Mitch Hedberg fans, in fact all comedy fans, clear your afternoon. SiriusXM is airing a brand new over-two-hour special programming event on Monday, October 31, honoring Mitch Hedberg and his career. You know his brilliant comedy, and the tragic circumstances of his death, but how much do you know about Hedberg offstage– how he worked, what he was like around friends and how he affected lives around him?
On Monday, SiriusXM’s Comedy Central channel will present a three-part Mitch Hedberg special that begins with an outstanding documentary, Mitch Hedberg: A Life in Comedy. A part of the Life in Comedy series (that has covered Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, and George Carlin so far), the audio doc collects stories and memories from Hedberg’s inner circle, and from the comedians who were inspired by his art. We were thrilled to get to hear a preview of the show, and it’s must-listen whether you’re already a fan of Mitch’s or just interested in comedy history. You get to hear from some of Mitch’s closest friends, as well as comics who knew him casually or were inspired by him. Tom Rhodes, Tammy Pescatelli, Dave Attell, Todd Glass and Margaret Cho all knew Hedberg well and share memories and great stories. Doug Benson, Greg Stone and Liz Miele explain what it was about Mitch that has made his work so unforgettable. You also get to hear from SiriusXM’s head of comedy, Jack Vaughn, who can say that Mitch literally changed his life, and changed comedy; Zoe Friedman who booked comedy acts for Letterman talks about working closely with Mitch throughout his relationship with the show; Mark Flanagan talks about the impact Hedberg had on the Largo scene in Los Angeles and Brendon Small shares stories about getting to know Mitch while working on Home Movies for IFC.
The doc opens with great quotes from Attell, describing Mitch as “always low key, not much eye contact, self-effacing, easy going,” and at the same time, also incredibly charismatic. “All the girls wanted to take care of him. And when it came time to party he was like a one man shore leave,” he says. Margaret Cho describes Mitch as “brilliant” saying “He will always be a perennial. He’s an evergreen. Everybody loves Mitch,” and you’ll hear Todd Glass explain how Hedberg crosses through time barriers in a way that’s rare for comedians. “It would have fit today, it would have fit 20 years from now because it’s just his really cool- his brilliant observations that are just so beautifully crafted and sometimes silly, sometimes poignant.” The hour is hosted by SiriusXM comedy great Ron Bennington who takes the various stories and ties them all together adding some phenomenal insight about Mitch’s career.
Following the audio documentary, listen to Bennington sit down with Hedberg’s wife, Lynn Shawcroft for an hour, as they talk candidly about Mitch’s childhood, how she met him, how Hedberg worked, the notebooks and tapes he left behind, and his incredible legacy, which Shawcroft is now in charge of. It’s a must-listen hour. Lynn is such a vibrant personality- one part rock and roll and two parts comedy- and she’s all heart as she speaks openly, with no pretense about her life with Mitch.
Finally, after the documentary and the hour with Shawcroft, SiriusXM offers an exclusive world premiere of a Hedberg performance that has never been played publicly. The recording was meant for Hedberg’s internal use only- the kind of recording comedians make when they’re working on material, and it’s a very cool thing to get to hear. First of all you can’t really hear the audience, you’re completely focused on Hedberg himself because the recording was not meant to be aired. But he also wasn’t connecting with the audience, and that’s something you’re not used to hearing when you listen to Hedberg. It’s fascinating to listen to and the kind of recording you almost never get to hear, especially from your comedy heroes. He taped it while opening for the Neville Brothers on February 11, 1995 and at one moment reminds the audience, “I’m not one of the Neville Brothers.”
The three-part Mitch Hedberg event debuts exclusively on SiriusXM’s Comedy Central channel at 3pm on Monday, October 31, and will re-air on SiriusXM’s Comedy Greats channel at 6pm. Too busy eating candy on Halloween? You’ll have the chance to hear it again on Comedy Greats on Tuesday, November 1 at 10am and 8pm, and Friday, November 30th at 3pm and 9pm.
Also, beginning this Friday, November 4th, you will be able to purchase the brand new box set, Mitch Hedberg: The Complete Vinyl Collection which contains his three albums on vinyl, a USB drive holding the digital versions, a book with writings from Shawcroft, Margaret Cho, Mike Birbiglia and Doug Stanhope, and a ton of other great recordings and photos- it’s a huge set and a beautiful collectors item. You’ll be able to buy it on Amazon and in stores.
Hedberg has been gone for over a decade- 11 years and 8 months to be more exact- but his comedy is still not only relevant- it’s pretty damn brilliant. His work and his art changed comedy in more ways than we can count. Make sure you check out the Mitch Hedberg special- it’s a must-listen, not just for Hedberg fans, but for any comedy fan.