Jonathan Katz

Jonathan Katz
Full name
Jonathan Paul Katz

Jonathan Paul Katz (born December 1, 1946) is an American comedian, actor, and voice actor best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. He produces a podcast titled Hey, We're Back and can be heard on Explosion Bus. Katz's father was an immigrant from Budapest, Hungary. He is a close friend of playwright David Mamet, with whom he attended Goddard College. Katz co-wrote House of Games with Mamet and had small roles in the Mamet-directed films Things Change, Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner and State and Main. Katz and Mamet used to travel from college to college hustling people at ping-pong. Katz was the New York ping-pong champion in 1964. He would let Mamet beat him. They would pretend to play for money, and then Mamet would say to a mark, "If you want to play me, you have to beat my friend first." To keep the game moderately close, Katz would sometimes spot his opponents 15 points and during every point recall a painful experience from his childhood. Originally a musician and songwriter, Katz fronted a rhythm and blues group called "Katz and Jammers" before serving as the musical director for Robin Williams's 1979 stand-up tour. In 1998, he released a blues album titled Brandon Project. 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.' " 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: "People have been pretty supportive; nobody ever had me in mind for an action film because of the kind of work I do -- mostly in the world of animation, which is not a big issue because as a person, I can't run that fast; as a cartoon character, I can fly -- literally." Katz, who now gets around with the help of a motorized scooter and performs on stage with the aid of a cane, says he doesn't regret his decision: "One of the reasons I disclosed my condition is because it is much easier to live with MS than to pretend you don't have it. If I could convince everyone of that, my job here is done." Dr. Katz originally aired on Comedy Central from 1995 to 2002, and starred Katz as a professional therapist whose patients were chiefly other comedians and actors. He received a Primetime 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, as well as on the Adult Swim animated comedy series "Squidbillies", where he performed uncredited voice-overs as "The Rapist" in Season 2 and as the Holodeck Therapist in Season 5. In 2007, Katz joked to Blast Magazine entertainment editor Bessie King about the success of his Comedy Central show and the recent release of the full series on DVD. "I’m so proud of that work and I’m a compulsive name dropper, when I did a movie with Ice Cube over the summer I said...I hope my best work is not behind me but if it is, I’m glad it's Dr. Katz," he said. In 2007, he released a stand-up album titled Caffeinated. In 2009, he can be seen (or heard) as Freezy, the Burl Ives-inspired animated snowman star of Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of the Cars, a comedy biopic about The Cars, which Katz narrates throughout. In 2011, he starred as Jon Gold on the web series Explosion Bus created by Tom Snyder and co-developed with Katz, Snyder and Tom Leopold. In the spring of 2012, Katz taught a theater class at Brandeis University in Short Form Comedy.