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Television and Radio: One Date at a Time

Comic Hedburg has built his reputation relentlessly

By P.F. Wilson · November 17th, 2004 · Television and Radio
Mitch Hedburg is co-headlining at Bogart's.
Mark Matson

Mitch Hedburg is co-headlining at Bogart's.

Comic Mitch Hedburg has built a successful career primarily through relentless touring. He spoke to CityBeat from his home in Hollywood, Fla.

CityBeat: How did you get into stand-up comedy?

Mitch Hedburg: It's an answer I try to make creative, because it's really kind of simple. One day, not knowing what I'm doing; the next day, doing a comedy show as a fluke, because my friend was; and the next day after that, deciding that's what I'm going to do forever.

CB: So you just tagged along with your buddy?

MH: Exactly. He wasn't funny. I'm not saying I was. But he was really unfunny, and it blew my mind that he was doing stand-up. It was very reassuring to realize that open mics were not full of really funny people.

CB: Are you interested in politics, or just funny observations in general?

MH: I'm interested in politics as far as discussing it, but really not interested in making people laugh about politics, because I think that takes too much knowledge of the genre, and I don't have that knowledge.

I don't want to make a fool of myself and have someone stand up and say "first of all, you're completely fuckin' wrong ..."

CB: You've built a solid career the old-fashioned way, by touring.

MH: I'm an over-decade-success. I've been doing this for a long time. Just going out and keep going to towns over and over does work. People see you, and word-of-mouth works and their friends come the next time. But it's a slow process.

CB: Do comics get locked into a particular style, and have to trade jokes or bit ideas?

MH: I'm not one to give stuff to other comics, simply because when other comics give stuff to me I don't like doing it. I don't want people to watch me and then have somebody say to their friend "Hey, I wrote that joke." On the other hand, I think people do get locked into their act. Sometimes something I might come up with might be out of my normal realm, and I'm a little afraid to do it because it might involve changing my voice, or something like that.

CB: Do you desire a career beyond stand-up?

MH: I want a full-time, long career in stand-up, like in the George Carlin era. But variety is a good thing. I just have to find the right thing. When the right thing comes it'll bonk me on the head.

CB: You're co-headlining with Steven Lynch. How is that arrangement working out?

MH: I think both spots are great spots. Sometimes the crowd is rowdy, so the second spot can be a little bit more hairy. The only problem is the crowd doesn't understand "co-headlining." They think the guy going on last is the headliner. People come up to me and say, "I saw you open for Lynch, man. You should headline." They're not saying it as anything bad -- but I tell them, "No, I was headlining, we're co-headlining." Other than that either spot is good.

CB: You're a big fan of hotels. What makes for a great stay?

MH: A combination of things -- 24-hour room service. I don't want the 11-7 to be pre-made sandwiches. I want stuff off the grill. Laundry is a good thing. I like vending machines that have cans. Dark curtains. Dark curtains are important for anyone that doesn't live on the same schedules as the rest of the country. Wouldn't you think that would be the first thing they would think of? A good pre-pay movie service is good too.

CB: You could do a show on the Travel Channel -- Mitch Hedburg's Hotel Travels.

MH: That's great idea. If I do it, I'll throw you in as executive producer. But I can't wait (to come to Cincinnati) -- I love Cincinnati, man.

MITCH HEDBURG appears at Bogart's on Saturday evening.


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