Who is Mitch Hedberg?
Mitchell Lee Hedberg (February 24, 1968 – March 29, 2005) was an American stand-up comedian known for his surreal humor and deadpan delivery. His comedy typically featured short, sometimes one-line jokes mixed with absurd elements and non sequiturs.
Hedberg’s comedy and onstage persona gained him a cult following, with audience members sometimes shouting out the punchlines to his jokes before he could finish them. Hedberg died of an accidental multiple-drug overdose in 2005.
Hedberg’s standup comedy was distinguished by the unique manner of speech he adopted later in his career, his abrupt delivery, and his unusual stage presence. His material was based on wordplay, non sequiturs, paraprosdokians, and object observations. His act usually consisted equally of compact one- or two-liners and longer routines, often with each line as a punchline. Many of his jokes were inspired by everyday thoughts or situations. Comedian Demetri Martin‘s style has been compared to Hedberg’s.
Hedberg suffered from stage fright throughout his career; he often performed in sunglasses, with his head down and his hair in his face or his eyes closed, and sometimes stood upstage or with his back to the audience, constantly moving in place. At times, he nervously shook his microphone unawares.
Hedberg occasionally added disclaimers to the end of a joke if it was not sufficiently well received, frequently variations on “that joke’s dumb, I’m aware of that.” 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.”
Comedy Central Records released an album, Do You Believe in Gosh? on September 9, 2008, that contained material Hedberg recorded at The Improv in Ontario, California in January 2005. His wife, Lynn, wrote in the introduction that the performance had been in preparation for a year-end CD recording
Here’s a clip of his very funny standup routine. A few curse words probably make this not safe for work: