Semi funny. Ripped his act off from Steven Wright, but not as good. Saw him live a couple times. Was from my town. Too bad.
St. Paul-born comedian Mitch Hedberg dead; heart failure blamed
St. Paul-born comedian Mitch Hedberg, whose skewed perspective on everyday life grew into a long career in nightclubs, college campuses, television, film and recording, died Wednesday. He was 37.
Hedberg died in Livingston, N.J., while traveling between shows. Pending the medical examiner's report, the cause of death appears to be heart failure, his mother, Mary Hedberg, said Thursday.
She said Hedberg was born with a heart defect and spent much of the first year of his life receiving treatment at the University of Minnesota. He frequently felt anxious about his condition and reported heart palpitations, she said, but "it was determined to be something that would be fine as long as he stayed within the reaches of normalcy."
She characterized speculation that his death was drug-related as "gossiping. We don't know that for a fact," but added, "It's not a secret Mitch used drugs. Whether that played a role in his death or not, we don't know."
Jokes about Hedberg's drug use were a staple of his act and he took a several-month hiatus from performing for after a May 2003 arrest in Austin, Texas, for felony possession of heroin.
His busy touring schedule had become erratic. In mid-March, his performance at the University of Maryland was described in the school newspaper as "unprepared and rushed." During that appearance, Hedberg read his act from notes. A week later he failed to appear for a five-day engagement at the Funny Bones comedy club in Richmond, Va., calling night after night to cancel each performance, according to club spokeswoman, Jessi Plucknett.
Mary Hedberg, who spoke with her son on Saturday, said "he was struggling" but appeared to be "OK."
Hedberg's comic style was smart and whimsical. "An escalator can never break," he observed. "It can only become stairs. You would never see an 'Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order' sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.' "
A hit on "The Late Show With David Letterman," on which he appeared 10 times, and "The Howard Stern Show," Hedberg once was dubbed "the next Seinfeld" by Time magazine. But TV-series fame eluded him because his unique style of mumbled one-liners didn't lend itself to the sitcom format. His rambling, non-sequitur style often drew comparisons to Steven Wright, but Hedberg disagreed.
"If I made potato chips and put them in a can, people would say I was ripping off Pringles," he said. "But what if I put them in a bag?"
Hedberg had two popular comedy CDs, "Strategic Grill Locations" and "Mitch All Together." He acted in Cameron Crowe's movie "Almost Famous" -- smoking fake pot with Peter Frampton -- and appeared on Fox's hit series "That '70s Show."
Drawing on kitchen jobs that he held before becoming a performer, he wrote, directed, produced and acted in the slacker comedy "Los Enchiladas," filmed at St. Paul's Boca Chica restaurant and the Maplewood Mall. The film was featured at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
He was held in high regard among his peers. "He was the greatest comedian ever," said his close friend, Doug Stanhope of cable TV's "The Man Show," who recently opened for Hedberg.