Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

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Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.jpg
Genre Animated Sitcom
Created by Jonathan Katz[1]
Tom Snyder
Voices of Jonathan Katz
H. Jon Benjamin
Laura Silverman
Will LeBow
Julianne Shapiro
Theme music composer Tom Snyder
Shapiro Music
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 81 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Tom Snyder
Tim Braine
Nancy Geller
Producer(s) Loren Bouchard
Julianne Shapiro
Jonathan Katz
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Comedy Central
HBO Downtown Productions
Popular Arts Entertainment
Tom Snyder Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Paramount Television
Original network Comedy Central
Picture format 4:3 SDTV
Original release May 28, 1995 (1995-05-28) –
February 13, 2002

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist is an American animated series that originally ran on Comedy Central from May 28, 1995 to December 24, 1999, with a final set of three shelved episodes airing in 2002, starring Jonathan Katz, Jon Benjamin, and Laura Silverman. The show was created by Burbank, California production company Popular Arts Entertainment (executive producers: Tim Braine, Kevin Meagher, and David Pritchard), with Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder, developed and first made by Popular Arts for HBO Downtown Productions. Boston-based Tom Snyder Productions became the hands-on production company, and the episodes were usually produced by Katz and Loren Bouchard. It won a Peabody Award in 1998.[2]

The show was computer-animated in a crude, easily recognizable style produced with the software Squigglevision (a device Snyder had employed in his educational animation business) in which all persons and animate objects are colored and have constantly squiggling outlines, while most other inanimate objects are static and usually gray in color.[3] The original challenge Popular Arts faced was how to repurpose recorded stand-up comedy material. To do so, they based Dr. Katz's patients on stand-up comics for the first several episodes, simply having them recite their stand-up acts. The secondary challenge was how to affordably animate on cable TV at the time. Snyder (a boyhood friend of Braine's) had Squigglevision, an inexpensive means of getting animation on cable, which could not afford traditional animation processes. A partnership between Popular Arts, Tom Snyder Productions and Jonathan Katz was formed, and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist was born.


The show focused on the title character, Dr. Jonathan Katz, who was voiced by, and visually based on, the comedian of the same name. Dr. Katz was a professional psychotherapist who had famous comedians and actors as patients, usually two per episode.[4] The comedians' therapy sessions generally consisted of them doing their onstage material while Dr. Katz offered insights or simply let them rant. Meanwhile, therapy sessions featuring actors and actresses offered more interpersonal dialogue between Katz and his patient to better suit their predisposition. Dr. Katz is a very laid-back, well-intended man who enjoys playing the guitar and spending time at the bar with his friend Stanley and the bartender, Julie.[5]

Interspersed with these scenes were scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life, which included his aimless, childish 24-year-old son, Ben (Jon Benjamin), his uninterested and unhelpful secretary, Laura (Laura Silverman), and his two friends: Stanley (Will LeBow), and the barmaid, Julie, voiced by one of the show's producers, Julianne Shapiro. In later episodes, Todd (Todd Barry), the video store clerk, became a regular character.

Each show would typically begin with Dr. Katz and Ben at breakfast and initiating a plotline. These plots included events like Ben attempting to become a radio personality, believing he is in possession of ESP, or suffering a moral conundrum after receiving a chain letter. The development of these plotlines would occur in alternation with the segments between Dr. Katz and his guests.

The show would end in a similar way each week: while Dr. Katz was in a session with a patient, music signaling the close of the show would begin to play. Katz would acknowledge it by saying, "Whoops, you know what the music means... our time is up" or some variant thereof.

Much of the show's content, particularly dialogue between Katz and Ben, was improvised through a process called "retroscripting", in which a vague outline is developed but the actual dialogue is ad-libbed. This style, as well as Squigglevision, would reappear in Home Movies, a cartoon on which many members of the Dr. Katz cast and crew worked.

Original airing[edit]

The first episode of Dr. Katz aired on May 28, 1995. A total of 81 episodes were produced, with the sixth and final season (of 18 episodes) beginning on June 15, 1999. Only the first six of the final season episodes were aired on Comedy Central immediately, though they did air in international markets. After a five-month delay, another nine episodes ran during a Christmas Eve marathon. The final three episodes were broadcast for the first time in the United States on February 13, 2002, during an event dubbed "Dr. Katz goes to the Final Three."


Comic strip[edit]

A comic strip of the same name was produced by the LA Times syndicate from March 1997 to January 2000. One book collection was published, Hey, I've Got My Own Problems. Writers included Bill Braudis and Dave Blazek, with artwork by Dick Truxaw.

Live action production[edit]

In 2007, Comedy Central presented An Evening with Dr. Katz: Live from the Comedy Central Stage, a live-action special taped in front of a live audience at the Hudson Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, featuring Jonathan Katz reprising his role as Dr. Katz. Comedians Maria Bamford, Kathy Griffin, Andy Kindler and Paul F. Tompkins appeared in person as celebrity "clients"; Jon Benjamin and Laura Silverman reprised their respective roles from the animated series. This special was included in the "Complete Series" DVD compilation.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, live performances took place at the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival in Austin, Texas on April 23rd and 24th. Staged therapy sessions included Andy Kindler, Emo Philips, Maria Bamford, Dom Irrera, Dana Gould, and Eddie Pepitone.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In "Summer Sucks", an episode of South Park, another Comedy Central cartoon, Dr. Katz appears as Mr. Garrison's psychiatrist.
  • In the Mr. Show episode "Bush is a Pussy", a Dr. Katz scene is played out between Katz and Kedzie Matthews, a spoof of a typical college comic, at the end of the episode.
  • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast Season Six episode "King Dead", which featured Benjamin as the guest, the Dr. Katz show is mentioned by name.
  • In the direct-to-DVD parody film, Farce of the Penguins, Jonathan Katz appears as Steve, the owl who gives therapeutic advice for $275/hr.
  • In the children's animated series Arthur, there was an episode where the children all proposed an idea for a TV-show episode, all of which were based on various animated programs. Arthur's idea had himself as a young adult seeing Dr. Katz, complaining about his sister, D.W.
  • On the sitcom Help Me Help You, Jonathan Katz appeared as Dr. Katz.
  • In Family Guy, Katz appears as Peter Griffin's therapist in "Saving Private Brian", where Peter makes note of his unusual art style. He says that his skin always appears to be moving and he responds that he thinks he's having some sort of seizure. The episode's commentary reveals that Jonathan Katz declined the opportunity to reprise the role, and consequently Katz is voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
  • In the 1996 film Independence Day, Stuck in traffic, Fierstein demands over his cellphone that he speak with Dr. Katz. Fierstein himself was previously a guest character on the show.
  • In the Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man episode "Das Sub", Duckman has a picture of Dr. Katz in his office.

Home releases[edit]

The DVD cover for the complete series

Season Releases

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
Season 1 May 9, 2006 6 Bonus features include cast and crew commentary, and several animated shorts.
Season 2 November 21, 2006 13 Bonus features include cast and crew commentary, and "follow-up calls" with previous guest stars.
The Complete Series November 20, 2007 [7] 81 Bonus Features include a 28-page booklet with patients' "memories from the couch" and new drawings, as well as "An Evening with Dr Katz: Live from the Comedy Central Stage."
The Best Of Dr. Katz December 2, 2008 [8] Various Segments Bonus features include excerpts from other Comedy Central series and a look back at classic Ben & Laura moments.


  1. ^ Brozan, Nadine (June 12, 1997). "CHRONICLE". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  2. ^ 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
  3. ^ Wertheimer, Ron (April 26, 1999). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Meet the Small Family, A Year After the Divorce". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Steve (December 1, 1995). "Laugh Therapy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  5. ^ Milvy, Erika (December 14, 2008). "For Him, Laughter Was the Best Therapy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  6. ^ Moontower Review: Dr. Katz Live, April 25, 2015
  7. ^ "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist DVD news: Announcement for Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist The Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  8. ^ "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist DVD news: Press Release for The Best of Dr. Katz". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 

External links[edit]