Mitch Hedberg (February 24,
2005) was an American stand-up
comedian known for his odd subject matter, subdued delivery and memorable
routines that often consisted of a string of one-line non sequiturs.
Mitch Hedberg was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was the son of Swedish emigrants
Arne and Mary Hedberg.
Mitch Hedberg began his career playing open microphone nights in south Florida. Two years later, in 1991, he moved to Seattle and began doing the same there, where his popularity increased. It took him more than a few years to come up with a good deal of material, and he also needed to conquer his stage fright, which was so intense it left a mark on him all through his career (he would sometimes perform with his eyes closed.) He first began achieving national exposure with a special on Comedy Central. Hedberg appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman 10 times, and became one of the show's most successful American comedians. His on-stage persona, though slightly nervous, was always quite endearing and he would happily joke with the audience if they hadn't reacted particularly well to a joke (see unedited version of his Comedy Central Special). What was also likeable was his happiness to criticise his own weaker jokes, 'that joke was just a carbon copy of the last joke'. His jokes ranged from compact one or two liners ("I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.") to slightly longer material in which he would take everyday ideas or situations and pick out certain aspects of them to make them seem hilarious (the Dufrenes joke is a very good example of this) As well as the fact that he loved telling this sort of joke that made everyday situations seem hilarious. Mitch also was a 3 time performer at the Montreal Just for Laughs festival.
Mitch Hedberg was known to be a drug user. In May 2003 he was arrested in Austin, Texas for possession of heroin. In 2004, Hedberg's drug use seemed to spiral out of control. At a performance in Phoenix, Arizona on September 23, Hedberg appeared on stage intoxicated, nearly collapsed and asked the audience for drugs, which he then ingested in front of the crowd. At several other performances he openly asked the audience for "any drugs" they might have, including Xanax and other prescription drugs.
Early in the morning on March 30, 2005, Mitch Hedberg was found dead in a New Jersey hotel room, reportedly from heart failure. He was 37 years old. His death was first announced by Howard Stern on his morning talk show and later confirmed by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press from his home town of St. Paul, Minnesota. Hedberg had reportedly been preparing for his first HBO special.
The specific cause of his heart failure remains unknown. He was born with a heart defect for which he received extensive treatment as a child, and the effect of drugs on this condition has been cited as a possible cause of death.
Mitch Hedberg could be heard as the voice of Jimmy John's radio advertisements during the months leading up to and after his death. (Since his name was never used in the ads, the company probably felt there was no need to pull the ads after he died.) Every performance of Dave Attell's Insomniac tour featured a toast to Hedberg at the very end.
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