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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Podcast episode 294ish: Lynn Shawcroft

It's podcast drop day! It's podcast drop day! And if you're a reader (and you should be), you may have been tipped to this week's episode with Lynn Shawcroft. Sure, if you listened on radio or livestream last week, you've heard it already, but let's not spoil it for those who prefer to do their listening via their iPod devices.

New Jersey-based comedy writer Dylan P. Gadino alerted the world that Shawcroft spoke for the first time about the drug use of herslf and her late husband, Mitch Hedberg. It was a heart-wrenching, but ultimately beautiful, conversation about the situation. The transcrip provided was pretty much verbatim. Shawcroft was stopping and starting, going off here and there. It's such a big and difficult subject for someone directly involved that's it's completely understandable. Still, it makes it a tad challenging to follow. At least on the page. Our ears are more attuned to hearing scattered conversation than our eyes are reading it. So below the audio link, I've provided a clean-up version of the same chunk of dialogue that conveys the exact same message.

Don't get the wrong impression, though. This was but a ten-minute chunk in an hour-long chat. We also talked about Lynn's Canadianness, her getting a deal at Just For Laughs early in her stand-up career, and lots less salacious stuff about Hedberg. The conversation was recorded in the roving What's So Funny? studios, aka my car. I should do more there if the results open people up to such riveting conversation.

Gadino also called What's So Funny? the "best kept comedy podcast secret". So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Sure, it's also code for nobody listens to it, but it's phrased so much nicer.

Have a listen to the full episode below or download it onto your respective devices the way you usually do such things. If you don't know how, ask a child. They'll most likely direct you to iTunes. We're there. And leave a rating and/or comment there while you're at it. I'd love to hear from you.

WSF?: He got all this money and that had to be a double-edged sword. He was able to do some things…
Lynn Shawcroft: (laughs) Yes.
WSF?: And then also party too much.
LS: Well, here's the thing. The deal wasn't the double-edged sword. Well, it was a little bit. But, you know, compared to the money we made later on - we were making great money on the road because we were working so much. You can afford to indulge in more expensive hotels - and he wasn't a material person - first class flights, and, you know, drugs and fun and living your life.
WSF?: Yeah. Well, the drugs…
LS: (laughs) 
WSF?: That's what I was getting at. I'm not drug savvy, but even I know heroin's probably not such a good thing.
LS: Well, any opiate isn't because you have to end up taking something every day. I think the word 'heroin' is equal to 'we all know it's bad.' The people who've told you heroin is bad have done a good job. But any sort of opiate drug is. It's something you have to have every day after a while. Mentally you don't want it, but physically, you know… 
WSF?: People knew of his problems. I read there was an intervention.
LS: No. It wasn't really like that. Um… I don't know. It wasn't really like that. Mitch wasn't a person you could really do an intervention with because he was like, “I'm doing better than anyone.” Like, he was doing really well but… 
WSF?: He was coping.
LS: Here it is: Mitch would take things like an intervention as being negative. And he didn't like negativity. I'd be like, “Mitch, we're falling apart. We can't do this anymore. We're on the road, we're not healthy.” Endless, you know what I mean? It wasn't doing either of us any favours. And I think his thing was, “We gotta keep rolling, we gotta keep working,” instead of taking a break. It was more like “keep rolling.” And it destroyed us, you know? It ruined everything. But I'm putting it on him but also I was driven to be a little bit like, “Don't let anyone know; we're going to be okay.” It was a lot of mistakes along the way. But neither of us were like, “We're doing the greatest thing. We're cool.” None of that. We knew we were going down a hole. But we couldn't get off the… everything, yeah. A lot of things. I'll have to write about it. Is that making any sense? 
WSF?: Kind of. I mean, I can see getting caught up in it and you're still able to make your gigs and put on a show.
LS: Exactly. What makes it even harder is having to fly all the time. It's so many of these things put together instead of us just going, “Look, we fucked up, let's get off the road and fix this.” It was just a constant never-ending thing. 
WSF?: That would be hard to just get off the road and stop, right?
LS: Well, yeah, you could. People do it all the time. People are like, “I need six months off; let's cancel my gigs.” I think it was so much work. Like, “What if we cancel a gig and then we're in trouble?” It just was this never-ending thing. But you know, it was us and him and me. People were concerned, like his manager and family. Mitch was very much his own person. We're responsible for ourselves. 
WSF?: But also just being caught up in it.
LS: Yeah, and working really hard. 
WSF?: And also if you are a little bit sensitive…
LS: Of course I am! 
WSF?: No, not you. I mean him.
LS: Oh. Oh, oh, yes, both. 
WSF?: But you, too.
LS: It's my life, too. 
WSF?: And stop me if I'm going too far.
LS: No. 
WSF?: If somebody were to bring that up in an intervention, I could see how it would be perceived like an insult. Maybe it's part embarrassment.
LS: Yeah, but he was also probably protecting me. Remember I said earlier I was so concerned? I'm with this great person and I don't want to… It's hard to talk about it. It's emotional. Me so concerned about him and his talent. We were making tons of money, working hard. I didn't want anything to bring it down and then it become this self-fulfilling prophesy. And him pushing me. We both did the same thing. We both did drugs and we both fucked up. It's hard. 
WSF?: And you weren't alone in that.
LS: No, on the planet, no! But I probably felt more ashamed and scared. And I don't think he was as much so I think he protected me. It was like you're in this bubble where you're together. But that wasn't our whole life. We did so many millions of things: we camped, we worked, we built a home, we wrote, we created things. But we were fucked up. We could have stepped back. Easily. We had enough money. It was before the internet and he was like, “We've worked so hard. What if we get off and it stops going?” You know, he spent his whole life to get gigs and then he was like, “Now I have them, I can't…” 
WSF?: He felt he had to keep the momentum going.
LS: Which is so crazy. I mean, God. 
WSF?: Crazy youth.
LS: Yeah, but… (sigh). Yeah. Something was going to happen and it did. 
WSF?: Did I step over any…?
LS: No, no, no. No, obviously I've never really talked much. I haven't talked about it much. I'm going to write a book about it so I don't want to talk too much. But you know that's a mindset that was going on. It was never a “fuck you, fuck you, people!” It's, you know, so many things that you can look back on. 
WSF?: And I don't know if it's a function of the media or the internet…
LS: The internet doesn't really know anything, I don't think. 
WSF?: When something like heavy drug use is out there, that's all you tend to think: well, that's what that person is. And as you say, “No, we do all these other things.” You're complete individuals.
LS: That's what I was saying. I remember when I was 14 or 15 and I had a Blondie poster on my wall. My sister's a bit older. She goes, “Oh, my God. Look how fucking high they are.” I go, “What?!” She goes, “Yeah, look at their eyes. They're on dope.” And I remember being mortified, taking down the poster, and being like, “Oh my God.” And then later you realize, oh no, they're multi-dimensional people. But yeah, that's why I haven't really talked about the drugs very much at all because I want people to understand… Mitch has gained so many fans over the years after he died purely on his material. I haven't really talked too much about it. There isn't a lot out there. I want people to get their own thing. People love him. And I will talk about it more. This is the most I've ever talked about it. 
WSF?: I felt like it was, in stuff that I've read…
LS: People don't know anything. 
WSF?: … that it was sort of the elephant in the room that nobody would bring up and I wasn't sure if I should.
LS: Yeah, people brought it up but also at the time we were partying with tons of people, too, and did tons of things. But yeah, I haven't really talked about it a lot. Because when I'm talking about Mitch's life at that point, I'm talking about my own. So it's hard what you're ready for. It may take some time. I'll write about it for sure. 
WSF?: It'll be cathartic, I bet.
LS: Oh, a hundred percent. Of course, of course. Think about how much guilt and regret and love combined with so many things. Yeah. It's hard being the one who survives and losing someone wonderful. You know what blew my mind is I remember Mitch dying, and I'm like, “Oh my God, I can never talk about him again. What's going to happen? It's always going to be that drug thing.” And I haven't talked about it for years. I've written a few things and I get contacted all the time by people that are so beyond it, that when I do talk about it it's going to be about like how it really was. And how it doesn't define who you are. I used to think that if you did heroin, you were on the ground, like dead. But not talking about it all the time was something that I chose to do because I want his art to speak for itself. And it does. 
WSF?: It totally does.
LS: But I will, yeah, I'm talking about it now but I'll definitely write a bit more about it and really explain it. 
WSF?: It's always the undercurrent. People know about it already. So it doesn't tarnish his art.
L: Oh my God, yes. Mitch's mom passed away last year. She probably emailed so many fans of Mitch's. They emailed her. Right now, I bet if Mitch was here he'd be like, “Mom!” But it was cathartic for her to talk to his fans. They just spoke to her about what they loved about him because of  his material and despite the drugs and all. So yeah. But I might be done on this… I'm good. 
WSF?: It's a cautionary tale.
LS: Oh, of course. 
WSF?: So even bringing it out there could help.
LS: Um, but… Um… No. I think in itself it is. People know. 
WSF?: Right, just in itself. You don't want to hit people over the head.
LS: I don't want to be like, “Write an essay. Kids, don't…” Because it's its own thing.
WSF?: That's the worst. That doesn't help.
LS: And I would never do that. And you know what? If Mitch was here, he'd be like, “Do what you wanna do in life. But also learn." He would hate it if I was walking around telling people not to take drugs.

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