Mitch“I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too.”

Three years ago, almost to the hour, legendary comedian Mitch Hedberg was found dead of “multiple drug toxicity” including heroin and cocaine, in his New Jersey hotel room. Now, this may seem like a strange thing for me to write about. But every time I play one of my Hedberg recordings, I find myself feeling very sad about the fact that he checked out so soon, and this may be a way of introducing some people to him posthumously.

It’s tempting to say that Hedberg’s act is simply what happens when you give a stoner a microphone. But the truth is that Hedberg was nothing short of a comic genius.

”Young comedians are always trying to ape someone else,” says Conan O’Brien. ”Even when they’re good you can always tell where their influence was. ‘This guy is doing a Seinfeld with a twist.’ ‘That guy is doing Sam Kinison toned down a notch.’ And then you see someone like Mitch, and it’s like his brain was put in backwards.”

That’s a good way to put it. His humour was so odd and yet so simple that it was an impossibly original routine. Unlike most comics, Hedberg didn’t do politics, or news, or sex, or celebrities, or pop culture, or the kind of humour which mocks people (not that there’s anything wrong with any of that). Wikipedia says this:

“[Hedberg was] known for his surreal humor and unconventional comedic delivery. His routines featured elocutive but often short, sometimes one-line, observational comedy, mixed with absurd and paraprosdokian elements as well as non sequiturs.”

Almost every line of his routine could be a punchline. He noticed strange details in language and in life and found them funny. After he died, his wife opened up one of his journals and immediately saw the line, “Do you believe in Gosh?” It’s simple, but brilliant, and nobody else ever wrote it. That was Hedberg’s unique gift.

Now to let him speak for himself.

To read more Hedberg jokes, see his Wikiquote page here.