I started doing standup in 1981, when there weren’t so many jokes. I quickly learned that my comedy wasn’t for everybody, it was for everybody else. The Improv in New York City was my first home. There, being funny onstage was important, but even more so was being funny at the bar with the other comics. In the early days, some of the comedians had a standing bet on how long I’d last on stage. No one guessed it would be thirty-three years. My earliest credit was being musical director for Robin Williams, which worked until people realized that he was not a musician. Around that time, the movie House Of Games was released, written by David Mamet, based on a story by the two of us. A few years later, I played a sleazy comedian in his movie, Things Change – a stretch?
I made my debut on Late Night with David Letterman in 1985 and returned eight times since. I always pretend to leave something behind. Soon, I did The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – twice, Leno twice, and Conan seven times, but the work that really attracted attention was an animated series I created with Tom Snyder for Comedy Central called Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist. I played the title role and won an Emmy. The show won a Peabody Award. And then Hollywood took an interest: first NBC, then Dreamworks, followed by Paramount where I created a show called Raising Dad, which aired on the WB network. I’ve had roles in many animated shows, including Home Movies, Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time and Explosion Bus, but probably more people have seen me as the social worker in Eddie Murphy’s film Daddy Day Care than in any other role.
Currently I am working on a book with David Mamet called the The Home for Unfortunate Animals and happen to be living in one, too.
You can hear me on my podcast Hey, We’re Back on WKATZ.com.