Jonathan Katz (Creator - 'Dr. Katz: Season One')
'The Doctor Is Back In'
Jonathan Katz is an American comedian, actor, and voice actor who is best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom 'Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.' He currently hosts a talk radio show titled You're on the Air with Jonathan Katz.
Dr. Katz originally aired on Comedy Central from 1995 to 2000, and starred Katz as a professional therapist whose patients chiefly comprised of other comedians and actors. He received an Emmy award for his work on the show in 1995 for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance. His voice can also be heard in the animated series, 'Home Movies,' a show with many ties to Dr. Katz.
In 1996, Katz was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The initial symptoms began in 1996: "I was working on a TV show called Ink with Ted Danson, and after every episode we would take a curtain call and I noticed that I needed a head-start." Over time, he found it difficult to hide his physical condition behind his jokes: "I was producing a show, and it was too physical a job for me to get from one location to another and I had to pretend I could keep up with everybody. My manager and attorney said, 'In Hollywood you can't be old or sick.'"
But hiding his condition became too much of a burden for Katz, and he eventually disclosed it. Now he speaks publicly as part of a tour sponsored by a manufacturer of medications used to treat MS.
Chatting recently with Jonathan, I first wondered when he was creating 'The Biography of Mr. Katz' - the original pitch idea to the network - did it ever cross his mind that he perhaps had a show on his hands that would run for six seasons? "I was only trying not to embarrass my family. I never thought anyone that did not know me would see the show."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of the TV show 'Dr. Katz Professional Therapist' and was thinking of buying the new DVD, how would you yourself describe what they were to expect? "Dr. Katz is a place where therapy and comedy meet face to face. It is not really a fair match because Dr. Katz’s patients are professional comedians. I was just a guy, also a comedian, pretending to be a therapist. Dr. Katz was a mediocre therapist but a pretty good dad to his son Ben. You know how some people think they are being controlled by “other forces” in the world? Dr. Katz was controlled by his receptionist Laura. He was a meek little man and was built like a yam."
Was the show always to be entitled 'Dr. Katz Professional Therapist' after your good self, or were there other titles at the time that were also being seriously considered? "The show, and you can see this on the DVD, had two previous lives. One was a short piece called “Shrinkrapped” and the other was “The Biography of Mr. Katz.”
And please do tell us more about those guest appearances - especially those here in season one such as Attell, Behar, Romano, Miller, etc. - and just how you went about getting their 'words' into your show each time "My first two guests were my friends, Bill Braudis and Dom Irrera, both of whom I knew from the world of stand up. I also knew Joy, Larry and Ray from that world and once Dave Attell heard that he had yet another chance at happiness, he too signed up."
Was there ever an occasion throughout the series where a comedians piece was recorded, but for one reason or another it never got finished or never aired even upon completion? "That happened a few times. We became more skilled at converting comedians comedy into therapy so in the early days some guys fell through the cracks.'
If there was one 'therapy session' from any season that stands out in your mind, which one was it and why? "I guess my sessions with Dom Irrerra, a guy I know so well I can spell his name…almost. He cracks me up so working with him was extra fun. It also took me a while to realize that I was aloud to have fun. Working with Jon Benjamin (Ben) and Laura Silverman (Laura) helped in that area. Benjamin has a style that is so different than mine it really changed my view of comedy. I now see it as something that can be used for good or evil.'
Please tell us how "Squigglevision" aided your final creation of 'Dr. Katz Professional Therapist.' "Squigglevision, or as we like to call it, Squigglevision was an invention of the show’s co-creator, Tom Snyder. He is a funny guy drawn to comedy. the fact that squigglevision triggered seizures in more than 1500 adults is just a co-incidence."
Knowing that you also deal with Multiple Sclerosis on a daily basis, I'm wondering what words of a positive nature, of wisdom perhaps that you would have for other sufferers out there today who many be feeling that deep, dark blanket of depression mentally enveloping them all too quickly "Don’t be a gloomy gus. That’s easy for me to say. Living with ms is easier, for me, than pretending not to have it. I have done both. Besides, there is nothing wrong with a deep, dark blanket of depression as long as it doesn’t get you down!"
So, and knowing that you were also the New York State Ping Pong champion in 1964, I guess the big question is ... where can that wonderful trophy be now found within your house today?! "Some pawn shop in nyc…along with my violin!"
Finally, please answer this next question of mine as if you were indeed 'Dr. Katz Professional Therapist': A friend of mine, indeed a close and personal friend of mine, works way too many hours a day, doesn't eat properly, has sleep issues due to working into the wee hours, and has put off his upcoming marriage date @ twenty times in the past three years! What would your advice be to him ... this personal, dear friend of mine?! "Often we don’t recognize the thing that will heal us. It is important to think of marriage as an experiment because if it is not that than what is it. You know what the music means…our time is up!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win a 'Dr. Katz: Season One' DVD, just answer this easy question: Katz is a close personal friend of which renowned playwright - a man that traveled around college to college with Katz hustling people over games of ping pong?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great DVDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: DR. KATZ DVDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
'Dr. Katz: Season One' DVD Purchase Link
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