Strategic Excerpts

From Mitch's CD

Mitch's CD is available ONLY through his web site (www.mitchhedberg.net). It was recorded at the Houston Laff Stop in September. It's unusual for a "concert CD" in that there is no editing. In stark contrast to the old days, when a comedy album was an amalgam of one or more shows.

George Carlin's On The Road (1977) says in the liner notes that it was "Recorded, sliced and spliced by Biff Dawes." Robin Williams' Grammy- winning reality... what a concept (1979) was taped "live at the Copacabana, New York City and The Boarding House, San Francisco..." according to the credits.

The liner notes from Shelley Berman's Outside even includes a paean to recording engineer Ami Hadani, a "handsome young man with a soft Israeli accent," who was charged with the "endless job of sifting the good tapes from the bad." Berman continues, "On this recording you will hear the audience...the strong laughs and the not so strong and the dull thuds. 'Ami, cut that dull thud.' "

Below are a few samples from Hedberg's CD. Some you might recognize from his five Letterman shots.

Try to imagine each one delivered in Hedberg's quirky, G. Love-meets- Steven Wright style.

"This shirt is 'Dry Clean Only'...which means it's dirty."

"I like to play blackjack...I'm not addicted to gambling; I'm addicted to sitting in a semi-circle."

"I don't want a watch, because I want my arms to weigh the same."

"I drank some boiling water because I wanted to whistle."

"I'm against picketing...but I don't know how to show it."

"I haven't slept for ten days...because that would be too long."


 Your CD, "Strategic Grill Locations," is a performance that you taped at the Houston Laff Stop earlier this year. Any particular reason you chose that club? 
because mark babbitt (laff stop owner) has always been very good to me, his club rocks, and he already has a d.a.t. recorder set up in the room so costs are very low.   We were told that you didn't edit the performance for the CD--that you left in, for lack of a better phrase, a rough patch or two--this is against convention. Why did you do it this way?  i wanted the cd to be exactly what a live show would be, with all the mistakes and lulls included. my act on letterman or kilborne or any other t.v. show is always a short, tight set with nothing but solid jokes delivered at a nice clip. the club show has a lot more slack involved. plus i was too lazy to edit it.  In the Time magazine interview, you are quoted as saying "I don't like to connect with the crowd," he says. "I find if you look at people's faces, you see a disappointed face." Yet your CD contains a fair amount of interaction with the crowd... What gives?  the crowd interaction on the cd is done by a comedian still looking at the floor. you can't completely ignore the folks, but i'm much happier saying what's on my mind without interference.  You're selling your CD exclusively via your website? What went into this decision?  i haven't secured a label deal as of yet. to be honest, the cd wasn't planned. i initially intended to film my stand-up that night for a concert film to be submitted to festivals. but then i got word hbo was gonna do a half-hour special with me. so i kept the date and recorded the cd instead, knowing people would buy it off my web site. the hbo thing has since been cancelled.  Why have you decided to make your home in New York?  i live in a cabin on a mountain in southern california, now. i moved to new york for the immense amount of comedy clubs available to perform at. but i never really locked into the east coast groove. thus the cali relocation.  You wrote and directed a film exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival. Have you always wanted to be a film maker? Would you like to make more movies in the future?  i made a film because i thought i'd be great at telling people what to do. the whole experience was bittersweet, but i want to make more films that's for sure. sundance was a complete fucking surprise. perhaps too much for a guy who has never even made a short film prior to his first feature.  Your film starred, among other people, fellow standup comics Dave Attel and Mark Maron. Do you always plan to feature standup comics in various projects?  i planned on using people i knew whether they were stand-ups or not. i'd use all the people i know if i could. i know so many characters. the stand-ups i did use that you mentioned were all incredible. i'm so grateful they agreed to do it.  Did you pay much attention to standup comedy before becoming a standup yourself?  i watched it when it was on t.v. and maybe saw it live three times. i paid the average amount of attention but not an unusual amount. back then pretty much any comic made me laugh.  Do you intend to do standup regardless of which way your career takes you? fuck yes, stand-up for life! hopefully my career will take me to more stand-up.  You made quite a splash at the Festival in Montreal a couple of years back...What were the immediate benefits of your Montreal experience? Were there any minuses?  the immediate benefit was the ability to relax and know things were gonna be fine for at least a year. as far as the minuses, the days of me being a highly regarded unknown by some were over. to be thought of as great but obscure is very poetic, to be a known comic who's had some breaks is a little less so.  How has life on the road changed now that you've reached this level of success?  basically i can do what i've always done except now club owners will put up with it.  Which clubs supported you early on in your comedy career? Do you still play those venues? Is it up to you?  not that many clubs supported me early on. my first few years of touring rided on the fact that i could always find a new club i haven't been to to make an impression. the club i still play that has always been there for me is the comedy gallery in grand forks, north dakota. chris the manager and tom the booker kept on rebooking me no matter what. i can choose where i want to go, as long as they want me. but now people who were used to me accepting whatever money they offered have to deal with my agents.  We read in an article that you refuse to do jokes about sex or politics...Exactly why is that?  refuse is a strong word i used. don't is better. too many people already cover sex and i would seem inept discussing politics. politics makes my eyelids heavy.  Do you like having friends and/or relatives in the audience during a performance?  as long as they don't sit in the front row and as long as they don't say "i've heard most of that already" after the show.  You've been compared to Steven Wright. Did Mr. Wright have any influence on your work?  i love steven wright but as far as him being an influence, i can't measure that. let me say this....if i made potato chips, and i decided to pack them in a skinny can, people would say i was like pringle's, but what if i packed them in a bag?  You've also been called "the next Jerry Seinfeld," which is code for "a standup comic who will make a boatload of money from a sitcom." Does this kind of talk create pressure to develop a hugely successful, groundbreaking sitcom?  i no longer feel that pressure because i never got in this to have a brilliant sit-com. it's a direction that is almost forced upon you. if it happens, great. but a sit-com idea isn't falling out of the sky. writers don't seem to be able to come up with a solid premise for me. neither can i.  What has been your most rewarding comedy experience to date?  late show with david letterman. five times now. hell yes.  Which comedy experience do you try desperately to forget?  bombing on vh1's 'the list' in the presence of little richard.  According to your bio, a co-worker at a restaurant in Florida convinced you to perform for the first time at an open mike night. Have you kept in contact with this person? If so, how does he view your success?  jeff was his name and i haven't seen or heard from him for nine years. he wasn't a good comic. he stole jokes and tried to act like he thought of them while standing in the kitchen of chili's restaurant.  What do you think you would be doing now, if your colleague hadn't convinced you to perform at the open mike night?  playing music in a band that would have already had their fame come and go. i would have been in the gin blossoms.  How many times will you try out a joke before dropping it from your act?  four times. some are good only in certain rooms. i like to think that all the concepts are good, they just need to be worded properly. so i'll work with them.  Would you ever consider buying material?  not really. i need to be involved in the creating process so it sounds right coming out of my mouth.  What makes Mitch Hedberg happy?  down time with my girl lynnie in my mountain retreat.

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