Home / Mitch Hedberg and Stephen Lynch: Sept. 23, 2004, Celebrity Theater, Phoenix, AZ

Mitch Hedberg and Stephen Lynch: Sept. 23, 2004, Celebrity Theater, Phoenix, AZ

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Celebrity Theater’s “in the round” setting provided an unusual setting for a pairing of comedy performances last night, and the slowly spinning stage providing material for everyone involved. After an amusing, if a tad long set by music-comedian Stephen Lynch, whose song-based humor often resembled that of Jack Black’s Tenacious D (if less metal-based,) and hilarious emcee duties handled by previously unknown to me comedian Al Madrigal, expectations were high for the big draw, Mitch Hedberg. Expectations, it turns out, were about to be let down.

Hedberg, for those who don’t know him, has made a name for himself based more on his addled delivery of odd observations. The observations, in and of themselves, are not so laugh-out-loud funny, the humor is almost entirely in the stunted, slow-paced delivery and his constant over-explanation. A classic bit goes “My apartment is infested with koala bears. It was the cutest infestation ever. When I turn on the light, they scatter, but I do not want them to. Don’t run away. I want to hold you . . . and feed you a leaf.” It’s not so funny to read it – but to hear it, it’s hilarious, and his own half-laughter following his jokes may technically be bad “comedy form” but he seems so amused at what comes out of his mouth you can’t help but laugh along with him.

Hedberg toook to the stage clutching two red cups, the kind of red cups everyone knows are usually filled with the hard stuff, setting them down on a stool in the center of the stage. Starting into his routine, it was clear something was wrong. I figured he must have had a little too much of something backstage, and his continued and frequent sampling from the two cups only added to the problem. As time wore on, things got worse. Much worse.

After a short while, he began stumbling about the stage, stupefied, mumbling, delivering punchlines before the body of the joke, laughing for no reason, and at several points throughout the show, simply laid down in the center of the stage. Dangling the microphone over his mouth, he would giggle and sigh, commenting regularly that he couldn’t remember his jokes. The audience egged him on, cheering, clapping, and laughing, tossing suggested bits into the air that he would half-heartedly attempt, then give up in more giggles. At several points I was certain he was on the verge of passing out as the microphone slipped out of his hand to clonk on the stage or on his face, but giggles would emerge again. When he did manage to stand, he approached an older woman at the side of the stage who encourage him to have a seat with her. The security guards approached to ward her off, but Hedberg stumbled off the stage to take a seat, and the woman proceeded to fetishize him, rubbing his hair, touching his clothes, and eventually the two engaged in a sickening makeout session that had the audience groaning and yelling.

Back on stage, Hedberg collapsed to the floor again in a completely incoherent mess. For an achingly long time he simply laughed, attempting to talk and slipping right back into laughter. Commenting that he liked drugs, especiallyXanax, but he was happy with anything, several small pills found their way to the stage, at least one of which he swallowed after mumbling “What is this?” He sat back down on the stage and became the picture of a drunken, washed up loser. Seats quickly began emptying, entire rows vacant, and at one point a man approached the stage with a card. Stumbling to him to retrieve the card, Hedberg read the contents aloud. “‘Jesus loves you.’ Not tonight, man, not after tonight.”

Mumbling that the Celebrity Theater owner was going to be mad in light of a previous incoherent Tempe Improv show, he questioned his performance, lamenting it, repeatedly mumbling that he wanted to “end strong” – Stephen Lynch had started strong, he stated, and Lynch ended strong, and he wanted to not disappoint the fans. He was wrong on all counts, unfortunately. At best he could only end as weakly as he began, but even with shouted lines of bits from audience members he was unable to complete most of his jokes. Upon tossing off a well-worn bit, he simply threw his hands in the air in mock victory, and Al Madrigal jumped in to save the show’s end.

This is Hedberg’s peak. He will never again be as popular as he is right now, and he’s simply throwing it away on drug abuse that he puts on display for his fans. There was next to nothing humorous about his performance – if anything, most people stayed to see if he would make it through his entire act, or, like gawking at a gory accident, stayed to see the slowly unfolding disaster. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we unwittingly paid for.

(You get what you pay for at the beautiful lull. Free? Yeah! And it’s worth it!)

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About Tom Johnson

  • This makes me want to weep.

  • This is horrible. I saw Hedberg less than a year ago open for Lewis Black and Dave Attell, and he was absolutely brillant, stealing the show completely from his more famous colleagues. Hopefully he can pull himself together before he throws away his career.

  • I hope so too. My wife said there was an interview with him in the paper before the show and he was upset that HBO hadn’t given him a show yet. He’s apparently been pulling off a lot of seriously degraded and drug-adled performances lately, or not showing up at all, so it’s easy to see why HBO would be hesitant to offer him anything. Either way, it’s incredibly sad – last night was hands-down the most depressing thing I’ve ever actually witnessed happening on stage.

  • This, for example. Why are comedians so self-destructive?

  • I doubt the card I gave him with the spiritual message on the back did anything to make him think twice about the condition it seems he has himself in, but Mitch is by far my favorite comedian whose jokes are a staple among my friends and I’s conversations. For some reason I just couldn’t get up and leave. I hope he finds help and comes back strong. Thanks for taking the time to post the events of the show online – you’ve saved me allot of typing. 😉

  • Brian Capp

    I was at this show and paid 70 bux for my wife and I. We were there to see Hedberg, as I am not really into singing comedians…thats why I go to rock concerts.

    Anywayzzzz, Stephen Lynch went on first because he had some BS to do in San Diego (I guess CA is first priority), apparently Hedberg usually comes on first which is obvious now why.

    It was worse thatn the review suggests, its as if the almost 3000 people who paid 32.50 each (sold out) did not matter. His need to be waysted [sic] was more important. Doesn’t he have a handler or manager to keep him from going on drunk? He would spend 20 minutes complaining about the pressures of being a comic. Well I am an insurance producer, would my clients pay to listen to me complain about the pressures of being in insurance, plus the 3 kids I amd raising? Not.

    I wish I had brought my kids, I can not think of anything that would horrify them into not drinking alcohol, it would have been a more powerful statement.

    The stuff with the old lady who herself wanted to be part of the show was downplayed in this review, is he still married to Lynn?, he was making out with some old lady who had to dye her hair blonde because it was grey, but she still thinks she is 25 and had attention issues. She thought she was part of the show.

    He asked for xanax and people through pills on stage and he took them, I am not sure what it was but xanax is rather small and the pills he took were rather large. Probably that old b*@&ch’s estrogen.

    2 things about this show that piss me off the most.

    1. He was brilliant in San Diego from what I hear from friends.

    2. and worst of all for a comic. HE WAS NOT FUNNY.

    Does anyone want to buy my 2 Hedberg CD’s Mitch All Together and Strategic Grill Locations.

    Thanks for listening to my rant!!!


    ps. this was his funniest joke out of the 3 he told in 1 and a half hours. “I don’t get it, is it a Hippopatamus or a really cool styling O-Patamus

  • It sucked to see Mitch fall apart up there. I was shocked, I couldn’t believe I paid to see him. He is still the man though.

  • fez

    I was there that night, and it is rather unfortuante to see such a talent fall into bad performance as that. I stayed the duration out of respect. You couldn’t help feel bad for him. Hope he comes back “strong.”

  • brandi

    I saw Mitch Hedberg in Houston on Sept 30th. We had front row tickets so the fear that Mitch Hedberg would either pass out and fall on us, or throw up on us was not unrealistic. How sad is it that Hedberg has drugged his way into a cliche? I can say one thing for him..the guy is brilliant. To be that wasted and still be able to stand and utter at least partially complete sentences is an amazing feat! Stephen Lynch was great, although it appeared that he had snorted just a teeeny bit too much cocaine prior to his performance. I hope they both manage to get their stuff together because they are both great comics!

  • Marilyn

    FWIW I saw Mitch on Saturday Night 10/16/04 at Town Hall in NYC. He was in great form, and did a wonderful show. So maybe he did learn a lesson from the Phoenix show. He did make one comment, that alluded to his troubles–He said, out of the blue, at the beginning of his set “I’m fine, whatever you may have heard”

  • zach

    i saw him the next night in san diego and he was stone sober and complaining because he said that ‘after last night his manager wouldnt let him do anything before the show’. he kept repeating that he was way funnier drunk.

  • steve

    Wish me luck, I am driving out to Vegas tomorrow to see him. I am a HUGE fan and hope he can just keep it together for his set. Then lets get wasted together afterwords. Ill keep yall updated. I left out the o and the u on purpose.

  • I saw him about two years ago and he was hilarious… firing on all pistons. Apparently in comic circles he is well know for heroin. Bummer!

  • steve

    I am the one who saw him in Vegas. He kick ASS! Top notch, great mood, very quick and witty. I was yelling jokes out with him like I was at a rock concert. Good job brotha. Cant wait to see you again soon. Steve.

  • ivy

    Boston was a repeat of Phoenix (per TJ’s 9/24 interview), perhaps to a lesser degree. The show proved that Mitch is incapable of not being funny but his performance definitely took a strange and antagonistic turn.

    Both CD’s are great and his performance at Skidmore College earlier this year was hysterical.

  • Jennifer Rice

    I am glad I finally found this site. You know, I saved up money so I could take my boyfriend to see our favorite comedian on his 2yr anniversary of sobriety. hah! What a joke. We had both seenhim years before and were impressed. I cannot say we were this night. It is weird to see a “celebrity” literally throw their career down the toilet right in front of your face. It was like being at a Doors show and Jim Morrison is passing out on stage. My boyfriend said it looked like a chalk outline when Mitch was just lying there far from sober. It was sad and disappointing. It did do something positive for both of us though. It reminded us of how we were back in the day and how we could be now. We’ve accomplished so much with clarity. There is nothing wrong with drinking, but if someone takes too much money out of their pocket to support you and to be entertained, you better deliver. I have lost much respect and money we cannot get back. That night as soon as I got home I emailed clear channel with my complaints, because Celebrity said they could not refund my money. Weeks later, they offered me tickets to nothing but crappy shows. There aren’t many comedians that can really hold my attention, and that night I lost $70 and a whole lot of respect for someone I thought was different and refreshing. Thanks a lot Mitch!

  • katy

    I saw Mitch in philly last night, 11/27/04, and wasn’t aware of his ‘problems’ lately. Imagine my surprise when he came on stage, wasted and barely able to tell a joke. At first, i thought it was part of the show, then, after an hour of mostly incoherent babble, i sat cringeing and looking at my watch, and apologising to friends whom i’d encouraged to come, telling them “he is one of the funniest comics you’ll ever see”.
    Sadly enough, he KNEW he was blowing it and kept apologising, then told us not to go online today and write horrible things about him, b/c they’re hurtful for him to read. So, here i sit, feeling guilty for betraying his wishes and sad that i’m witnessing a brilliant talent wasting everything he has accomplished; but i’m also upset that i forked over $126 for 3 tix for everyone!!!!
    I hope the best for him, and hope he finally gets himself back together. He seems like a sweet, intelligent guy who had great potential.

  • EWilliams

    Hmmm… this sounds exactly like the DC show he just performed on Jan 22, 2005. Except for the makeout session. My boyfriend and I went on the recommendation from a friend who said this supposed comedian was hilarious. It was a horrendous show and it seems that he keeps repeating himself from these other reviews I have read. I have never seen such a train wreck!!!!! What I dont understand is why people like him and keep going to see him. I dont think I even smiled once. I really wanted to write a review on his website but unfortunately they dont have a section for that. I just get so enraged even thinking about the time I wasted going to see him. He isnt funny, his jokes SUCKED and the state he was in was embarassing!! The whole time I was stopping myself from screaming “YOU SUCK, SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET OFF THE STAGE”!!!!!!!!!!

  • Amie Kotlik

    My husband and I saw Mitch in Pittsburgh 1/27/05 and though he was not totally trashed, we were disappointed. He seemed to spend too much time with his back to the audience and off the stage, getting another beer and doing God knows what else. He also had to keep referring to jokes in a notebook; my husband and I felt like guinea pigs as he repeatedly would say “That joke needs work” or “By March that joke will be better” or “That joke sucked. It’s not going anywhere.” Unfortunately most of the material never went anywhere. At one point he laid on the floor far from his stool and said, “Oh, I need my notebook. I can’t do this without my notebook,” which we felt was extremely pathetic let alone embarrassing. We are both fans of Mitch and we hope that he gets it rogether or he’ll quickly be a has-been.

  • madison

    Glad I found this site and this information.. it explains so much. Boyfriend and I went to see Stephen Lynch and Mitch in Cleveland 2 12 05. Lynch came out first- Amazing, fast witted and funny.
    Mitch came out with his notebooks in hand . A great deal of boring bad material (I could go to a bar and be just as entertained by the drunks there) We wanted to leave but felt like trapped rats (our seats were front and center.. no where to run without making a scene). He rambled on longer then he was suppose to (woman backstage started yelling out the time to him)… After the show we over heard the stage crew mention how ridiculous he is getting with his act-dragging on for longer then Anyone wants and not making much sense.. let alone making much comedy — never again.

  • matt

    This is interesting to read. I just saw him at Caroline’s in New York. It was my second time to see him. The first time was great, whereas this time was not as good. To echo all these other stories, he came out so drunk that it looked like he could barely stand up, and I too literally wondered if he would be able to finish his set. And again, he mumbled through a lot of jokes and didn’t finish jokes that he started and then apologized repeatedly for how bad he was doing. That said, it wasn’t as bad as some of the other reviews posted here. He was still funny and it was still a good show, just nowhere near as good as he’s capable of. But from reading the other posts, it sounds like this is a definite pattern and a problem for him. Hopefully he’ll realize it and fix it.

  • JP

    I am employeed by a comedy club in VA where Mitch was scheduled to appear Wed. March 21st thru Today, the 26th. Unfortunately, Mitch has been ‘ill’ and just not shown up for work Wed, Thurs, and 2 shows on Friday. A phone call would have been nice, but we’re all just standing around waiting and hoping he’ll come staggering thru our door. So, Mitch if you ever read this, please remember that many people’s livelyhood depend on your attendance.

  • Mitch Hedberg’s death March 30/31 of a heroin overdose is being reported by Howard Stern today, and it is backed up by listeners of a Baltimore area station (Hedberg has been playing Baltimore this week.) I can find no reliable news sources reporting this, but it does not appear to be a sick early April Fool’s joke, I’m sad to say. I will make an official post when I find out more.

  • Damn, Mitch.

  • David Riley

    Nope, he’s gone. My friend had tickets to go see him tonight, and the Baltimore Improv confirmed it. His publisher just announced it a few hours ago. It’s not on his website yet, but… damn. What a waste. Another Jim Morrison or Lenny Bruce.

  • mv

    “Another Jim Morrison or Lenny Bruce.”

    Yes, a very apt comparison. Reading these comments, I had no idea how bad his performances had gotten. So sad.

    RIP, Mitch. You’ll be missed and remembered for your talent.

  • I am incredibly sad, but at the same time feel incredibly guilty…as fans, we laughed at his behavior, little did we know it would take his life. I always thought his erratic behavior was an act, something that was crafted and rehearsed and perfected. Im sure alot of us did, as we sat there and laughed at his stumbling and incoherance. I dont know about you, but now I feel a little ashamed for laughing. The show is over, and the joke was on us.

  • Cam Fu
  • Long url – nice post

  • Kimberly

    I saw him in Cincinnati in February. I convinced a friend she should come because he was terrific.
    It was a strange thing to watch. We immediately looked at each other and said “Is he completely wasted?”. As Mitch has often done he kept his eyes shut about 80% of the show. He was brought a drink which he promptly and (?)accidently kicked over. He had his “book” with him and kept referring to it. It was weird but I hadn’t realized his problems had escalated to this point. I’m devesatated. He seemed to pull it together at one point in the show but apparently that was just a very temporary situation. Mitch…you were the best and I wouldn’t sell my CD’s for anything. I thank you for the laughs.

  • Brett

    Well I went to the Mitch show in Boston with stephen lynch. Yeah he was pretty messed up on stuff, and he did lie on the stage for a while, but it was all part of act. He eventually got up and finished the show strong, just like he said he was trying to do. The part of the show where he lies down is improv. He’ll do anything, and encourage interaction with the audience. If he had started hooking up with a random girl in the audience at my show I’d think it’s halarious. He always spits out random punchlines, its part of his act. You guys say you are fans but you obviously haven’t seen enough performances. Nor will you ever get to.

  • Avi

    Man, I had first saw/heard of Mitch way back on his first Comedy Central Presents show. Since then, I’ve gathered that performance in video and audio performance, and a video of him on Leno, as well as audio of him being interviewed on radio with his wife, and on Lettermen twice. I just got his 2 CDs yesterday (March 30). He’s still the funniest comedian ever. Man.
    In Iron Maiden’s words, only the good die young.

  • Michael

    I saw Mitch in Cincy last month after he missed a show in Columbus. I thought he was hilarious. I was at the first show of the night and don’t remember him drinking at all.(maybe just some water) But he did act wasted. He was holding on to the rear wall of the stage for the whole show so as to not fall over. I thought it was all shtick. Maybe not. He kept on getting down on himself when he thought he wasn’t funny, always apologizing to the audience. But I don’t know why he thought that because he killed that night. He will be missed. Thanks, Mitch for giving a lot of people a little piece of happiness. Knowing now what kind of shape he was in makes it that much more meaningfull. Maybe now he can open his eyes.

  • garrett

    wow i saw him at the warfield the first of the tour. he was great but no one laughed. they were all drunk losers there for lynch. seriously they all drank way too much. they heckled him and didnt let him tell anyting new. in the end he was resorting to “testing the spotlight man” it was hilarious but he didnt get anything. i wonder if thats why this happened. maybe it was the fact that the crowd in the beggining was against him. im really sad to hear this. seriously like verge of tears. he was working out of a book for the new stuff but he never got to tell it. ya he did git down on himself a lot because he kept flopping. you could tell the people who wernt drunk cause they actully laughed at the end of the joke and not in a stupor. at the end he was just going “mother fucker what am i gonna do now” i felt so sorry for him cause no one was there for him or even wanted to hear him laughed whenever he wasnt telling a joke. he was great but he wasnt wanted maybe thats what happened
    oh this was december.

  • Russ

    RIP Mitch, we’ll miss you.

    This article says it all…

  • Ben

    I have seen two of Mitch’s performances, both in the Twin Cities. I saw him for the first time 2 years ago, after seeing his Comedy Central special, which put me on my ass laughing. The first performance was absolutely incredible. Home town crowd, he was still somewhat unknown, and the set was awesome. Timing, delivery, pacing—all perfect. Comics could study the set to learn about the craft.

    The second time I saw him was more reminiscent of what people are talking about here. He was clearly half-gone, although not as bad as he apparently was for some other people. Lynch went first, and it was hard to sit through (sorry, just not a fan of musicomedy, which is a hybrid of bad music and bad jokes that apparently some people find funny), but I endured it because, man, Mitch was on next. Mitch did his whole set, didn’t fall down, didn’t lay on the stage, but he was wasted, and a bit giggly. And his set suffered, b/c Mitch’s comedy needed that good pacing, deadpan delivery, etc.

    End of the day, the world is poorer. Mitch, you were a great comedian. Sorry the other stuff got in the way.

    “Every photograph of you is from the past.”

  • noprotein

    Comedy Central is airing his infamous presents special again tonight… i just finished it for like the 200th time…

    Why man… you’ll be very sadly missed. fuck fuck fuck. another brilliant creative and unique mind lost to drugs. how many more have to die before we realize? what a fucking waste

  • GillianSouth

    I just want to go on record to say I love Mitch and my prayers go out to Lynn and the Hedberg family.

    I’ve been a fan of Mitch for quite a few years- ironically, he made me laugh through hard times when my mom died of alcoholism (withdrawl and liver complications). My experience with this is that I won’t remember Mitch for his bad days- only his best ones. I have a lot of awful memories of my mom when she was under the influence- but that’s not who she was and that is not who she will be remembered as. Same goes for Mitchie.

    He will always, always go down as a brilliant comic and an all-around guy, from things I’ve read about him. I encourage all to read his journals on his website. I wish he could have found recovery. I hope this is a wake-up call for any of his fans struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. Some of the most amazing, brilliant, funny, kind people suffered from, as Mitch said “the only disease you can get yelled at for having.”

    Fans, laugh again, and remember him well as Mitch Hedberg, the one and only.


    Mitch, as I hear they say in times like this at comedy clubs:

    “Make God laugh.”

    Hope they have lots of koalas up there for you, pal.

  • Kingpin

    After seeing him on Comedy Central I took my son and his friend to see Mitch and Stephen Lynch at the Oakdale theatre in Wallingford, CT at the end of January. He was late…. He came on and killed!!! He was incredibly alert and funny. Making fun of the venue, “it looks like a F***ing barn, so I drove right by”, and interacting with the audience. I am sorry to hear of his battles with drugs and alcohol and can only hope this is one lesson my son will take to heart. He is devastated, as I am, to see such a shining light snuffed out way to early in life. We love you Mitch and will miss you dearly. Catch you on the flip side brother……..

  • B-rent

    I am truly sad to see the end of career that had so much potential. I know his jokes will live on forever. Rest in Peace, Mitch. God Bless.

  • pamelaNeko

    I saw Mitch in Chicago on November 13. He was hilarious – a great night for him. He was drinking & smoking on stage – but not *wasted*. He never ended up lying down! I felt bad for him b/c some rude-ass drunks in the balcony started screaming at him halfway through his routine: Get off he stage, Bring Stephen back, You suck, etc. At one point he stopped his joke and told them to fuck off. I felt really bad for him–at the time, I had not heard about his recent wasted performances.

  • Barkley

    He was as entertaining as any other stoners you see shitting themselves on the street.

    Saw him at the Montreal Comedy Fest, and it was completely pathetic. With him gone, perhaps some other poor starving (but talented) comedian will get a chance.

    Too bad he had to go and kill himself, but his “comedy”… *pathetic*

  • Joshua

    Was at the phoenix show on 9/23. Left about 20 minutes into Mitch’s set, and contacted ClearChannel Inc for refund of tickets.

    Seems kinda petty now.

    God bless you Mitch. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    “Go around! I can not open the wall.”

  • Mitch was great, I’m catholic and I was more upset over Mitch’s passing than that of the Pope. Asinine comments like Barkley’s do nothing but promote his own ignorance on the subject at hand. Mitch’s brilliance can be found forever on his CDs, DVDs, and other videos.

    I cant say I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure) of hearing Mitch live – I couldnt bring myself to pay over 50 bucks to see Lewis Black and Dave Attell when all I wanted to see was Mitch. In hindsight, it wouldve been the best 50 I could have spent.

    “I wanna hang a map of the world in my house in my house. Then I’m going to put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to; but first I’m going to travel to the top two corners of the map so it wont fall down.”

  • ian’dalocal

    As a comic myself, the loss that is felt due to Mitch’s untimely death is great. Mitch spent time working here in Seattle in the late 90’s and many comics from here have great stories (good and bad) about Mitch, his act and antics. As I read this seemingly endless page of posts about Mitch being f*cked up on stage, I can’t help but wonder where the people who truly cared for Mitch were…and why they didn’t get him help. It just seems sad that Mitch is now another Chris Farley…gone too soon for reasons that might have been prevented. RIP, brother. I hope heaven is infested with koala bears.

  • DavePillman

    I agree with randyman, I was more upset over the death of Mitch than I was the Pope, or even that Schaivo woman.
    I heard only one of Mitch’s jokes *I wanna be a racecar passenger* and I was hooked…..Even now, it makes me sad to know he’s gone, and I too, hope they have Koala bears in heaven, and a beret for him to finally wear.

  • x

    i first saw mitch on comedy central and thought he was hilarious. i looked him up on the internet that night and it was the same day that he died. i purchased both of his cd’s and he is completely funny. i get his jokes, even the taffy one! he makes me laugh and i am sorry that he had to leave the world too soon. listening to his words makes me happy and laugh. thanks for the good vibes mitch…alllriiight

  • Freshkid

    Tura killed Mitch Hedburg!

  • Ed

    I saw Mitch in Cincinnati. I was disappointed for his set was old material, delivered badly. He was clearly NOT AT HIS BEST.
    I didn’t know about the drug issues and thought it was all part of his act. Sadly, it wasn’t.
    It seems in the world of comedy, unless you clean up on your own..nobody is going to reach out until it’s too late.

  • Richard

    Damn…reading all those reviews before his death really puts it into perspective. I didn’t know he got that bad.

    He’s one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever seen. Too bad his life ended so soon. I wish he had cleaned up but I guess that’s just the way it goes.
    RIP Mitch…you were one funny motherfucker

  • Mitch was one of my all-time favorite comedians. He told jokes that were on a different level, that many people didn’t seem to get. I got them though, and laughed even harder because I knew exactly what he was talking about.

    For example: “I don’t wear a watch because I want my arms to weigh the same. So if somebody asks me what time it is, I have to tell them something that is going on. ‘What time is it, Mitch?’ ‘Uh, that guy is eating a hamburger.’ ‘Shit, I had to be somewhere …’ ”

    Hilarious. I laughed for like five minutes. Some people don’t get it at all though, and they call him hurtful names. Well each to his own. They probably prefer knock-knock or something.

    Anyway, this is my two-cents on it. If I ever become a stand-up comedian, I’ll be naming him as one of my influences.

  • Jackelope

    I lost track of Mitch Hedburg for quite a while, after first hearing his quirky delivery and and sly insights on the cartoon Home Movies. He made me laugh out loud more than once, which is pretty damn hard to do to this jaded cynic. I assumed he was at least destined for the same level of success as, say, Dave Attell or any of the Comedy Central regulars and that he’d be, if not a household name then at least recognized as a damn funny guy.

    Just today I read a sideline blurb on some site about Mitch being found dead in a motel room over a month ago, and then find a long, harsh list of reviews of his last shows all agreeing that he was BADLY out of it, and I just have to remember the warm, witty humor of the guy. Another one of the Good Dead Ones.

    Mitch Hedburg, rest in peace. It seems like you got little enough of it in these last years.

  • My wife and I are huge Mitch fans. We’ve seen him on TV several times, have his CDs, and saw him at the Tempe Improv last summer.

    We also were at the September show at Celebrity Theater in Tempe.

    I’ve read the previous comments, and I particularly take offense to the people who insist that those of us who didn’t enjoy that show haven’t seen enough of Mitch to “get it”. You’re all dead wrong.

    One person even commented that, had they been there, they would have thought it hilarious to see a wasted Mitch trying to make out with an audience member. If that’s the case, then you’re completely twisted. That bit wasn’t funny at all, and nearly the entire audience was booing him to get his ass back on stage and perform.

    If you enjoy seeing an obviously drunk guy (and no, not just ACTING drunk) pick up pills that folks throw onto the stage, toss them in his mouth with no hesitation or examination of them, and wash them down with alcohol, with no concern of what it’s going to do to them, then you’re probably the same type of individual who gets off on watching people die in things like “Faces of Death”. Mitch’s on-stage self-destruction was like watching a guy commit a slow painful suicide. It was as though he didn’t care what happened to himself. I remarked to my wife on the way home that night that “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a story in tomorrow’s paper that he’d been admitted to the hospital for an overdose.” I was relieved to see no such headline, though.

    Today, after discussing favorite comedians and describing Mitch’s work, I visited his website to show my friend what Mitch looked like and learned of his death. It gave me chills…but I guess a part of me wasn’t surprised.

    Mitch, I know your loved ones are probably asking themselves what they could have done differently to have kept you here. My prayers go out to them, but you chose your own path, even though I’m sure it must have been an attempt to escape whatever emotional pain you had. You probably had no idea how close you were to killing yourself.

    If nothing else, Mitch, maybe your death will wake up a few folks and keep them from getting in over their heads with drugs. Your comedy will live on in our hearts, but I hope the story of your life, self-destruction, and untimely demise will as well. We need to be reminded of how fragile our lives really are…and at least, thanks to you, we can laugh about most of it.

    Humor is the best drug, and hopefully the only one to which I’ll ever be addicted.

    RIP, Mitch.

  • dave’s wife

    To piggyback my husband’s comments above, Mitch was one of the funniest comedians I ever saw live (at the Tempe Improv) and one of the saddest downspirals I’ve ever observed (Celebrity show). The show at the Celebrity was not just part of the act as posted by Brett, it was incredibly embarrassing and appalling to watch. I WILL miss seeing Mitch again and now can only wish that someone close to him could have reached him in time. I chose to remember him as the endearing, shy, incredibly funny entertainer who had me rolling in laughter one night in Tempe and keeps me laughing no matter how many times I listen to his cds.

    I am tired of losing great entertainers to drinking, drugs and other stupidity, and although I’ve been know to laugh at drug/alcohol jokes, it’s rapidly becoming not funny anymore.

    Mitch, hope they’re all laughing with you at the comedy club in the sky and you get to cuddle with the Koalas all night…

  • JR

    Damn Mitch. I never had the opportunity to see you live but loved your comedy. I came across his work TOTALLY at random. Searched “comedy” on download program and got his Mitch all together cd. Have since bought both albums and the dvd. This guy laughed about the same things that I do!! He had me rolling with tears as he first started giving Chuck instructions not fuck up because they were making a cd tonight and to kick the Bass up as the jokes went down and he had a lifelong fan when he helped a friend stay put. I was telling a friend about Mitch this weekend and that they had to hear him when they said yeah, he’s the one who just died right? Damn Mitch. Anyway, I am rambling but just wanted to say that I have never heard anyone like Mitch, and his issues won’t lessen the loss.

  • dan

    mitchs passing woke me up. here is an email i sent to mitchs family (in which they promptly replied with great words as well)

    “Lynne and family
    My name is Danny Angeline. I am 23 and live just outside
    Philadelphia. Mitch played a large role in my life, past and present.
    He has been my favorite stand up for many years, since I first saw him
    on Comedy Central. I would watch and listen to his act numerous times
    daily, whether it be to get me out of a funk I was in or for sheer
    enjoyment of laughter. I only got to see him perform live once a few
    months back. Unfortunately, Mitch and I shared the same vice in life.
    My 3 year habit started to get the best of me lately. Things were
    getting pretty low all acorss the board. Waking up on April 1st was an
    awful day for me. So for the next few days I sat in my room listening
    to Mitch. The only time I would leave was to go see the man on the
    corner to get the bags i would need for the remainder. Then on April
    15 I realized I could not go on living the life I was living. I had to
    get things cleaned up. Instead of sitting there wallowing in my
    sorrows I checked myself into rehab. I was there for 12 days and today
    I am celebrating 21 days clean. I just wanted to let you know that
    Mitch has effected my life very much and I wish i could share this
    story with him as well. I hope that my story will help shed a ray of
    sunlight on your day. My family is also aware of the role that Mitch
    played in my life and my recent decisions to get clean. I hope all is
    as well as it can be for you.
    Danny A”


  • dan

    oooops…didnt mean to leave my last name in there…stay clean


  • Dr.B

    Like Dan, I too listened to Mitch CDs for days after I learned of his passing. Through his lifes work, he has and will always be able to make me,my friends, and family smile and laugh out loud. What a wonderful contribution to the world.
    Thanks man.

  • Mark Vincent

    Mitch was on comedy central a half hour ago,I screamed to girlfriend to hurry up and get in here(the living room)to watch him.I also called my sister to tell her to watch because I bragged about him so much.Then she dropped the bombshell…..”you know he’s dead dont you?”I couldn’t believe it!I immediately scoured the net for details and came upon this forum.
    How sad to read this….I’m shocked and in disbelief.
    I have cleaned up from alcohol(5 months on July 5th)and have been to rehabs and such many times.And that was just booze.I was an in the entertainment industry as well and know how hard it is to be under pressure to perform for others all the time,having doubts about yourself,and using a substance(any substance)to “take the edge off”.I almost died during widthdrawl seizures more than once….I was VERY lucky.My heart goes out to Mitches’ wife and family.

  • dig


  • adam

    damn is fucking right.

  • bell

    You know what’s more sickening than a celebrity making a mistake and botching a performance? Anybody posting here concerned about the money spent on the show. Priorities people. Oh and ‘Brian’ you wish you had brought your kinds to that show! Shame on you, you don’t deserve your kids.

  • So, bell, by your comment, the performer is not to be held responsible when his addiction destroys a performance? That’s perfectly okay to you?

  • Jean Bailey

    We saw Mitch perform in Columbus back in February. He absolutely KILLED. My son and I laughed so hard tears were coming form our eyes. It was a special occasion for us because my son was home from the Army and when my sister and her husband couldn’t make the show, she gave her tickets to my son and his girl (I suspect she really could go, but knowing my son would be deploying in a few months and loved Mitch so much…). Anyway, my sister went to see him in March or April in Cleveland, and he was an enebriated mess. I had no idea Mitch has such a drug problem… what a complete waste. But I’ll never forget that cold night in February, when I laughed so hard my ribs hurt by the end of the show. RIP, Mitch.

  • i saw mitch 3 times. he destroyed every time i saw him. hilarious comedian, tragic loss, we will never forget him.

  • Tom Morello

    No comedian will ever be able to make another joke about buying something as simple as a donut. Good bye Mitch

  • Don

    Reading the early posts it is sad to think about the way he went out. Its too bad nobody stepped in when the signs were clearly there that he was spiraling out of control. I’m glad I didn’t witness one of his later shows if this is how he was performing. I DO wish I had seen him earlier when he was on top of his game. Sadly I never got the chance. He was a brilliant comic, and there are very few of them, especially now. One of the first posts is very ominous, refering to him canceling what would have been his last string of shows the last week on March due to an “illness”. If only we had known.

  • Stewie

    As I read through all these comments before I had got down to 67. I had to think, “couldn’t anyone see this coming?” Who was around him? Didn’t Mitch say he read this stuff himself? Hasn’t anyone in the entertainment business seen this pattern before?….How about John Belushi, Chris Farley? This was preventable…..clearly! His death is on the heads of the people who were making money off Mitch’s back. “The show must go on” is bullshit, if those people had any vision they would see that shutting down and getting healthy would have been best for everyone involved in the long run, especially Mitch!!

    I’m sorry for the loss.

    Keepm’ laughin’ up there Mitch.


  • aaron

    I found out tonight on Comedy Central’s show with Dane Cook and Dave Attell that Mitch was gone. I was in total shock. I absolutely loved his stuff and had to get myself off the floor after hearing it. I made my wife listen to him and she became a fan as well. Unfortunatly, he will go down as another one “lost to drugs”. Too bad Mitch, you could have been one of those come back stories…Now you’ll get to find out what seseme seeds turn into, in fact i’ll plant one in your honor. You are and will be dearly missed. See you dude.

  • aaron

    I found out tonight on Comedy Central’s show with Dane Cook and Dave Attell that Mitch was gone. I was in total shock. I absolutely loved his stuff and had to get myself off the floor after hearing it. I made my wife listen to him and she became a fan as well. Unfortunatly, he will go down as another one “lost to drugs”. Too bad Mitch, you could have been one of those come back stories…Now you’ll get to find out what seseme seeds turn into, in fact i’ll plant one in your honor. You are and will be dearly missed. See you dude.

  • Cuz’n Larry

    First time I saw Mitch, was at Letterman. I thought his humour was so refreshing and sharp. I’m from Holland, and I stumbled upon a site with his clips today, laughing so hard again, I went to search for a DVD, but instead I just found out he died. So sad he’s gone, he could have been one of the big ones! I mean if even a guy from Holland likes his material, than who doesn’t…
    In how much pain was he, to lose control over his life……

  • No1 special

    Maybe mitch’s botched stage performance was his way of pleading for help? Mitch was one of the finest men I had ever met. Yes, I knew him.

    I knew mitch briefly in life in an airport cafe. He asked me if he could borrow the “Slow-down” and I sat there with a confused expression on my face. He said that everything in life was always pushing forward, even ketchup.

    He sat and talked with me shortly, mostly about life and the funny things we see everyday. I didn’t even know who he was, I just thought he was a rather intresting person, who made me feel as if we were old friends.

    Later on, I sat watching comedy central and was shocked to see the same man who asked for the “Slow-down” standing on stage performing. A smile came across my face, knowing that, That young man made it.

    To hear of his passing was a sad day for me. He was a comedic genius and the world was a better place because of him, if only for a short time.

  • Kristi

    I am a stand-up comic. It is brutal business- there is nothing to hide behind: its just you…and if you’re not “killin'” the audience, the comedy’s killin’ you. RIP, Mitch, Bless you, you brilliant dumb jerk! You took yourself away from us much too soon and shame on you for that.

  • Tony Sanchez

    I think Alcool was not the main probleme with Mitch. I didn’t know him until today and after the special 30 minutes I’ve just seen, I wanted to contact him through his website and found out about him being gone. Being “the funny guy” for some people is the only way to exorcise your lonelyness and sadness. I wish all the best for his loved ones.
    R.I.P Mitch Hedberg.

  • Jens

    Living in Denmark I never had the chance to see him a/live.

    I remember seeing him the first time on David Letterman, I especially broke down after: ‘Throw the ball back to Jimmy?’ Not many know of him around here, but I can’t help quoting his outrageous observations, now and then. My all time favourite in this black’n white world is: ‘I used to play in a Death Metal band. People either loved us or they hated us…or they just thought we were “okay”.’

    Mitch’s comedy spoke directly to my subtle, shy and wondering humor, learning of his deroute and death is heartbreaking news. As the class clown, I know being the funny guy can take it’s toll and I’ve also struggled with addiction. Family and friends can only do so much, kicking an addiction isn’t something people can do for you.

    Loved and missed – RIP.

  • Steve

    although this happened, im angered to hear what this dude has to say about it. 2004, mitch using drugs? no way. he had been clean since 2001. and also when someone gets drunk people wont care or forget quickly. but when mitch hedberg gets drunk hes labeled as a fiend, “self destuctive”, and as his career is down the toilet. mitch hedberg was a great man. greater than i or anyone else on this forum will ever be. RIP MITCH

  • Tom

    Steve (comment #76,) I was there – I wrote this piece and I don’t appreciate being accused of lying. Mitch was more than drunk – he was completely and totally wasted, and he DID pop the pills that were thrown onto stage for him. You can argue semantics all you want – “fiend,” “addict,” whatever. The fact remains that Hedberg was really screwed up, and my review of the show stands as honest a review of someone whose comedy I really loved can be – I only reported what I saw, as sad and unfortunate as that is.

  • Pixel

    Man, I just found out – guess i’ve been really really out of the loop. None of my friends or family “got” Mitch Hedberg’s humor; But Mitch was priceless and i will miss him. I’m thankful for what he gave and sorry he left us so soon.

  • Angela

    My boyfriend and i love Mitch and were very sad to hear of his passing.Sadly we will never get to see him live and in person like we wanted. We will miss the laughter he bought to our lives. If only he could have found the help he needed. RIP Mitch

  • Ben Tupper

    Brian Capp – I wish you could funnel your anger into something more productive. I really have only a shallow understanding of him/his comedy, but he seems like he was a sweet guy when he was a live. oh yeah, you might want to learn how to use the accusitive form “me” for the sentence “for my wife and i[sic].” it just sounds kind of pretentious.

  • Joe

    Why didn’t anyone help him? He obviously had problems that he could not control. It’s as though all of these people saw a car crash coming from a mile away but never tried to prevent it… sad.

  • Joe

    By the way, I would also like to add that alcohol is a drug too. People always refer to “drugs and alcohol”, but they are one and the same. If you drink alcohol, you are doing drugs… its just that “having a drink” sounds much nicer than “taking drugs”.

    Obviously, drugs like heroin are far worse than alcohol… but I just wanted to point that out.

  • Actually Joe, alcohol is a worse drug than heroin. The only real problems with heroin are the risk of overdosing and the challenge of maintaining a reliable supply.

    I have known quite a few middle class heroin addicts with responsible jobs and their employers and even their friends wouldn’t necessarily know about it. Being an alcoholic is far more damaging in both health and social terms.

  • i agree with christepher Rose alcoholic are mean depressed and lonley. drugs are for partying and opens you mind and will often make you a better person. i have an alcoholic mother and a druggo brother and i know what i would choose.

  • jennifer rice

    I commented on the show I had seen back in Sept. 04, and how sad and dissappointed I was. I know this is long over due, but I thought I would post. It all makes sense. I mean with the drinking, drug use, and pathetic shows. He was amazing, unique, and entertaining. He had a great wife and faimly to support him and he threw it all away. I miss his entertainment as there aren’t many out there today that compare, and I am sad that there was so much more he could have done for himself and the world.

  • frank

    Man oh man.. I never knew so many people were so deeply drawn to Mitch and the understanding for his sense of humor. Let me tell you, alot of people around me never understood what the hell he was talking about.. Mitch, you are the man.. Thanks for making sense to some of us out here.. God bless.

  • 2222222

    If he were here today, would Mitch now understand how well he was loved by so many? I believe he was ultimately incapable of fully accepting that love, incapable of feeling truly worthy of it, and that this was likely what drove him to his tragic end.

    “It’s all about likeability, really” was an offhand remark he made while talking to himself in front of hundreds – recorded for millions to later witness – that is so haunting now, more than three years later. This “likeability” was his holy grail, it seems. He was so introspective, so self-critical, and became so dysfunctional while striving for an ultimate perfection that he nor anyone else could ever hope to achieve. He fell so short of his own expectations without realizing how far he had exceeded what could be reasonably expected of him. I still grieve for this man, every day, and continue to learn from the pain he suffered.

  • 2222222

    Four years gone, but never forgotten.

  • RB

    2222222 – very, very well said. RIP mitch. We still love you.

  • James

    Just dug out “Do You Believe In Gosh” again and my sides are aching. Can’t believe it’s more than five years since Mitch died. His death upset me more than the death of any other celebrity in history. He was of the most naturally funny people who ever lived and his CD’s have given me an immense amount of pleasure over the last few years.

    Like many, I stumbled across Mitch’s humor quite by accident after flicking on Comedy Central and it took me all of ten seconds to realize that he was a very special comedy talent. He always looked like such a nice guy too. I bet his friends and family miss him like crazy. I bet they’re immensely proud of him too. Aw Mitch, God bless.

  • Bob

    fuck you