Skip to comments.Comedian Mitch Hedberg dead at 37
Posted on 03/31/2005 11:38:25 AM PST by Constitution Day
Comedian Mitch Hedberg dead at 37
BY MATT PEIKEN
Even family and close friends had a hard time understanding Mitch Hedberg, a St. Paul native who ran away from home and, despite living a scattershot life, became a runaway success as a standup comic.
Hedberg, whose space-case persona was as much part of his soul as it was his act, died early Wednesday morning in a New Jersey hotel room. He was 37. A medical examiner hasn't issued findings, but Hedberg's family is told he suffered a heart attack. His wife was with him.
After graduating St. Paul's Harding High School, Hedberg rose through the ranks at Minneapolis' Acme Comedy Co., and caught his big break through a Comedy Central special. He made several appearances on David Letterman's and Conan O'Brien's shows, made more Comedy Central appearances and produced two comedy CDs. His big dream, to have an HBO comedy special, was in the works.
Hedberg's one-liners, dished off in a spacy staccato, were based on absurdist, random observations. His long, dirty blond hair harkened to the image of a 1970s stoner, and his success occurred in light of, in spite of and even because of his quarter-century affair with drugs and alcohol.
"I'd probably be living in Costa Rica, eating oranges on the beach, if I wasn't doing comedy," he told the Pioneer Press last September.
"There's no two ways about having a son in entertainment industry is challenging," his mother, Mary Hedberg, said Thursday.
She recalls being at work when her oldest daughter called in a panic to tell her Mitch had packed some brown paper bags and left home. Mary Hedberg couldn't get home in time to either see him off or talk him out of it.
"That was heartbreaking for us, but he kept in contact with us. He called as soon as the car broke down," she said. "You know, it was like putting him through college, even though he wasn't at college. But when he got his first break, we were just so thrilled for him, because we wanted him to know he was O.K., and to have that self-confidence that he could do what he wanted to do."
Louis Lee, owner of the Acme, said Hedberg not only became the Twin Cities' first breakout comedian of the 1990s but, along with Lewis Black, helped shape a national resurgence in standup comedy.
"It's very difficult for one-liner comedians to get an audience going, but when Mitch worked here, you could see the kids call out the punchline," Lee said. "Mitch made the whole comedy community realize how important good writing is. It's a huge loss."
Unlike many comics, Hedberg was demonstrably thankful to his fans. Not long ago, a group of college students in Florida, speaking with Hedberg backstage after a show, mentioned how hot their dorm room was. Hedberg surprised them the next morning by showing up to their dorm with a new air conditioner.
"Mitch presented a lot of challenges, but a lot of opportunities for traveling that we wouldn't have otherwise had, and he had a heart of gold," his mother said. "He was a brilliant comic and a wonderful person."
Dates haven't been set, but eventual visitation and services will be at Wulff Family Services, Woodlane Mortuary, in Woodbury.
Judging from what I've read on other sites, it was probably drugs.
I'm not surprised, but I did like his stuff.
He was very funny. RIP Mitch.
Read the article and find out.
Thanks for bumping my thread, though.
Oh, man. I liked this guy. I have his very last CD and stadup DVD. :(
From Comedy Central
Tragically, Mitch Hedberg passed away this week. Mitch was a beloved member of the Comedy Central family, and we join fans in our sadness. He will be missed.
Born and raised in the St. Paul area, Mitch Hedberg decided to start his own comedy career in South Florida. Not so much for the comedy scene, but for the sun. His landlord would drive him up and down the coast from club to club in his pick-up truck where Mitch would lie down in the back to avoid any of the negative conversations his landlord would try to have with him.
Mitch developed his style in Florida and decided to try it out on different audiences. He moved to Seattle and toured throughout the Pacific Northwest honing his act in front of the new audiences. While in Los Angeles, Mitch booked his first television appearance on MTV's "Comikaze" by walking into the MTV offices and personally pitching himself to the talent coordinator. Many cable shows followed including A&E's "Comedy on the Road", Comedy Central's "Comedy Product", and NBC's "Comedy Showcase" hosted by Louie Anderson.
In 1996, Mitch got his break with an invitation to perform at the prestigious Just for Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival. His performances secured him a deal with a studio and a spot on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Letterman enjoyed the set so much that he actually quoted one of Mitch's bits later in the show.
With the money from his development deal, Mitch wrote, directed and stars in his own independent feature called "Los Enchiladas!" which premiered at Sundance. His film is a comedy about a drifter who gets a job at a Mexican chain restaurant in middle America, the relationships between the restaurant employees, and the deterioration of the business' hierarchy over a 24-hour period. While editing the film in Seattle, Mitch entered the 1997 Seattle Comedy Competition and won the grand prize of three thousand dollars. He immediately handed the check over to his editor and finished the film.
On February 5, 1999 Mitch made his fifth appearance on "The Late Night Show with David Letterman." Last July he was invited to return to the comedy festival "Just for Laughs" where he stole the attention of the industry, audiences, and press alike. His stand-out performances secured a development deal with FOX to create his own sitcom and prompted TIME magazine to include him as one of the next generation of comedy stars and The Hollywood Reporter to headline their review of the Festival, "Laughs are Loudest for Hedberg." Mitch also recently completed a reality show pilot for MTV.
Mitch passed away in March, 2005.
I had a stick of Carefree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality.
Links from Blogcritics:
I loved his broken escalator line.
One of his jokes was something like:
This shirt has a tag that says "Dry Clean Only"... that means it's dirty.
"I was going to get my teeth whitened, but I said screw that, I'll just get a tan instead."
I loved his broken escalator line.
"Escalators can never break. They just become stairs."
I love escalators.
They can never break.
They just become stairs.
Wow, I just moved his DVD up toward the top of my Netflix list yesterday. Man, that is sad. He also did great voice work in an episode or two of "Home Movies" and the sole episode of "Saddle Rash" (along with Waylon Jennings) that aired on the Cartoon Channel's Adult Swim. He had the ability to be funny without resorting to low or vulgar humor.
Really sad. This guy was tremendously funny. I always imagined him in front of a bunch of beatniks in a 1950s-era coffee house.
Never heard of him until today.
That was one of the top reasons I liked him.
His style was also very deadpan, similar to Steven Wright.