The late Mitch Hedberg was a comedy hurricane of simple observations and stream-of-conscious delivery. He might never have been a household name but the people who knew of him, fucking loved him. They are all quoting him right now.
Just The Facts
If Kurt Cobain were balls out funny, he'd be Mitch Hedberg.
If Demetri Martin or Steven Wright were mytholized bad asses instead of nerds, they'd be Mitch Hedberg.
If Jesus were a little kinder and gentler, he'd be Mitch Hedberg.
All these people, even if they were Mitch Hedberg, would still not be as funny as Mitch Hedberg. (although prayers are said every night that a Jesus Mitch Hedberg will rise from the dead and be seated at the right hand of George Carlin.)
His Impact on Comedy and You
This video shows Mitch Hedberg in his prime. It's also a rare non-sunglasses appearance. He has pretty eyes doesn't he?
But aside from his dreamy brown eyes, Mitch Hedberg connected so many wonderfully random and silly observations into his relatively short collected works that there is literally no situation that could not allow for a Mitch Hedberg joke. Try it. Someone will make a Mitch Hedberg impersonation - happy chuckles and head-nodding approval will follow.
He's our generation's Mark Twain (without all the pointless plots and stories of rural Missouri), and his quotes will be the jumping off point for aspiring comedy writers and high school rhetoric papers for years to come. (See koalas, kit kats.)
While his is a career that will always feel unfulfilled (see Tragic below), the recorded comedy specials and his three completed comedy albums are must-haves. Every unexpected turn of phrase and change of topic will always keep you laughing despite it being the 700th time you've heard the same joke. It's all in the nervous, rambling delivery that only Mitch could accomplish.
In what should have been the start of a brilliant career in film and television, Mitch had small parts in Almost Famoust, Lords of Dogtown, and "That 70s Show." He also wrote, directed and starred in his own indie film, Los Enchiladas. He lent his voice to animated features most notably "Dr. Katz."
And even more notably, he was also in motherfucking "Home Movies." Which is, arguably the funniest Adult Swim vehicle ever.
The Parts of the Story That'll Make You Sad
Aside from the fact that he's dead, which is already pretty fucking sad, Mitch had a tough career going through.
Some reports (Wikipedia) state that he may have suffered from an intense fear of public speaking and that prompted him to wear his sunglasses on stage and often perform with his eyes closed. His wife refuted this claim, but archive footage at the very least shows a pretty nervous guy at times.
He also struggled with a continuous drug habit, that was a part of his act as much as it was his life. It was this honesty in his act and public life that made him feel like such a genuine figure. Later in his life he spoke publicly about kicking his addictions or managing them. As seen in one of his final recorded interviews, Mitch tells Howard Stern how shitty's it's been trying to "make it" in Hollywood and a struggle to attain a success that seemed to elude him.
He died from "multiple drug toxicity" on March 29, 2005 and the world laughed no more.
(Is that too heavy? It is isn't it? Don't worry, we laughed again. We just didn't really mean it as much.)
The Happy Parts
But we're not here to lament the tragic passing of our comedy friend but to celebrate the beautiful joke machine that was Mitch Hedberg.
And most endearing is the universal love he got from his fans and family. For just about the most heartwarming words ever, see this excerpt from his adorable wife's and fellow commediane, Lynn Shawcroft, post from his tribute Web site.
"I also see that a lot of his fans, you, feel just about the same way. We all desperately miss Mitch. A guy who was brilliant, gentle and so special. I can't believe that he is gone. No more shows, no more adventures. Just sweet memories of someone who did his own thing. Someone who really loved life. I want your all to know that about him.
Everything around me is touched by him. How often do you find that moments and situations will draw you to one of his jokes? I hear his voice in my mind and he never stops inspiring me."
This fan tribute is less heartwarming and more unintentionally hilarious. But in a good way. Don't be a fucking robot. Just listen and have yourself a good cry, dammit.
Here's a better one. Because we both know, you're not done crying.