Hereís another short one, but damn, I really need to find the tape and post the full transcript, Ďcause Mitch and I talked for about an hour and a half, and he told lots of great stories and was real friendly and all that jazz. Anyway, for what itís worth, here are some words with Mitch Hedberg.
Iíve left in my original introduction to the piece, because it does an adequate job of explaining Mitch Hedberg to people who arenít familiar with him. Mr. Hedberg is easily one of the best, and most original, comedians of the past ten years. A lot of people know him by one of his most famous jokes: "This shirt is dry clean only, which means, itís dirty." Classic.
Having said all that, let it be known that Mitch Hedberg is funny. Really fucking funny. Funny enough to become David Lettermanís favorite new comedian after five appearances. Hedbergís style is part laid back, Spicoli-esque stoner, part surreal wordsmith, throwing out absurd one liners that recall Steven Wright.
But comparisons donít suit Hedberg well (about the Wright comparison, he has this to say: "If I made potato chips and put them in a can, people would say I was ripping off Pringles. But what if I put them in a can?"), so weíll let him try for himself to give you a sense of his humor."
DS: Is Mitch there?
MH: This is Mitch.
DS: Mitch, this is Ryan from "Punchline" in Richmond, VA. Are you set to do an interview?
MH: Could you maybe call me back in like ten minutes, so I can make some coffee?
DS: Right on.
Ö ten minutes later Ö
DS: The title of your CD is "Strategic Grill Locations." What the dilly-yo?
MH: Itís a line from one of my jokes. I was a short order cook before I did comedy, and I would put a hot dog on a grill, and the manager would come over and say, "Put the hot dog in the right hand corner of the grill, so if you get a lot of orders, youíll have all this space available." Thatís how I knew he wasnít a dreamer, because the day you give up your dreams is the day you have strategic grill locations.
DS: Thereís no editing on the disc. Itís just a straight sixty minutes of comedy, with all the good left in.
MH: Yeah. Well, I thought I would edit it down but then decided, fuck it. Because, A) in order to edit it, you actually have to do something, and B) it keeps the experience of the actual show. When people see me on Letterman or HBO, itís just five minutes of jokes I know are going to work, so I thought it would be nice to have that didnít work, to have some smaller jokes, too.
DS: Iíve had trouble trying to explain your comedy.
MH: Yeah, me too.
DS: If someone put a gun to your head, how would you explain it?
MH: I used to call it low-key, but I donít say that anymore. I donít know. Itís just observations from this life. People tell me sometimes that theyíll try and tell me jokes to someone whoís never heard me, and they end up with a bad impression of me. Sometimes I have a bass player on stage with me and do jokes over a bass rhythm, and people think Iím like a jazz comic, but I donít want people to think Iím trying to do some beatnik bullshit.
DS: You put the CD out yourself, on your own label.
MH: Yeah. Well, I was looking for a label, but couldnít find one, so I just put it out myself. There was enough of a demand for one, and plus when you sell it one your own, you keep the profits, so I donít mind having it on a real label. I like just doing things myself. My manager was worried it would end up in a bargain bin somewhere. Some cat from DreamWorks came out to see my show the other night, but he must not have fallen in love with me because he didnít offer me a contract or anything.
DS: You also made your own independent film, "Los Enchilades," and it got in to last yearís Sundance Film Festival, but there are no plans for a release?
MH: Well, it just doesnít get as much of a response laughter wise as much as my comedy does. It gets a mild reaction, so now I donít know if I want people to see it. I mean, Iíd love to have it sit in the corner of a video store, just sit there quietly. But people think itís going to be like my stand-up, and itís not. I donít know if Iwant to fuck with their impression of me. I mean, I wrote it, I directed it, and I act in it, but I donít know. I mean, it played alongside "The Blair Witch Project," so that shows you the two directions movies can go. Or at Sundance, they tried to compare my film to "Clerks" which is bullshit. I mean, Iím glad that guy has a good career, but I donít think that Kevin Smithís sense of humor is my sense of humor. I like funny without all that cynical, pop culture stuff. So I was more influenced by, like . . . uhhhh . . . I donít know. Like those old Bill Murray movies when he had longer hair and would wear a Hawaiian shirt?
DS: Like "Meatballs"?