mtd memoriam: Mitch Hedberg

The following is an email I sent out on April 5, 2005

Tonight, I was struck square in the heart by the passing of my favorite comedian. I'm still reading about the details but it was probably drug related, but possibly due to previous heart ailments.

I discovered Mitch Hedberg a few years ago, on an episode of "Comedy Central Presents," where I saw him with his long unkempt hair, darkened glasses, holding a drink, and not to mention his list of jokes, which he referred back to quite frequently and quite matter-of-factly. He was seemingly in a drunken -or possibly drug induced- stupor as he went about delivering his set, often stumbling and sometimes laughing at his own jokes. And yet, he was so funny.

I was mesmerized by the performance. So hilarious. His style was so unique. His jokes ranged from silly and cuddly cute to almost profound. And though he seemed in a mess, he also had an air of purity and true goodness. His observations were like child-beheld discoveries. And with each one, I was filled with that same childlike wonder, and drawn in that much more.

Convinced that he was perhaps the best comedian I'd ever seen, and almost definitely the only contemporary one I could depend on to make me laugh, I had to tape him whenever he was gonna be on Comedy Central or David Letterman. And though I hadn't heard much about him lately, I thought for sure he was in store for greater things.

And as in some cases, when we find an entertainer we really enjoy, I feel we might do more than just like them, but rather feel a connection, and somehow root for their success, and even garner some sort of gratification when they do, as if you, in some way, had something to do with it.

I feel bad and horrible loss, probably close to the same, if not more than how I felt when Chris Farley died. I'm troubled more and more about death, especially celebrities for some reason. Maybe it's that connection, or appreciation you develop for making you laugh or sometimes cry, emote in someway anyway.

The purity of Mitch Hedberg, and Farley, I'd say, makes it doubly bad, because they seemed so childlike, and so innocent, and at the same time deeply troubled and sometimes lost. I don't know why Mitch bothers me more than Terry Chiavo's passing or even the Pope's for that matter. It just does. It's like a joyful game that we used to play, that we simply have no use for anymore, put away by life and the demands of adulthood. It's a past that's been spent. That can't be reversed or played over. It's one less pleasure that no longer exists.


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