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Mitch Hedberg

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Mitch Hedberg
Birth nameMitchell Lee Hedberg
Born(1968-02-24)February 24, 1968
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedMarch 30, 2005(2005-03-30) (aged 37)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Years active1989–2005
Lynn Shawcroft
(m. 1999)
Notable works and rolesStrategic Grill Locations
Mitch All Together
Do You Believe in Gosh?

Mitchell Lee Hedberg (February 24, 1968 – March 30, 2005)[2] was an American stand-up comedian known for his surreal humor and deadpan delivery.[3] His comedy typically featured short, sometimes one-line jokes[4] mixed with absurd elements and non sequiturs.[5]

Hedberg's comedy and onstage persona gained him a cult following,[6] with audience members sometimes shouting out the punchlines to his jokes before he could finish them.[7]

Early life[edit]

Hedberg was born on February 24, 1968, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Arne and Mary (née Schimscha, 1943–2012) Hedberg.[8][9] He was of Finnish-Swedish (from his paternal grandparents), Czech, and German descent. Hedberg attended Harding High School in Saint Paul.[citation needed] Hedberg said he was a good student, and often ahead of the rest of the class, but got bored and lost interest around 10th grade, when he started cutting classes. He struggled to graduate from high school, and did not attend college.[10]


Hedberg began his stand-up career in Florida, and after a period of honing his skills, he moved to Seattle and began to tour. He soon appeared on MTV's Comikaze, followed by a 1996 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman that brought him his big break.[11] He won the 1997 grand prize at the Seattle Comedy Competition. The next year he appeared in an episode of Fox's series That '70s Show.

In 1999, he completed his own independent feature film, Los Enchiladas!, which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in.[11][12] He recorded three comedy albums: Strategic Grill Locations, Mitch All Together, and Do You Believe in Gosh?, the last released posthumously. He performed at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal three times: in 1998, 2001, and 2004.

Concurrent with his rising fame in the entertainment industry, Hedberg appeared on Letterman nine more times, signed a half-million-dollar deal with Fox for a television sitcom, and was dubbed "the next Seinfeld" by Time magazine.[13] George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Mike Birbiglia, Norm MacDonald and Lewis Black were among his comedian fans.[7][14] Comedians Anthony Jeselnik, Bo Burnham and Ron Funches have listed Hedberg as an influence.[15][16][17]


Hedberg's stand-up comedy was distinguished by the unique manner of speech he adopted later in his career, his abrupt delivery, and his unusual stage presence. His act usually consisted of compact one- or two-liners and longer routines, often with each line as a punchline.

Hedberg occasionally added disclaimers to the end of a joke if it was not sufficiently well received, frequently variations on "that joke's dumb, I'm aware of that." During recordings for CDs, he would often say that he would find a way to edit a failed gag to make it seem well-received, for example by "adding laughter" to a failed joke containing arithmetic. Following such a failure on Strategic Grill Locations, Hedberg suggested, "All right... that joke is going to be good because I'm going to take all the words out and add new words. That joke will be fixed."[18]

Comedy Central Records released an album, Do You Believe in Gosh? on September 9, 2008, that contained material Hedberg recorded at The Improv in Ontario, California, in January 2005. His wife, Lynn, wrote in the introduction that the performance had been in preparation for a year-end CD recording.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Hedberg was married to Canadian comedian Lynn Shawcroft from 1999 until his death in 2005.[2][20]

Hedberg was a frequent recreational drug user, mentioning it in some of his jokes (e.g., "I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too"). He was interviewed by Jonathan Davis in the December 2001 issue of Penthouse. In the interview, published three years before his death, he was asked, "If you could choose, how would you end your life?" He replied, "First, I'd want to get famous, and then I'd overdose. If I overdosed at this stage in my career, I would be lucky if it made the back pages."[21][22] On June 23, 2003, he was arrested in Austin, Texas, for heroin possession.[23] On October 12, 2004, Hedberg sat in on the news with Robin Quivers on The Howard Stern Show. He appeared on the show again on March 17, 2005, this time with Quivers and Artie Lange present, and briefly discussed his drug use, saying: "Well, you know, I got the drugs under control now." Stern asked, "Do you? You know how to take them responsibly?" Hedberg replied, "Yeah, you know, just for the creative side of it."


On March 30, 2005, Hedberg was found dead in his room at The Westminster Hotel in Livingston, New Jersey.[1] His death was announced by Howard Stern on March 31 but was largely overlooked. As a result, some people thought it was announced on April 1, and fans believed it was an April Fools' Day joke.[24]

His death was initially believed to be the result of a congenital heart defect,[25] but in December 2005, the New Jersey Medical Examiner's office reported that he died accidentally as the result of "multiple drug toxicity", including cocaine and heroin.[1]

Hedberg's funeral was held at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Woodbury, Minnesota.[26]


Mitch Hedberg discography
Year Title Label Formats
1999 Strategic Grill Locations Comedy Central Records CD (self-released), CD (2003/2010), 2xLP (2017)
2003 Mitch All Together Comedy Central Records CD/DVD, LP (2017)
2008 Do You Believe in Gosh? Comedy Central Records[27] CD, LP (2016)
2016 The Complete Vinyl Collection Comedy Central Records 4×LP


Mitch Hedberg film work
Year Title Role Notes
1999 Los Enchiladas! Lee Writer/Director
2000 Almost Famous Eagles Road Manager
2005 Lords of Dogtown Urethane Wheels Guy Posthumous release

Television appearances[edit]

Mitch Hedberg television work
Year Title Role/Info
1995 Comedy Product Himself[28]
1998 That '70s Show Episode 11, as Frank (Chef at the Hub)
Premium Blend Episode dated May 23, 1998 as Himself
Late Show with David Letterman Himself (2 episodes)
1999 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Episode 67 "Past Lives" and Episode 73 "Garden", both as Himself
Comedy Central Presents Himself
Late Show with David Letterman Himself (2 episodes)
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn Himself
Home Movies Episodes 4 and 5 as The Pet Eulogist and Mitch, respectively
2000 Late Show with David Letterman Himself
2001 Ed Episode 110 as Dave
Just for Laughs in Montreal Himself
Late Friday Himself
Home Movies Episodes 12 and 13 as Cop and Dr. Fizzel (Anger Management Counselor), respectively
Late Show with David Letterman Himself (2 episodes)
2002 Saddle Rash Various voices
Late Show with David Letterman Himself
2003 Late Show with David Letterman Himself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself
Crank Yankers Himself
2004 Shorties Watchin' Shorties Episodes 4 and 9 as Himself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself


  1. ^ a b c "Report: Mitch Hedberg died of drug overdose". Today. December 27, 2005. Retrieved December 23, 2018 – via The Associated Press.
  2. ^ a b "Mitch Hedberg". Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  3. ^ Shakespeare, J. C. (February 19, 1999). "Dude, It's Mitch Hedberg!". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  4. ^ "Mitch Hedberg". Comedy Central. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  5. ^ "Mitch Hedberg, 37, Dies; Offbeat Stand-Up Comedian". The Washington Post. April 4, 2005. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  6. ^ Kolowich, Steve (April 1, 2005). "Cult comedian Mitch Hedberg dies on tour". The Bowdoin Orient. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Fierman, Daniel (July 8, 2005). "The rise and fall of comedy's Kurt Cobain". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "To All of Mitch's Fans". Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  9. ^ "Mary A. Hedberg". Pioneer Press. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Hedberg, Mitch. "Diamonds in the Rough" (Interview). Interviewed by Barry J. Farber. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  11. ^ a b Sebesta, Courtney (May 22, 2005). "Bittersweet Showing of Comic's Film". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, TX. p. 107. Retrieved October 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  12. ^ McKinley, Jesse (April 1, 2005). "Mitch Hedberg, a Comedian Who Performed Surreal Routines, Dies at 37". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  13. ^ Anderson, Sam. "Last Laugh". Slate. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  14. ^ I Used to Like Mitch Hedberg., archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved October 9, 2021
  15. ^ https://www.vulture.com/2013/07/talking-to-anthony-jeselnik.html
  16. ^ https://thecomicscomic.com/2010/10/29/bo-burnham-lists-my-favorite-comedians-and-releases-a-confessional-video-art-is-dead/
  17. ^ https://archive.today/20200430224739/https://www.startribune.com/cameo-critic-ron-funches-loves-i-love-lucy/303087201/
  18. ^ Hedberg, Mitch. Strategic Grill Locations (CD).
  19. ^ Shawcroft, Lynn (2008). "liner notes". Do You Believe In Gosh? (Media notes).
  20. ^ Murray, Noel (September 8, 2004). "Interview: Mitch Hedberg". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Davis, Jonathan (December 2001). "Stand-Up Guys". Penthouse. p. 66.
  22. ^ Reine, Matthew (April 4, 2015). "Life and Career of Mitch Hedberg". Culture Crossfire. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  23. ^ Hyman, Peter (January 2006). "Alt Comedy Goes Rock and Roll". Spin. p. 72.
  24. ^ Rusnak, Jeff (April 2, 2005). "Mitch Hedberg, 37, Comedian, Filmmaker". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  25. ^ Brownfield, Paul (April 2, 2005). "Mitch Hedberg, 37; Comedian Was Known for His Offbeat Musings". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, TCA. p. 130. Retrieved October 11, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  26. ^ "Mitch L. Hedberg". Legacy.com. April 1, 2005. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "COMEDY CENTRAL Records(R) to Release New Mitch Hedberg CD 'Do You Believe in Gosh?'". Reuters. July 14, 2008. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  28. ^ Hedberg, Mitch (1995). "Mitch Hedberg Early T.V. (1995) stand-up". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2019.

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