Mitch Hedberg Was A Genius

Mitch Hedberg

Horrible news today. Mitch Hedberg has passed away. Many of you probably have no idea who Mitch Hedberg is, so I’ll tell you. He was a comic genius. And I don’t say that lightly.

I first saw Mitch perform on a late night Comedy Central one-man stand-up show. He was so funny that I told myself to remember his name. One of his jokes had me laughing so hard that I had no choice but to memorize it as well. Fast-forward two or three years and MR and I are in Washington D.C. walking past the Improv and I see that Mitch Hedberg is performing that weekend! I immediately wet myself and set upon convincing MR that we must, at all costs, make it to the show to see Mitch live. My interest, of course, unfailingly means that MR must dash to the nearest phone booth to assume his alter-ego Uncle Fuddyduddy. He starts pissing and moaning about how going to the show will throw our itinerary/spreadsheet off by a few hours. I tell him that he and his money belt can count me out of anything on the agenda anyway as I will go to the show with or without him. With the gauntlet having been thrown down, MR concedes to go to the show but promises “on the record” that I will endure nothing but elbows in the sternum for the rest of the trip if Mitch Hedberg doesn’t deliver.

We sat in the front row of the comedy club at a table with a lone Mitch fan from the Baltimore area. After the three of us suffered through some talentless openers (and I endured MR’s hackneyed routine of blaming me for their incompetence), Mitch took to the stage. He blazed through an hour of one-liners, quirky observational humor, and a half-dozen whisky sours. When he’s on stage, Mitch hides behind sunglasses, never looks up at the audience, but instead times every joke off the level of laughter in the audience. He is the only comedian I’ve ever seen that you had to see in person to really get the joke. His voice, his delivery, his absurdity completely overtook me and I laughed so hard at things I never could have thought up. I became a true Mitch Hedberg fan that night, but even more shocking, so did MR.

I’ve since had the pleasure of seeing Mitch perform three other times. I could hear the same jokes and laugh just as hard. That is an unheard of rarity for me. But what made me an even bigger fan was that I could take anyone to see Mitch and I knew they would laugh themselves hoarse. His sense of humor was completely unique but didn’t rely on shocking, offending, or belittling anyone or anything. He took comedy to it’s most basic and genuine level. I honor that and aspire to it.

So, to you Mitch, I say thank you. I wish I’d been able to tell you this stuff in person one day. But maybe somebody will read this and search out your humor and be inspired like I was.

I’ll leave you with a few of the many hilarious jokes written by Mitch Hedberg:

I was in Downtown Boise, Idaho, and I saw a duck, and I knew the duck was lost, ‘cuz ducks ain’t s’posed to be downtown. There’s nothin’ for ’em there. So I went to a Subway sandwich shop, I said, “Let me have a bun.” But she wouldn’t sell me just the bun, she said that I had to have something on it. She told me it’s against regulations for Subway to sell just the bun. I guess the two halves ain’t supposed to touch. So I said, “Alright, well, put some lettuce on it,” which she did. She said, “That’ll be $1.75.” I said, “It’s for a duck.” And they said, “Alright, well, that is free.” See, I did not know that. Ducks eat for free at Subway! Had I known that, I would have ordered a much larger sandwich. “Let me have the Steak Fajita Sub – but don’t bother ringing it up, it’s for a duck!

I had a bag of Fritos, they were Texas grilled Fritos. These Fritos had grill marks on them. Hell yeah, reminds me of summer time, when we used to fire up the barbeque and throw down some Fritos. I can still see my dad with the apron on, better flip that Frito, dad, you know how I like mine.

The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how much I play, I’ll never be as good as a wall. I played a wall once. They’re fucking relentless.

Read more jokes by Mitch Hedberg…

or listen to a few clips here.

8 thoughts on “Mitch Hedberg Was A Genius”

  1. That is a terrible tragedy, I have seen Mitch on late night comedy central many times. He was a one of kind comedian. DA I think you should pick up his torch and start touring.

  2. One thing that DA neglected to mention… the origin of the “Paparazzi Move.” Dave crafted this move shortly after wetting himself. You see, it wasn’t enough to see Mitch Hedberg live on stage. Nope, he needed a way to capture the moment for posterity. He wanted something tangible he could look back on years later to remind him of the great times he had as an audience member. So, he decided he would secretly photograph Mitch during his act.

    Here’s how it plays out… First, it’s imperative that he sits in the front row. This gives him a “clear shot” at his subject matter. We accomplished this feat by showing up a good two hours early to the show (this act alone obliterated the “DC nightlife” tab on my vacation spreadsheet.) Second, throughout the show, Dave gives the illusion of being a mild-mannered member of the audience while in the comedian’s direct line of sight. As soon as the comedian faces another portion of the audience, Dave discreetly reaches an arm up and snaps a flash photo of him with a disposable camera at close range. This is done to capture a candid shot of the comedian in his natural environment.

    Of course, the Paparazzi Move also draws the annoyed glares of other audience members trying to isolate the source of the distraction. When people around us look over their shoulder with angry expressions, I invoke my signature move, “The Two-Handed Point at Dave While I Mouth the Words “It Was HIM.” Dave is oblivious to all of this, as he’s busy advancing the film for his next potential shot.

    The worst part of this is that comedy clubs are usually pretty dark, except for a few spotlights. Whether it was the lighting issues, the rushed action or simply bad luck… the pictures didn’t turn out. Dave was crushed. If it weren’t for the few strands of Mitch’s hair he gathered off the stage, the evening would have been a real letdown…

    And just so you know, The Paparazzi Move didn’t die that day. It made another regrettable appearance the time we went to see Dustin Diamond (Screech) perform on stage…

    Finally, looking back, knowing what I know today, maybe I should have tried taking a picture too. Mitch Hedberg will be greatly missed.

  3. Dave, that was heartfelt tribute to Mitch! Jeannette and I were in a situation this weekend in a karokee bar where a patron was being heckled for saying some nice words about Mitch. I threw her a look that I swear if I was a comic book character would have been lightening bolts through her chest! I do what I can in the name of stellar comedy. As do you.

  4. “His sense of humor was completely unique but didn’t rely on shocking, offending, or belittling anyone or anything. He took comedy to it’s most basic and genuine level. I honor that and aspire to it.”

    Thankyou for writing this – I personally only got into Mitch from a random mp3 download one day a few months ago, then proceeded to get any sets I could of him (I can’t afford CDs) and it was only a short while later that I found out he had passed away :((( But these words you have written do describe him well and I now have somewhere to point Mitch virgins when they wonder what’s so great about him. Thanks again. :)

  5. Mitch i am sorry it took me so long to post this, but its here. Mitch had a completely differtent approach to hummor. It was smart and sometimes a little wierd, but none the less it was all hallarious. Mitch Hedburg was a kick ass individual and will always be missed.

    “P.S. this is what the alphabet would look like without the letters Q and R”-Mitch hedburg

    R.I.P. Mitch Hedburg you will always be remembered

  6. Ditto as above — I only discovered yesterday of his passing and am stunned. Guess his death was overshadowed by Schiavo, Cochran, and some old dude in Europe wearing a pointy hat. That’s the only thing he ever did with bad timing. I was just recently beginning to wonder why I hadn’t heard about him lately…

    Of course first saw him on Comedy Central (thankfully before our cable got cut) and he was instantly appealing. It wasn’t just the jokes themselves, it was his delivery. Saw him live twice in S.F., once in a small club where he was very giggly and asked the audience for joke requests, and once in a large theater opening for Lewis Black and Dave Attell’s tour. Although his set went well, he appeared lost and out-of-sorts on the big stage. It was Oct. 2003, probably just after he started performing again following his heroin bust and six-month seclusion.

    By the way I surreptitiously shot photos at the theater performance, but I was up in the balcony and too far away for the pix to be any good with my tiny point-and-shoot. So, his image remains elusive to us all!

    Damn, what is it with these gifted comedians and early deaths?

  7. I started to enjoy Mitch’s unique brand of comedy a few years back. I only just found out that he had died as news travels slowly to Australia. I must say that I’m sad just thinking about all the hilarious moments that will now never be. All the jokes & musings on life that will remain in the ether forever. Here’s to the laughs we might have had Mitch! I’m gonna miss ya buddy, even though I never knew you personally. I hope your keeping god in stitches mate!

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