Mitch Hedberg

Mitch Hedberg might epitomize the boy-man who refuses to grow up. He’s not going to toil away at something that smacks of routine or encroaches on his sense of wonder from what he loves to do most, standup.

This might explain why Fox TV couldn’t shoehorn him into a sitcom after seeing him in Montreal, even though the deal was made on terms suitable to both parties.

“The Fox people were real sweet and treated me well, but we just never got a writer that knew what to do with me, and I never knew what to do with myself,” admits the Southern California transplant by way of South Florida. It might have more to do with the networks trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

With a perpetually lazy, stoner’s drawl, which finds him often dropping the last consonant to words that seem to trail off in the ether, Hedberg finds humor in the every day (“My sister wanted to be an actress. She never made it but she does live in a trailer. She got halfway. …”). He’s also a master at deconstructing language (“I haven’t slept for 10 days, ’cause that would be too long.”).

Hedberg doesn’t so much live in any one city (he hangs his hat in Running Springs, Calif., just outside of Big Bear) as he does on the club circuit. Like Bob Dylan, he’s constantly on the road, and he never tires of it.

“I love being on the road,” he says. “Sure, it’s grueling — too many nights in one town. But I just can’t get enough of the free hotel rooms.”

In this age of performers using comedy as a steppingstone to a Hollywood career, it would be easy to peg Hedberg as some sort of comic slacker. But here’s a guy who’s appeared on Letterman six times, has had his own half-hour special on Comedy Central, was a grand prize winner at the 1997 Seattle Comedy Competition, and has been recognized by Time magazine as one of the next generation of comedy stars.

He also wrote, directed and starred in his own independent feature, “Los Enchiladas!,” which premiered at the Sundance film Festival. He says of the experience: “You get a taste for it and you want to keep doing it, but the only thing that stops you is money. I think I’d have more fun directing than acting anyway.”

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