Sunday, April 13, 2008

An evening with Dr. Katz

On Thursday, we went to the Somerville Theater to see Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, live. Given that the original eponymous TV show was animated, this may seem like an exceptional challenge.

However, as the show consisted largely of conversations like the above, it translated quite easily to a stage setting. As with the TV version, there were a couple of loose storylines, involving Katz and his son, Ben (H. Jon Benjamin), and Katz and his therapist, played by show co-creator Tom Snyder:

The rest of the action (as it were) consisted of local comedians sitting in the patient's chair: Matt Siegel, Bill Braudis, Will LeBow and Eugene Mirman (here on Snyder's lap):

The format was perfect for standup comedians to do their thing sitting down. The Boy was pleased to hear his all-time favorite moment from Dr. Katz, when Bill Braudis talked about his father's attempts to quit smoking: "He's tried gum, he's tried ... what do you call that thing with the needles? Heroin! He loves that stuff!"

There was also inspired improv banter between seasoned comics, including a few lovely old chestnuts, some revamped (the joke about
Pia Zadora's stage turn as Anne Frank, in which the audience yells to the Nazis, "She's in the attic!" has now been updated to Paris Hilton), and some classic ("I meant to ask my father to pass the salt, and instead I said, 'You ruined my life, you son of a bitch'").

And there was discussion of Katz's life since his 1997 diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. As in this
Boston Globe interview, he moved so quickly between humor and raw honesty that it was something hard to tell whether a punchline was coming or not.

''My first neurologist was very holistic. He said no alcohol, no red meat, no salt. I said, 'What about sex?' He said, 'I'm seeing someone.' "

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