04 September 2008

ah, chuck's bringing it down...

I almost hope this is a sign that he's going to be the 2Pac of comedy...

I didn't know anything about Mitch Hedberg until a little over a year ago, when Comedy Central started to make its "Comedy Central Presents..." standup series available for download over XBox Live. My best friend loves his comedy, and when he found out that I hadn't ever heard anyone enumerate the differences between Smokey the Bear and Smackey the Frog, well, we lost a good half an hour almost instantly.

To be perfectly honest, I fell in love with him instantly. Hedberg was, and probably still is, the anti-Dane Cook. I don't just mean that Hedberg was funny, unlike the "Vicious Cycle" Cook (who, to his credit, was at least tolerable in Dan In Real Life), but that he was authentic. Hedberg didn't have a single shred of pretense about him; the guy you saw on stage, I still contend, was probably a lot like the guy you'd have wanted to sit around and bullshit with. His jokes, ridiculous, inane and simple though they might've been, came from a real and honest place. When he said, "I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long," you could tell, at a very basic level, that he told that joke because he believed in it. He wasn't trying to play this guy, this "Mitch Hedberg" in his act; he was a shy, nervous, thoughtful guy who told jokes. Incredible jokes.

Strategic Grill Locations, I believe, is a significantly better album than the one that followed it, Mitch All Together. The reason is simple, because it's one I've already stated before: it's far more honest. He's a nervous wreck in the first album, and he does a poor job of masking it. Like many people, Hedberg turned to self-deprecation as a way to mask embarassment; like with all of those people, the tactic is transparent.

He made a running gag out of threatening to edit his audience's laughter, to make a whole "joke of unfunny jokes," as he put it. With most comics, such an admission would probably only have served to undermine the immediacy of stand-up; the form depends on the link between the performer and the audience. There is nothing else to stand-up, that's why it's pure. Altering the record of the event in any way would weaken it, even if it were impossible to tell. I think Hedberg understood that, which is why his jokes about damaging the record of his concert went over well.

The anticipation may well drive me crazy; the prospect of new-to-me Hedberg jokes is almost more than I'm able to bear. I suppose this means I should have some sort of response to it ready to go shortly after its release. I'll do my best.

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