The 90’s animated series that let audiences see comedians in a different light has returned with a DVD collection. On November 20, Dr. Katz: The Complete Series DVD arrived in stores nationwide. The 13-disc collection includes 81 episodes from all six seasons.
Bonus features include three "lost" episodes featuring Dave Attell, Louis C.K. and Conan O’Brien; An Evening with Dr. Katz: Live from the Comedy Central Stage; and a 28-page booklet with an introduction from Dr. Katz and memoirs from his favorite patients with watercolor illustrations of each.
"I’m so proud of that work and, I’m a compulsive name dropper, [but] when I did a movie with Ice Cube over the summer I saidâ€¦I hope my best work is not behind me but if it is, I’m glad its Dr. Katz," said Jonathan Katz, Dr. Katz’s creator, stand-up comedian and image for Dr. Katz’s character.
Although the show has been one of the highlights of his life, Katz has now become a comedian with a cause. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, (MS) in 1997 Katz says on his personal website that he, "thought it was a stageâ€¦like puberty without pimples." Soon he realized MS was a life-long disease and for the first time he became a comedian, "with a hook."
The release comes at a time when his comedic appearances are mostly for fundraising or educational events related to his illness. The comedian is also involved in a Jewish comedy show that airs online at WKATZ.com and is produced in his at-home studio. At this point in his career, Katz is taking care of himself and enjoying his wife and daughters, whom he claims are far funnier than him, but he still imagines what would make a good comedic series today.
"When trying to get on air with another show one of the problems is finding an audience. The audience for animation now is very male, very young, very hornyâ€¦and into violence. We won the first Emmy award for an animated comedy and I’m a little jealous, in a good way, with the success of South Park because they make more money from the sweatshirts, but I don’t think it’s a place adults would look for animation entertainment, at least for me. Sometimes I underestimate the appeal," Katz analyzed.
Dr. Katz shared the life of a therapist who lived with his deadbeat son, Ben, and had interesting day-to-day dealings with his attractively sarcastic secretary, Laura. He made his comedian and artist patients, animated versions of Ray Romano, Rodney Dangerfield and Dave Chappelle, among others, do their stand-up routines or have in depth one-on-one’s to decipher their psychological issues.
The style of the show was one of a kind, with scripts that only included plot ideas and cast members that ad-libbed on these for the rest of the show. The range of topics discussed also varied and were original since, as Katz explains, comedic inspiration can be drawn from everywhere.
"I don’t want anyone laughing that’s not involuntary, I’ve been getting courtesy laughs form my daughters for the past 25 years. I could use the whole world for inspiration," Katz said. "The other day I did a show about the sounds of my house keeping me up at night."
Overall, he says, comedy can be a shield that disguises personal dilemmas. Katz admits that many comedians resort to alcohol or drugs because of past pains that keep on living after laughs from audiences die out. He became a comedian almost accidentally, his mother passed away when he was 16 and the death left him, "somewhat unfinished."
Katz admits that Ben was the character he assimilated to the most. His father, he claims, did not cut is allowance until he was 30 years old. A fact hard to believe but that basically represents a life overindulged. Surprisingly, this past has not affected Katz’s welcoming persona.
"When I was little I wanted to be a cowboy because that was on TV and then as I got older I waned to be a really good cowboy," said the comedian who considers himself lucky. "People will say to me, â€˜I haven’t laughed for 12 years’ and it’s a good feeling, helping people who don’t have a lot of laugh in their life, you don’t have to have MS to be miserable."
Besides his comedy show and the DVD release Katz is focusing on script writing for two comedies he would like to see made into full-length movies. Now living in Massachusetts he continues to learn that life is unexpected â€¦ and the Red Sox addictive.
"I’m from New York and when I first moved here my father in law said, â€˜don’t get involved with the Red Sox, they will break your heart,’ and now were crazy Sox fans," Katz said about the World Series champions.
While with Blast, the funny-man answered some rapid-fire questions; these certainly proved Katz is both, odd and unique.
Blast- What’s your favorite color?
Katz- Yellow an black, because I’m allergic to bees
Blast- What is the most memorable gift you’ve received?
Katz- I remember $2,500 I got in savings bonds for my Bar Mitzvah and I threw them by mistake in the incinerator. Unlike the Israel bonds I still haven’t matured.
Blast-What do you like to eat?
Katz- I love Cuban sandwiches, they’re comfort food for me, and I do like salsa picante too. My sister moved to Puerto Rico, she visited and fell in love with PRâ€¦and with Jose Montalvo. When I go there I eat the food.
Blast- What’s up with Britney?
Katz- I think she’s hurting like anybody else and for a guy who needs attention, I can get it with all my clothes on. I’m not sure she has that skill. I remember when I told my daughter, "You know she’s not a bad dancer," she said, "Yeah, for a slut."
Blast-How would you describe Jonathan Katz?
Katz- I guess I’m so removed, I sort of have a separate professional person and then the person. I’m 60 but I wish I was more curious about people and I don’t think I’m a good listener, I wish I was a better husband and father, but at least I now I’m a good dog owner. My dog loves me.