Professional therapist

I used to love Comedy Central’s 90s-era “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,” a weirdly computer-animated show in which standup comedians did their acts as patients on the couch of Jonathan Katz (in real life, Katz was a standup as well). I remember seeing Ray Romano as one of Jonathan Katz’s patients long before “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Jonathan Katz and the show’s creator/animator, Tom Snyder (not the talk show host, who passed away in 2007) have a new web series, “Explosion Bus,” and are promoting it, which is how they wound up as the primary guests during the same week on the two comedy podcasts I listen to most regularly: “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” on Monday, and then “Sklarbro Country” on Friday. (Both contain strong language, particularly JJGo.)

Katz has the same soft-spoken, playful personality as a guest that he had on the show. He delights in silly little one-liners, and his joy when he finds an opportunity is infectious.

I have to say, though, “Explosion Bus” is a little – awkward, and not in a good way. Katz is as funny as ever, but the premise – a group of 30-somethings on a bus traveling around the country on some sort of online talent search – doesn’t seem to work. On the one hand, the characters are traveling around in this ratty looking bus, but yet in the second episode, they’re apparently supposed to be well-known enough that teenagers at a high school have crushes on (some of) them and invite them as celebrity prom dates. It makes no sense, even in a fun or larger-than-life sort of way.

But maybe I’m overthinking it.

How the states got their shapes

I’m a regular listener to Randy and Jason Sklar’s hilarious “Sklarbro Country” podcast, and their guest over the weekend was Brian Unger, who is probably best known as one of the correspondents on the original, Craig Kilborn-hosted “Daily Show.” Unger talked about his latest project, “How The States Got Their Shapes,” and plugged a 4th-of-July marathon of the show on the History Channel (which still, very occasionally, shows something tangentially related to history).

I have to say I’d never heard of it, but I’ve been watching all morning and it’s fascinating.

It’s a fun-to-watch take on American history and culture, using the creation of various states, and the drawing of their borders, as a jumping-off point for all sorts of discussions. I never realized, for example, that Texas is not connected to the rest of the contiguous U.S. power grid, and therefore is exempt from certain federal energy regulations. Would-be states such as Franklin (in what is now East Tennessee), Jefferson and Deseret are mentioned as well. Even Area 51 gets a segment.

Unger brings just the right amount of humor to the presentation – he never seems to be showing off or calling attention to himself, but he makes the proceedings fun. Some of the segments are  punctuated by man-on-the-street clips shot behind a sheet of Plexiglas on which Unger, for example, challenges people to draw the outline of Texas.

If you happen to run across this in the listings, I’d recommend checking it out.