Mitch Hedberg Obituary

August 21, 2009

I wrote this ages ago, for my speech class. It is, supposedly, a touching obituary from the point of view of Hedberg’s wife, Lynn Shawcroft. My teacher, Mr. Hosbond, gave me (almost) full marks, commenting afterwards that “THAT is how obituaries are supposed to be, guys”. Now that I’m done inflating my ego, here’s the speech:

Mitchell Hedberg was the most fascinating and hilarious man that I have ever met. We were married for six years before the incident. I remember everything about that day. I had just gotten home from an moderately successful day of work and I was worrying about the casserole I had stuck in the oven for the dinner party I was about to have. The phone rang, and I scrambled towards it while attempting to take off my heels at the same time.

“Hello?” I had said, in an exasperated tone, while peering in the oven. The man on the other line told me that he was “sorry, Mrs. Shawcroft, but your husband was found, dead, at approximately five-thirty” on that day, March 25th of 2005. He began to list off various steps I should take and numbers I should call for assistance. I just stood there, mouth slightly agape, unfocused and unintentionally gazing at the heat waves that the oven emitted, imagining his glassy eyes staring at the ceiling of his hotel room in New Jersey, where he was scheduled for a show. That image is still stuck in my head after two weeks.

I still can’t believe that I was worried about something as minimal as a slightly overcooked casserole when death was on its way.

It’s been two weeks and yet it seems forever. Or, just a split second since Mitch passed away. I miss him. I’m devasted. I can’t imagine how we have survived this so far. I don’t really know if I will.

He was only thirty-seven. The official cause was “multiple drug toxicity”, in the form of cocaine and heroin “speedball”. It wasn’t suicide, so don’t automatically think that. Mitch loved life. The way in which he died shouldn’t be too surprising for everyone, even though his actual death came as a complete shock. We all knew he did drugs: one of his favorite one-liners in his stand up routine was “I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too”. He also referenced his experimentation with different drugs in various jokes, like, “When I was on acid, I’d see things like beams of light and I’d hear sounds that sounded an awful lot like car horns.”

Mitch was known for his unusual stage presence and manner of speaking. His presence was abnormal partially because of his glossophobia; Mitch would often deliver his lines with his eyes closed, or behind sunglasses.

He was always making everyone laugh, even when he wasn’t on stage he had the funniest way of saying something completely obvious. One night, after we had eaten rice, he proclaimed, “I like rice. Rice is great when you’re hungry and want, like, two thousand of something”. Mitch drew many of his jokes from his various everyday experiences, and was able to produce two CDs by the end of his life: Strategic Grill Locations and Mitch All Together, with a third recorded (“Do You Believe in Gosh?”) but not quite finished. He first started in his comedy carrer in 1996, performing at the prestigious Just for Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival, which aired on Comedy Central. Since then he had appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman 10 times, and toured internationally.

Everything around me is touched by him. How often do you find that moments and situations will draw you to one of his jokes? I hear his voice in my mind and he never stops inspiring me.

I want to thank the fans for receiving him the way you do. Let’s never let him go…

I promise to honour Mitch’s leagacy with the vision he had; the vision he shared with me. I’m going to work on sharing the things that I have to keep his comedy alive. Rest in peace, Mitch. We’ll never forget you.


2 Responses to “Mitch Hedberg Obituary”

  1. ian douglas Says:

    While the details of Lynn/Mitch and his death are inaccurate (she was with him at the hotel), I have to say that this piece is certainly well written!!

  2. Oh, I didn’t know that. I didn’t research as much as I should have, I guess.
    And thanks! (:

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