On this day in 2005 the world of comedy lost one of its best and brightest; born with a congenital heart defect - as well as being a recreational drug user - a New Jersey coroner nevertheless ruled his cause of death as being due to 'multiple drug toxicity'. It seems unlikely his death was a suicide, and indeed his condition may have been exacerbated by his habit one time too many.
Hedberg's standup was different from the rest, mainly due to its having been performed despite crippling stage fright. He often wore sunglasses onstage, and even then refrained from looking at the audience as he bombarded them with some of the most whimsical material out there - a cross between Steven Wright and Emo Philips. His act was also considerably more self-aware than usual; when a joke bombed he would acknowledge it, and rather than skating over an instance of bad delivery or timing, he'd make a joke of it instead, and repeat it until it got the desired effect. Overall, the effect of Mitch Hedberg's persona was lovability, and indeed he is fondly remembered by colleagues such as Dave Attell.
Hedberg is survived by his fellow comedian Lynn Shawcroft, whom he married in February 1999; his website remains active as a tribute to him. At the time of his death Hedberg was 37.
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