Mitch Hedberg

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Mitch Hedberg

Hedberg during his Comedy Central Presents special in 1999
Birth nameMitchell Lee Hedberg
Born(1968-02-24)February 24, 1968
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedMarch 29, 2005(2005-03-29) (aged 37)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
MediumStand-up, film
NationalityAmerican
Years active1989–2005
GenresObservational comedy, surreal humor, word play, Non sequitur, One-liner
Subject(s)Recreational drug use, everyday life, American culture, self-deprecation, drinking culture, Food
InfluencesGeorge Carlin, Emo Philips, Jackie Vernon, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Hicks, Cheech and Chong, Bobcat Goldthwait
InfluencedDale Amler, Jon Lajoie, Shmuel Breban, Ryan Maglunob, Mike Birbiglia, Demitri Martin, Aziz Ansari, Jake Hurwitz
SpouseLynn Shawcroft (1999–2005) (his death)
Notable works and rolesStrategic Grill Locations
Mitch All Together
Do You Believe in Gosh?
Websitewww.mitchhedberg.net
 
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Mitch Hedberg

Hedberg during his Comedy Central Presents special in 1999
Birth nameMitchell Lee Hedberg
Born(1968-02-24)February 24, 1968
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedMarch 29, 2005(2005-03-29) (aged 37)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
MediumStand-up, film
NationalityAmerican
Years active1989–2005
GenresObservational comedy, surreal humor, word play, Non sequitur, One-liner
Subject(s)Recreational drug use, everyday life, American culture, self-deprecation, drinking culture, Food
InfluencesGeorge Carlin, Emo Philips, Jackie Vernon, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Hicks, Cheech and Chong, Bobcat Goldthwait
InfluencedDale Amler, Jon Lajoie, Shmuel Breban, Ryan Maglunob, Mike Birbiglia, Demitri Martin, Aziz Ansari, Jake Hurwitz
SpouseLynn Shawcroft (1999–2005) (his death)
Notable works and rolesStrategic Grill Locations
Mitch All Together
Do You Believe in Gosh?
Websitewww.mitchhedberg.net

Mitchell Lee "Mitch" Hedberg (February 24, 1968 – March 29, 2005)[2] was an American stand-up comedian known for his surreal humor and unconventional comedic delivery. His comedy typically featured short, sometimes one-line jokes,[3] 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]

Contents

Early life

Mitch Hedberg was born February 24, 1968, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Swedish immigrants Arne and Mary Hedberg.[7] He graduated from Harding High School in Saint Paul.

Career

Hedberg began his stand-up career in Florida, and after a period of honing his skills moved to Seattle and began to tour. He soon appeared on MTV's Comikaze, followed by a 1996 appearance on Late Show with David Letterman which brought him his big break. He won the 1997 grand prize at the Seattle Comedy Competition. The following year he appeared in one episode of Fox's series That 70's Show.

In 1999 he completed his own independent feature film Los Enchiladas!, which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. He recorded three comedy CDs entitled Strategic Grill Locations, Mitch All Together, and Do You Believe in Gosh?, which was released posthumously. He also appeared at the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival in 1998 and 2001.

Concurrent with his rising fame inside the entertainment industry, Hedberg appeared on Letterman 9 more times, signed a half-million dollar deal with Fox for a television sitcom, and was dubbed "the next "Seinfeld"" by "Time Magazine".[8] George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, and Lewis Black were among his reported comedian fans.[9]

Personal life

Hedberg was married to Canadian comedian Lynn Shawcroft from 1999 until his death in 2005.[10][2]

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.") He was arrested in Austin, Texas in May 2003 for possession of heroin.[1]

Death

On March 29, 2005, Hedberg was found dead in a hotel room in Livingston, New Jersey.[11] He was 37 years old. Hedberg was born with a heart defect for which he received extensive treatment as a child.[1][12] It was initially speculated that this condition may have played a part in his death. The New Jersey medical examiner's office reported "multiple drug toxicity" in the form of cocaine and heroin as the official cause of death.[1]

His death was formally announced on April 1, 2005, leading many to believe it was an April Fool's joke, only to find out later that it was not. His funeral was held at St. Ambrose of Woodbury Church in Minnesota,[13] and his remains were cremated. Details of where his remains are scattered are known only by his family.

Hedberg was interviewed by Jonathan Davis in the December 2001 issue of Penthouse. In the interview, published three years before his death, he was asked "If you could choose, how would you end your life?" His response was "First, I'd want to get famous, and then I'd overdose. If I overdosed at this stage in my career, I would be lucky if it made the back pages."

Style

Hedberg's stand-up comedy was distinguished by the unique manner of speech that he adopted later in his career, his abrupt delivery, and his unusual stage presence. His material depended heavily upon word play, non sequiturs, paraprosdokians, and object observations. His act usually consisted equally of compact one- or two-liners resembling those of Steven Wright, in addition to longer routines, often with each line as a punchline. Many of his jokes were inspired from everyday thoughts or situations.

Because he suffered from 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 or perform with his back to the audience. He would also constantly move in one spot and, when holding the microphone during some bits, his nervousness would cause him to shake it uncontrollably.[14]

Hedberg occasionally added disclaimers to the end of a joke to let the audience know that he shared their judgment of it, most notably acknowledging when jokes were poorly delivered or received with a resigned "all right." He also toyed with audiences that failed to respond in the way he had intended them to, occasionally quipping, "That joke's better than you acted." During recordings for CDs, he would often say that he would find a way to edit a failed gag to make it seem well received, for example by "adding laughter" to a failed joke containing arithmetic. Following such a failure on Strategic Grill Locations, Hedberg 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."[15]

Comedy Central Records announced the release of the first album of new Mitch Hedberg material on June 10, 2008. The album 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.[16]

Discography

Filmography

YearTitleRole
1999Los Enchiladas!Lee
2000Almost FamousEagles Road Manager
2005Lords of DogtownFrank Nasworthy (Urethane Wheels Guy)

TV appearances

YearTitleRole/Info
1998That '70s ShowEpisode 11, as Frank (Chef at the Hub)[18]
Premium BlendEpisode dated May 23, 1998 as Himself
Late Show with David LettermanHimself (2 episodes)
1999Dr. Katz, Professional TherapistEpisode 67 "Past Lives" and Episode 73 "Garden", both as Himself
Comedy Central PresentsHimself
Late Show with David LettermanHimself (2 episodes)
Home MoviesEpisodes 104 and 105 as The Pet Eulogist and Mitch, respectively
2000Late Show with David LettermanHimself
2001EdEpisode 110 as Dave
Just for Laughs in MontrealHimself
Late FridayHimself
Home MoviesEpisodes 112 and 113 as Cop and Dr. Fizzel (Anger Management Counselor), respectively
Late Show with David LettermanHimself (2 episodes)
2002Saddle RashVarious voices
Late Show with David LettermanHimself
2003Late Show with David LettermanHimself
Late Night with Conan O'BrienHimself
Crank YankersHimself
2004Shorties Watchin' ShortiesEpisodes 4 and 9 as Himself
Late Night with Conan O'BrienHimself

References

  1. ^ a b c d The Associated Press (2005-12-27). "Report: Mitch Hedberg died of drug overdose". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10619222/. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  2. ^ a b Soylent Communications. "Mitch Hedberg". http://www.nndb.com/people/816/000093537/. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  3. ^ Comedy Central. "Mitch Hedberg". http://www.comedycentral.com/comedians/browse/h/mitch_hedberg.jhtml?display=bio. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  4. ^ News Services (April 4, 2005). "Mitch Hedberg, 37, Dies; Offbeat Stand-Up Comedian". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23956-2005Apr3.html. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  5. ^ Kolowich, Steve. "Cult comedian Mitch Hedberg dies on tour". http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2005-04-01&section=4&id=1. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  6. ^ Fierman, Daniel (July 8, 2005). "Comic Tragedy". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1080613,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  7. ^ MitchHedberg.net. "To All of Mitch's Fans". Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. http://web.archive.org/web/20071028064531/http://www.mitchhedberg.net/notes.html. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  8. ^ Anderson, Sam. "Last Laugh". The Slate Group. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2005/05/last_laugh.html. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  9. ^ Fireman, Daniel. "Comic Tragedy". Entertainment Weekly Inc.. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1080613,00.html. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  10. ^ Murray, Noel. "Interviews: Mitch Hedberg". http://www.avclub.com/content/node/23154. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  11. ^ The Washington Post (April 4, 2005). "Report: Mitch Hedberg, 37, Dies; Offbeat Stand-Up Comedian". http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23956-2005Apr3.html. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  12. ^ Rice, Ian. "Comedian Mitch Hedberg Dies at 37". http://www.sbindependent.org/node/314. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  13. ^ "Mitch L. Hedberg Obituary: View Mitch Hedberg's Obituary by Star Tribune". Legacy.com. 2005-03-30. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?n=mitch-l-hedberg&pid=3372277. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
  14. ^ Gonzales, Matt. "Mitch Hedberg + Stephen Lynch". http://www.popmatters.com/music/concerts/h/hedberg-mitch-041119.shtml. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  15. ^ Mitch Hedberg: Strategic Grill Locations
  16. ^ Do you believe in Gosh? liner notes, Lynn Shawcroft, 2008
  17. ^ "COMEDY CENTRAL Records(R) to Release New Mitch Hedberg CD 'Do You Believe in Gosh?'". Reuters. July 14, 2008. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS167641+14-Jul-2008+PRN20080714.
  18. ^ "That '70s Show Season 1, Episode 11, Eric's Buddy" at the Internet Movie Database

External links