For this week’s episode, I sat down with Jonathan Katz in his home in Newton, Massachusetts to talk about his career in stand-up comedy and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, his popular Comedy Central show which is now an audio series on Audible. Season Two of the new incarnation is coming up this summer, and Katz gives the complete rundown of new guests, plus a preview of what’s happening with Dr. Katz, his son Ben, played by H. Jon Benjamin, and his receptionist, Laura, played by Laura Silverman.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Jonathan and his partner in Dr. Katz, Tom Snyder, about how they originally pitched Dr. Katz to Comedy Central. The story was, they were both new to television at the time, but stuck to their vision for the show, which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. A lot of that story never made it to print, so I’m glad to have it on the record here. You can check out my interview with Snyder way back in EP10 of the podcast.
We also spoke about his early experiences touring with Robin Williams. It’s a strange bit of Katz’s history. He was Williams’s musical director, writing songs for the act and playing guitar onstage. One of those songs was “This Heart Is Closed for Alterations,” co-written with Katz’s college buddy from Goddard, David Mamet. If that’s not an intriguing enough mix, Williams once performed that song on Mork & Mindy with his opening act, The Rick and Ruby Show.
Toward the end of the conversation, we also spoke about Multiple Sclerosis, how that has affected his performing, and one way he’d like to connect with the MS community. I also inadvertently ruin a great joke in that segment. My apologies to Jonathan. You can keep up with Jonathan’s work on his Website at JonathanKAtz.com, and look for new episodes of Dr. Katz: The Audio Files on Audible later this summer.
The featured track this week comes from Matt Dorrien off his new album, Songs In the Key of Grey on Mama Bird Recording Co. I’m always impressed by anyone who can write songs in a classic, American Songbook style and do it well. Plenty of people try, and plenty of people slog through the classics and it sounds perfunctory at best or schlocky at worst. But there are people like Randy Newman and Joe Henry who can write songs that sound both timeless and modern. And that’s the territory Dorrien works. The song I’m about to play is an obvious example of that. It’s called “Dayton Ohio, 1983.” If that title sounds familiar to you, you might be thinking of the Randy Newman song, “Dayton Ohio, 1903″ from his 1972 album Sail Away.
In Newman’s vision, Dayton is a quaint, quiet town where people are nice to each other, sitting for Sunday tea. In Dorrien’s update, the narrator is a kid who grew up in Dayton and finds it quiet. And boring. He dreams of moving out to LA and having a fling with a dancer. And maybe getting into a little bit, or a lot of trouble. Listen to the song on the podcast, then head back hear and listen to Newman’s vision of Dayton. Find out more about Dorrien at MattDorrien.com and Mama Bird Recording Co. at MamaBirdRecordingCo.com.
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