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Comedian Mitch Hedberg dead at 37
TwinCities.com ^ | March 31, 2005 | Matt Peiken, Pioneer Press

Posted on 03/31/2005 11:38:25 AM PST by Constitution Day

Comedian Mitch Hedberg dead at 37

BY MATT PEIKEN
Pioneer Press

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.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Minnesota
KEYWORDS: belushicide; drugskill; genx; mitchhedberg; wodlist
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Mitch Hedberg quotes

Aug. 18, 1998: What's so funny, young man?

1 posted on 03/31/2005 11:38:25 AM PST by Constitution Day
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Judging from what I've read on other sites, it was probably drugs.

I'm not surprised, but I did like his stuff.


2 posted on 03/31/2005 11:39:14 AM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Constitution Day

Who?


3 posted on 03/31/2005 11:39:39 AM PST by big'ol_freeper (World Series Champion Boston Red Sox!! Has a nice ring to it.)
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To: Constitution Day

4 posted on 03/31/2005 11:39:55 AM PST by Bluegrass Conservative
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To: Constitution Day

He was very funny. RIP Mitch.


5 posted on 03/31/2005 11:39:58 AM PST by conserv13
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To: big'ol_freeper

Read the article and find out.
Thanks for bumping my thread, though.


6 posted on 03/31/2005 11:40:18 AM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Constitution Day

Oh, man. I liked this guy. I have his very last CD and stadup DVD. :(


7 posted on 03/31/2005 11:41:01 AM PST by TheBigB ("She's the kind of girl you bring home to Mother... if Mother is a cigaretty, retired hooker.")
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To: Bluegrass Conservative

From Comedy Central
http://www.comedycentral.com/standup/central/detail.jhtml?p=/comedians/h/mitch_hedberg.xml

Mitch Hedberg
BIO

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.


8 posted on 03/31/2005 11:41:19 AM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Constitution Day

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.


9 posted on 03/31/2005 11:42:11 AM PST by conserv13
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To: TheBigB
I have the CD but not the DVD.
Hat tip: I first read this story on Blogcritics.org, but I wanted to wait till an actual news site picked it up.
I thought it was a tasteless (and early) April Fools' Day hoax at first.

Links from Blogcritics:

Mitch Hedberg 1968 - 2005
Comedian Mitch Hedberg dead

10 posted on 03/31/2005 11:44:27 AM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Constitution Day

I loved his broken escalator line.
RIP


11 posted on 03/31/2005 11:44:41 AM PST by SmithL (Proud Submariner)
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To: Constitution Day
I liked him too. Netscape Radio has a comedy channel, and they often have clips of his act on there.

One of his jokes was something like:

This shirt has a tag that says "Dry Clean Only"... that means it's dirty.

12 posted on 03/31/2005 11:47:13 AM PST by Mannaggia l'America
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To: Constitution Day
Thanks for the laughs, Mitch.

"I was going to get my teeth whitened, but I said screw that, I'll just get a tan instead."

13 posted on 03/31/2005 11:50:34 AM PST by two134711
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To: SmithL

I loved his broken escalator line.

Well..................


14 posted on 03/31/2005 11:51:54 AM PST by Primetimedonna
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To: Primetimedonna

"Escalators can never break. They just become stairs."


15 posted on 03/31/2005 11:53:15 AM PST by TheBigB ("She's the kind of girl you bring home to Mother... if Mother is a cigaretty, retired hooker.")
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To: Primetimedonna

I love escalators.

They can never break.









They just become stairs.


16 posted on 03/31/2005 11:56:22 AM PST by SmithL (Proud Submariner)
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To: Constitution Day

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.


17 posted on 03/31/2005 12:00:22 PM PST by Voss
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To: Constitution Day

Really sad. This guy was tremendously funny. I always imagined him in front of a bunch of beatniks in a 1950s-era coffee house.


18 posted on 03/31/2005 12:01:47 PM PST by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: Constitution Day

Never heard of him until today.


19 posted on 03/31/2005 12:05:09 PM PST by KStorm (Now we're no better than thug dictatorships who kill those who don't oppose them.)
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To: Voss
He had the ability to be funny without resorting to low or vulgar humor.

That was one of the top reasons I liked him.

His style was also very deadpan, similar to Steven Wright.

20 posted on 03/31/2005 12:05:52 PM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: All
The thing about tennis is no matter how much you practice you'll never be as good as a wall. Ever play a wall? They're f***ing relentless!

R.I.P. Mitch
21 posted on 03/31/2005 12:06:23 PM PST by Borges
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To: Constitution Day

I was just going to say, it sounded like he basically regurgitated old Steven Wright material.


22 posted on 03/31/2005 12:06:36 PM PST by dfwgator (It's sad that the news media treats Michael Jackson better than our military.)
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To: dfwgator

Not exactly.


23 posted on 03/31/2005 12:07:01 PM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Petronski; cyborg

Ping. What a shame, and so young. I laugh thinking of his 'receipt for a donut' bit. Very funny.


24 posted on 03/31/2005 12:07:17 PM PST by fortunecookie
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To: fortunecookie
"I'll give you the money, you give me a doughnut. We don't need to bring ink and paper into this."
25 posted on 03/31/2005 12:08:57 PM PST by TheBigB ("She's the kind of girl you bring home to Mother... if Mother is a cigaretty, retired hooker.")
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To: Constitution Day

He was very funny, him and Eddie Izzard, are/were the funiest stand-up's working today.


26 posted on 03/31/2005 12:12:01 PM PST by A Texan (Oderint dum metuant)
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To: dfwgator

You can say that about all observational humorists.


27 posted on 03/31/2005 12:12:19 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative (...He had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here...-- Worst.President.Ever.)
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To: TheBigB

LOLOL!! I can just hear Mitch's voice.


28 posted on 03/31/2005 12:12:38 PM PST by fortunecookie
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To: Constitution Day
Read the article and find out.

No kidding. One thing I've never understood about this forum is the almost inevitable reaction to obituaries. It's like clockwork. Someone pops up with a comment like "I've never heard of him," or "Who?", or "I thought he died years ago." Almost like they're proud of their ignorance. Very strange.

Mr. Hedberg, no doubt, wasn't the most important person on this planet. I'm sure lots of people hadn't heard of him. But why would they brag about it?

29 posted on 03/31/2005 12:15:14 PM PST by southernnorthcarolina (UNC: 16 Final Fours)
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To: fortunecookie

How about, "Wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy. All day." :o)


30 posted on 03/31/2005 12:15:19 PM PST by TheBigB ("She's the kind of girl you bring home to Mother... if Mother is a cigaretty, retired hooker.")
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To: Constitution Day

My kids LOVE this guy, especially my daughter. She is going to be crushed. He was pretty funny.


31 posted on 03/31/2005 12:18:20 PM PST by Trust but Verify (Pull up a chair and watch history being made.)
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To: Trust but Verify

That's too bad. he was really funny. And young. He had some life ahead of him.


32 posted on 03/31/2005 12:22:06 PM PST by AdamWilliams
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To: Constitution Day

I love comedy.
He was one of my favorites.
Sad to see him go out that young.


33 posted on 03/31/2005 12:25:16 PM PST by BlueNgold (Feed the Tree .....)
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To: SmithL

You're right....it is a good one....thanks for sharing!


34 posted on 03/31/2005 12:39:51 PM PST by Primetimedonna
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To: Constitution Day
"Alcoholism is a disease but it's the only one you get yelled at for having."
-Mitch Hedberg
35 posted on 03/31/2005 12:41:15 PM PST by nonliberal (Graduate: Curtis E. LeMay School of International Relations)
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To: Constitution Day

I love the guy's comedy. One of the last originals.


36 posted on 03/31/2005 12:43:52 PM PST by Wolfie
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To: southernnorthcarolina

Well said, SNC.
I think I'm guilty of having done that once or twice, some years back, but I stopped when I realized how annoying it was.


37 posted on 03/31/2005 12:47:48 PM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: TheBigB

I'd forgotten that one! I'm LOL, I wore turtlenecks all week. I needed a laugh!


38 posted on 03/31/2005 12:52:11 PM PST by fortunecookie
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To: Constitution Day

I really hope this is the ultimate April Fools' joke...


39 posted on 03/31/2005 12:58:35 PM PST by BJClinton ("Alcoholism is a disease but it's the only one you get yelled at for having.")
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To: BJClinton

That's what I thought too, when Howard Stern and some blogs were the only ones reporting it.

Now MTV, Comedy Central and the "real" news sites have it too:

Comedian Mitch Hedberg Found Dead In New Jersey Hotel Room
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1499352/20050331/hedberg_mitch.jhtml


40 posted on 03/31/2005 1:00:45 PM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: Constitution Day

OH NO!


That's horrible. He was very talented and funny, and the comedy was clean.


41 posted on 03/31/2005 1:02:10 PM PST by Petronski (Choose life.)
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To: Constitution Day

This has been a very sh**ty day.


42 posted on 03/31/2005 1:02:43 PM PST by Petronski (Choose life.)
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To: Petronski

Yes it has, my friend.


43 posted on 03/31/2005 1:03:03 PM PST by Constitution Day ("If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.")
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To: TheBigB; fortunecookie
"Wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy. All day."

Never wear a turtleneck AND a backpack. It's like a midget is trying to tackle you all day long.

44 posted on 03/31/2005 1:05:57 PM PST by Petronski (Choose life.)
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To: GeneralStorm
Never heard of him until today.

Me neither. And I still respect him more than any politician. We can assume he was more useful, too.

45 posted on 03/31/2005 1:08:56 PM PST by Hank Rearden (Never allow anyone who could only get a government job attempt to tell you how to run your life.)
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To: BJClinton
I really hope this is the ultimate April Fools' joke...

That's what I was thinking.

Just so I'm on the record for thinking that... if it is a joke, put me in the "I told ya" column.

46 posted on 03/31/2005 1:10:47 PM PST by Mannaggia l'America
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To: fortunecookie
LOLOL!! I can just hear Mitch's voice.

Yeah, me too.

I always crack up when I think about him telling the joke about the Dufranes.

When you go a resturant on the weekends and it's busy so they start a waiting list. They say Dufrane, party of two, table ready for Dufrane, party of two , and if no one answers the'll say the name again, Dufrane, party of two. Bu then if no one answers, they'll move on to the next name. Bush party of three. Yeah, but what happened to the Dufranes, No one seems to care, who can eat at a time like this? People are missing. You people are selfish. The Dufranes are in someone's trunk right now,with duct tape over their mouths and they're hungry. That's a double whammy! We need help! Bush search aparty of three. You can eat once you find the Dufranes.

47 posted on 03/31/2005 1:13:21 PM PST by JURB
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To: Petronski; fortunecookie; Constitution Day
"Last week I helped my friend stay put. It's a lot easier than helping someone move. I just went over to his house and made sure that he did not start to load sh*t into a truck."

"My lucky number is four billion. That doesn't come in real handy when you're gambling. "Come on, four billion! F**k. Seven. Not even close. I need more dice."

48 posted on 03/31/2005 1:14:50 PM PST by TheBigB ("She's the kind of girl you bring home to Mother... if Mother is a cigaretty, retired hooker.")
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To: JURB

He was in town last Friday. I wanted to see him, but both of his shows sold out.


49 posted on 03/31/2005 1:18:52 PM PST by VA_Gentleman
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To: TheBigB

WORKING FROM MEMORY:


"I was standing in the back of a crowded nightclub when the bouncer said I had to move because I was blocking a fire exit. I told him 'If there's a fire, I'll move.' Pretty much anyone who has legs and is flammable is gonna run from a fire."


50 posted on 03/31/2005 1:19:44 PM PST by Petronski (Choose life.)
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