Does drinking help or hurt?

"My manager was concerned, he said 'Mitch, don't use liquor as a crutch.' I can't use liquor as a crutch... because a crutch helps me walk. Liquor severely screws up the way I walk. It ain't like a crutch, it's like a step I didn't see." -Mitch Hedberg

Mitch is also the guy who needed to down a bottle of Jack moments before hitting the stage at Letterman. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out.

A Slate article asks, "Hemingway, Fitzgerald: Did alcohol help or hinder the great writers?"

The great comedic actor W.C. Fields had a similar realization. Fields initially started drinking onstage and on set because he thought it loosened him up and improved his comic timing. But since he had a naturally high tolerance for alcohol, it took increasingly large quantities to keep him loose. (Fields once estimated that he imbibed “eight or ten cocktails, possibly a bottle of champagne, and a half dozen or more bottles of beer and ale per day.”) He insisted that drinking had never interfered with his work—until shortly before his death, when he told a friend from his hospital bed, “I’ve often wondered how far I could have gone had I laid off the booze.”

Being fucked up a lil' has helped me at times onstage. Loosens me up when I'm feeling stiff. But I started backing away from it a few years ago because I hated the idea that it might be something I'd NEED to do before performing. The idea that I have a big set so I'd have to go out and pound some shots first creeped me out. That's not a sustainable approach. You have to be able to bring your A game sober. Otherwise you're on a dangerous path.


Larry Werth said...

"Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out". No we don't, and searching brings up nothing and he did the show multiple times.

You've also covered this topic with Stanhope before, didn't you?

Matt Ruby said...

His Letterman sets went well (should be on YouTube) but he eventually OD'd so that's what I was referring to. And yeah, discussed Stanhope's drinking here.

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