If ever there was a golden era to enjoy comedy, it’s now, a moment when comedians and those who love their work have heartily exploited nearly every form of media newly generated by the internet. At times I wonder if the medium of podcasting doesn’t owe its very existence to those funny men and women — the earliest high-profile example being Ricky Gervais, collectively with his writing partner Stephen Merchant and oracle/object of ridicule Karl Pilkington — who immediately understood its potential. Some comedians podcast so well that you’d almost believe they had just been waiting for the technology to arrive. Alas, it arrived in the mid-2000s, too late for Mitch Hedberg to make use of it. Though we’ll never know how or if Hedberg, who died in 2005, would have podcast, we can at least still call up his comedic spirit at a moment’s notice through the miracle of internet video.
Though Hedberg has gone, his fans’ interest in his unconventional persona, sensibility, and delivery haven’t. A new documentary web series called Modern Comedian has even put out a whole episode dedicated to him, based upon an interview with his widow Lynn Shawcroft. She describes Hedberg as “a huge proponent of daydreaming,” which seems only to begin to describe his way of life and work. If you missed out on Hedberg during his life, don’t miss out on him during this wave of posthumous popularity. Just above, you’ll find embedded a five-minute stand-up set that should give you a glimpse of the distinctive angles from which Hedberg viewed existence. And the next time a whole bunch of internet comedy enthusiasts insist that you simply must check out a strange young rising talent, certainly don’t make the same mistake I did eight years ago and tell yourself you can always catch him later.
“Learn English With Ricky Gervais,” A New Podcast Debuts (NSFW)
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.
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