FUNNY FLASHBACK: MITCH HEDBERG

11 May

If there’s one thing I love as much as music, it’s comedy. And my family. And cookies, too. So that’s three things …

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview some of my favorite comedians, and since I started a blog … I figure I can stick the ancient transcripts on here for the sake of posterity.

Here’s an edited version of a 2000 phone chat I had with the sadly departed Mitch Hedberg.

Is Mitch there?

This is Mitch.

Mitch, this is Ryan from “Punchline” in Richmond, VA. Are you set to do an interview?

Could you maybe call me back in like ten minutes, so I can make some coffee?

Right on.

… ten minutes later …

The title of your CD is “Strategic Grill Locations.” What the dilly-yo?

It’s 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, you’ll have all this space available.” That’s how I knew he wasn’t a dreamer, because the day you give up your dreams is the day you have strategic grill locations.

There’s no editing on the disc. It’s just a straight sixty minutes of comedy, with all the goofs left in.

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, it’s just five minutes of jokes I know are going to work, so I thought it would be nice to have that didn’t work, to have some smaller jokes, too.

I’ve had trouble trying to explain your comedy.

Yeah, me too.

If someone put a gun to your head, how would you explain it?

I used to call it low-key, but I don’t say that anymore. I don’t know. It’s just observations from this life. People tell me sometimes that they’ll try and tell me jokes to someone who’s 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 I’m like a jazz comic, but I don’t want people to think I’m trying to do some beatnik bullshit.

You put the CD out yourself, on your own label.

Yeah. Well, I was looking for a label, but couldn’t 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 don’t 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 didn’t offer me a contract or anything.

You also made your own independent film, “Los Enchilades,” and it got in to last year’s Sundance Film Festival, but there are no plans for a release?

Well, it just doesn’t get as much of a response laughter wise as much as my comedy does. It gets a mild reaction, so now I don’t know if I want people to see it. I mean, I’d love to have it sit in the corner of a video store, just sit there quietly. But people think it’s going to be like my stand-up, and it’s not. I don’t 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 don’t 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, I’m glad that guy has a good career, but I don’t think that Kevin Smith’s 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 don’t know. Like those old Bill Murray movies when he had longer hair and would wear a Hawaiian shirt?

Like “Meatballs”?

Exactly!

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