Friday, April 01, 2005

Nuage: Mitch Hedberg, 1968-2005

I was distraught to pick up the newspaper from the driveway this morning and see an obituary for one of my favorite comedians, Mitch Hedberg. Heart attack. He was only 37. You may not know the name, but you've seen him at one time or another. He had a spaced-out delivery, like Stephen Wright on acapulco gold. He was so shy that he almost couldn't face the audience. In his early years, he'd stare straight down at his feet while delivering his bit, his long hair dangling in his face as though to further hide from the crowd. You just wanted to run up onstage and give him a hug. In later years, he was able to finally look up and out among the seats, but he still wore darkly-tinted glasses, as though if he couldn't see the audience well they couldn't see too deeply into him.

He hailed from St Paul, MN, as was well known and loved on the local comedy circuit. He has a new album out, "All Together Now". I'll pick it up and put it alongside his previous album, "Strategic Grill Locations". Comedians don't make a lot of money doing the tour thing, and Mitch leaves behind a family way too soon. I'm sure they can use all the financial help they can get. Buy one of his CDs--even if you don't always get the jokes--and remember that for every Bill Cosby and Rodney Dangerfield and George Carlin, there's a Sam Kinison, a Lenny Bruce, a Chris Farley, and a Mitch Hedberg: guys who never made it beyond the initial promising arc of their career and left us with one less reason to laugh.

Last year, the St Paul Pioneer Press ran an interview with him (alas, unarchived) in which he discussed his troubles with drug abuse and how he'd finally kicked the nastier habits and was putting his life back together. Isn't that a familiar story? Troubled entertainer straightens out only to die unexpectedly. I guess the moral of this story is, don't clean up your act or you're gonna die. Pass the acapulco gold.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sad to hear that Mitch has died. Though, I didn't know him I felt a slight connection to him as a person. I saw him on stage and felt so interested in the way he speaks and what he has to say. I would have loved to see him go on with comedy, but everything happens for a reason so R.I.P Mitch Hedberg...

6:22 PM  
Blogger Shirley said...

I'm going to miss Mitch bigtime.
Though he was a lot younger than I am, he reminds me of so many guys I knew in the late 60's and 70's.
Slightly skewed, bright, sweet natured, still hopeful. refusing to throw in with the humorless mothers who are still running the planet.
Ave adque vale, little brother.
You've reminded me once again to cherish the ones I love while I can. Only wish I'd contacted you on your website to tell you how I enjoyed your stuff.

3:52 PM  
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