When several comedians convened in November 2016 to pay tribute to the late great Mitch Hedberg, his widow, Lynn Shawcroft, hinted there would be more to come from his estate — even more than the Comedy Central Records limited-edition box set they unveiled that night.
Now Shawcroft is backing up that promise.
In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Shawcroft revealed she had kept and/or found enough footage for both a concert film as well as a documentary narrated by Hedberg himself. Plus “boxes of microtapes of him practicing and perfecting his material — material that’s never been heard.”
From her THR column:
When Mitch died, it sent guilt, shame, grief, regret and fear coursing through my body every second of every day. I have no idea how I survived it. Almost overnight, I became an obsessive hoarder. I was terrified of throwing anything away in case it held a remnant of Mitch and his existence. Old magazines, gum wrappers, withered receipts — I kept it all, because in some way it all connected me to Mitch. The good news, though, is that along with the garbage, I also hoarded every single bit of Mitch’s writings and recordings. I kept everything, and everything is a lot.
Mitch was constantly jotting ideas onto paper. I have boxes and boxes of his notebooks, envelopes stuffed with hotel pads and scribbled-on napkins. I even found an airplane barf bag covered with notes. When he wasn’t writing, he was talking into a microcassette recorder, so I also have boxes of microtapes of him practicing and perfecting his material — material that’s never been heard. And then there’s the footage. Mitch and I shot four of his shows on 16mm. That’s enough for a brand-new concert film. And there’s other film Mitch shot himself, with his voiceover. Enough for a documentary. A documentary that he could narrate himself!
I kept all the film and tapes and notes in three big iron safes in a cabin we had in the mountains. But about eight months ago, I took it all out of the safes and brought it back to L.A. I found an office in a production company and I’ve been digitizing everything ever since. I’m almost done, too, so that everything Mitch left behind, every half-written joke, every spontaneous utterance onto microtape, will be accessible with a few clicks on a mouse. What I’m going to do with that incredible comedy legacy is something I’m still thinking about. I’ve been approached by directors who ask me to hand over everything. But I can’t do that. Whatever I do, I’ve got to do myself.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, but I think I’m finally ready to become a better widow. And that means at some point soon, all of you will be hearing and seeing Mitch again. And I’m betting he’ll still make you look at the world in a slightly different way.
I, for one, cannot wait.