Mitch Hedberg has been gone for over eleven years, but his absurdist one-liners are as hilarious as they’ve ever been. He’s become one of those rare comedy legends who attracts new fans every year, and often with the sense that they’re discovering something secret and obscure and personal. He’s like the Neutral Milk Hotel of the comedy world, or any number of other cult musicians or artists whose fans are especially passionate. Beyond his evergreen jokes, that personal connection with his audience is one of the main reasons he still resonates so powerfully today. If his long hair, sunglasses and distinct delivery were an attempt at putting distance between him and the audience, it all failed mightily, as it only drew them in closer. I was fortunate enough to interview Hedberg twice during his career, and he remains one of the most honest, gracious and generous people I’ve ever interviewed, going well past the scheduled time talking about music, comedy and life while he was driving from one show to the next. Those conversations confirmed for me what his fans already guessed: he might have had an unusual and unique style, but he wasn’t playing a character on stage.
Hedberg released two albums during his lifetime, with a third coming out three years after his death. All are mandatory listening for comedy fans—and relistening, and listening again, and then relistening once more after that, in a cycle that you will probably never grow tired of. Hedberg’s jokes are so short, so punchy, so perfectly crafted and delivered that they feel more like favorite songs than stand-up comedy. And now, in a move that perfectly fits Hedberg’s stoner metal vibe (dude loved Monster Magnet), all three albums have been reissued on vinyl in a gorgeous box set from Comedy Central Records. The limited edition four LP set includes his three albums, a USB drive full of MP3s and an uncut version of Hedberg’s 1999 Comedy Central special, and a beautiful oversized book with writing from Mike Birbiglia, Doug Stanhope, Margaret Cho and Hedberg’s widow, Lynn Shawcroft. Whether you’re a diehard Mitch fan looking to supplement out your CDs or MP3s with something more substantial, or just somebody who loves comedy and wants to know why Hedberg is so venerated today, Mitch Hedberg: The Complete Vinyl Collection is basically a must-own. Check it out below in all its splendor, and look for it at Amazon and other record dealers.