the beginning and as a whole. Hedberg’s wife, Lynn Shawcroft was a guest on the WTF podcast with Marc Maron this month. She said Los Enchiladas! is working on being released, and that Shout Factory is interested in distributing it. That is going to be great! Finally get to see it, and nice to have a new Hedberg masterpiece.
Maybe in the future the President will be a Mitch Hedberg fan, and we will get a national Hedberg Day. Mitch had some bit parts in a few movies. Almost Famous he was playing poker in the scene where they gambled the roadies. Lords Of Dogtown he was the guy who gave the shop the new poly urethane skateboard wheels. Hedberg was also in the sitcom That 70′s Show for an episode. I never got to see Mitch live, so that will be one of the first things I do if time travel becomes possible.