Monday, 27 December 2010

Mitch Heberg

I have no idea what Mitch Hedberg was like.

This is exactly the opposite of what is normally said when opening comments on an admired artist.  The way it's done is... Mitch Hedberg was such and such and so and so and really that's not the way I want to go with this.   I never met the man and have no idea what he was like from first hand experience.

But I can tell you he had - there's that damn past tense again - exactly my sense of humor.

I had a parrot. The parrot talked, but it did not say "I'm hungry," so it died.

You see?

Mitch Hedberg was married to Lynn Shawcroft, also in the standup business.

If you are the type of person that loses stuff, you know of the sweet relief when you find it...there's nothing like thinking you have lost your wallet (for the hundredth time) and then spying it under bed...always a great excuse to party. You feel like you have accomplished something by not losing something.

Discovering Mitch was an odd experience for me.  Browsing yuoutube, standup, looking for a laugh that I sorely seemed to need.  And there he was.  Funny.  My kind of humor:

Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or just a really cool opotamus?

Of course, some of it is in the delivery.

I ordered a chicken sandwich but I think the waitress misunderstood me because she said, "How would you like your eggs?" So I tried to answer her anyhow. I said "Incubated, and then raised, and then beheaded, and then plucked and then cut up then put onto a grill then put onto a bun. Shit, it's gonna take awhile. I don't have time, scrambled!"

For reference, it is now 28th December 2010.  Not one of my best years; with details I shall not trouble you.  It was a joy to discover Mitch and I thought, wow, cool, I will follow this guys career and buy all his material and he will make me laugh and spend the money and that is a cool arrangement that I am happy with and then I noticed that he was dead already.  I think that is a unique kind of sadness I just experienced, a flavour unknown under other circumstances.

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

Mitch, and I know that it is familiar to use is name but there is an odd sense of ownership when you find a standup comic whose singular humor you share, or so I feel; anyway, Mitch had a heart condition from childhood.  You cannot push yourself work-wise to burnout, burn the candle at both ends, and burn any substances desired on a whim and survive into old age when you have a heart condition from childhood.

In the space of a few hours I went from not knowing of his existance, to fanhood, to grieving fan, to angry fan deprived of future work, to obsessive fan finding out all I could of Mitch and his works, to here, telling my own few fans - and I guess this is where I empathise with Mitch the most - the many years of learning his craft while intentionally doing crummy jobs to keep the motivation in place (people with good incomes rarely become comics or writers) and getting that first sniff and taste of sucess and recognition and working harder because there is nothing like it, nothing else half way like it, and then.... damn, no time to enjoy it more than doing it was enjoyable in and of itself.  Climbing the mountain and falling off, rather than decending in a more controlled fashion to speak of it to others who had climbed and share what you can with those who have not.

Goodbye Mitch, and I know I am far from being alone when I say that I will surely miss you.

And to Lynn, best wishes, and I hope you find some of your lost shit.

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