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.