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Jay Richardson

Published April 9th, 2007 | by Jay Richardson

Mitch Hedberg: Mitch All Together Review

Classification: 15 Director: John Machnik and Dan Schlissel Rating: 4/5

When Mitch Hedberg died in 2005, the US lost one of its most distinctive stand-up comics. With a surreal, observational style and an abrupt speech pattern recalling the Fonz at his most dictatorial, the ironically shy Hedberg, who suffered from stage fright throughout his career, specialised in short, occasionally one-liner humour, much of it characterised by a paraprosdokian wit cloaked in a stoner persona.

Out for the first time in the UK, this Comedy Central DVD/CD compilation was initally released in the US in 2003. Of the two discs, the superior CD is a recording from that year of Hedberg’s performance at the Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis. The DVD consists of his brief appearance in a 1998 episode of Comedy Central’s Premium Blend show, plus two versions of a 1999 Comedy Central special, the 30-minute broadcast and the unedited 45-minute original.

This second and last Hedberg album finds him brilliantly deconstructing his craft. He bemoans the convention of comics being introduced as somebody “you may have seen on Letterman”, as indeed you may have done with him, ten times, reasoning that audiences were much more likely to have seen him in his local convenience store.

More perceptively, he recalls his time in Hollywood with the observation that comedy is the only artform a performer is expected to escape from, to become a screenwriter or an actor.

Alongside more immediately crowd-pleasing material, such as a positivistic view on ‘out of order’ escalators and a novel use for ‘do not disturb’ signs, there’s a gentle, countercultural thread running throughout Hedberg’s set, from confronting society’s fears about AIDS and the blockage of emergency exits, to exposing alcoholism as “the disease you get yelled at for having” and acclaiming acid as his favourite drug.

The television footage is disappointing, but then Hedberg was never the most visual comic and the delight for newcomers is to be found in attuning to his idiosyncratic delivery and whimsical worldview.

This album is one of four new Comedy Central releases, alongside Todd Barry’s Falling Off The Bone and Dane Cook’s Harmful If Swallowed and Retaliation.


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