Bringing his classic, animated show to life, Jonathan Katz reprised his beloved role of an ineffectual therapist listening to comedians discuss their problems, if only to find openings to try out his own material. Out of the game a while (he’s been battling multiple sclerosis), Katz was generally sharp and up for anything, while some of his surprise guest patients (all of whom were white men) found the improvised shrink session to be a pretty intense encounter.
Katz emerged first to warm-up the crowd with edgy stand-up and punny one-liners. He suggested that a sin twice as bad as date rape was “double date rape” and that child pornographers deserve to be tried as adults. So, dad jokes if your dad gives no fucks about your lot in life.
Katz then took a seat centre stage at a set resembling his cartoon office on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and awaited word from his receptionist about his first patient, who turned out to be Andy Kindler. It was truly fascinating, watching these two funny men, valiantly trying to warm the engine up on this doctor-patient premise, and get to a place where Kindler’s obsession with Hitler documentaries left us with an impression that Eva Braun was kind of a babe and that TV’s Archie Bunker might well have been an allegorical personification of Der Führer’s last days.
Virtually everyone who followed struck gold and sputtered in kind. Sean Cullen channelled all sorts of surreal neuroses about his kids and ex-wife calling him fat and stinky, while Doug Benson extolled his slacker success and obsession with getting high.
Kids in the Hall‘s Scott Thompson seemed the most legit in letting his nerves show. “This isn’t going well,” he muttered early on, in a self-conscious manner befitting both a concerned comedian improvising with no net, and a protective patient, not really hoping for a breakthrough in therapy.
The star of the show was clearly Chris Gethard, who appeared second after Kindler and struck a unique, gut-busting rapport with Katz. Gethard oscillated between revealing monologues about his psychological struggles, and engaging Katz about the doctor’s own issues. A well-timed callback to the suspicious van Katz once bought off of some mysterious seniors was a sure sign that Gethard was totally in the moment and as focused as a laser beam.
After Gethard revealed that he was surrounded by bullies growing up, and that that circumstance was stressful, Katz said “Can you say stress again?” The discovery that Gethard pronounced stress, “stress” and that other “s” sounds get the “sh” treatment leaving his mouth, actually blew his mind and brought the room tremendous joy. This fake therapy session actually got to something real, and Gethard said it changed him forever.