David Koechner is probably best known for playing San Diego sportscaster Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Michael Scott's obnoxious friend Todd Packer on The Office. Personally, I'm very fond of his portrayal of gun lobbyist (and member of the Merchants of Death) Bobby Jay Bliss in Thank You for Smoking. Bliss is the kind of scum-sucker who will shrug and tell you that it's all scum, so you may as well learn to smile while you suck. That Koechner manages to make him weirdly likable is a genuine achievement.
Tonight through Saturday, he'll be appearing at the American Comedy Club in the Gaslamp. Tickets are available here.
Matthew Lickona: We're coming up on the release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 30). How does Champ Kind feel about Ron Burgundy now?
David Koechner: Well, we all know that Champ has a huge crush on Ron. But is it a sexual affection or just a deep friendship that Champ is desperate to have?
ML: In Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, it gets pretty sexual.
DK: There you go — you saw that one. But if you're asking if that relationship comes to fruition, I will say that it's hinted at.
ML: How did sports guy Champ feel when Ron Burgundy got to audition for ESPN?
DK: I think he was happy for him, because wherever Ron goes, he usually takes his crew.
ML: Moving on to other important roles: when I came out of Piranha 3DD, I had in my notes, "David Koechner gave more to the film than the film asked of him." Piranha 3DD was not a piece of high art. Could you talk about what happens when you get a film like that? How you prepare for it, how you treat it?
DK: I keep employed.
DK: The reality is, I have five kids. Sometimes, economics makes choices for you. But here's the thing I love: I do all kinds of stuff, and I embrace it. I wasn't stuck with four more films like Piranha 3DD. I went and did Anchorman 2. I did three episodes of Hannah Montana. I did a voice on Phineas and Ferb. I went to Canada and shot a film with Brent Butt. I went to Vermont and did a short film that made me cry because it was about a woman who grew up in a family where her two oldest brothers had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and they knew they were going to die. I don't think I even got paid for that, but it was one of those things that you have to do. I did a dark thriller called Cheap Thrills that has some comedic elements.
ML: So when a casting director says, "Get me a David Koechner type," what does she mean?
DK: I don't know if she does say that. I've been blessed with many opportunities. Some turn out great; some, people might turn their noses up at; and some make me say, "Fuck yeah, I did this thing!" People think of me for two roles: Champ Kind and Todd Packer. But I started on Saturday Night Live. I get to go out and do stand up. I've been so fortunate. I've done four movies that are cult hits. There's Waiting..., which people are constantly quoting. There's Out Cold, which inspires deep affection in anybody who was 12 years old in 2000. There's another movie called Run Ronnie Run. People will still come up to me and grab their heads and say, "What the hell was that?" My job is to play for a living, and if I get to play in a lot of different arenas, so be it.
ML: About those arenas: you've got a YouTube channel, Full on Koechner. Tell me about Roy, the fat gay fellow you created on there.
DK: My buddy Jimmy Carrane and I used to be roommates in Chicago, and it was just a bit we would do to amuse ourselves. Roy has these false aspirations — he thinks he's kind of a big deal and that he's on his way somewhere in life. He's self-important because at his core, he's really wounded. But he refuses to acknowledge his own pain — he'd rather lash out at someone else than have any self-reflection.
ML: And Cheap Thrills?
DK: We shot it in 12 days on a very modest budget, and it's one of those films that just came together. It's a dark and sinister story that pulls you in and takes you along for the ride through this one night. You keep making decisions with the players, and it just gets more and more sinister. I watched it with several festival audiences, and I always thought it was a dark thriller, but people were laughing. Because there was so much tension, they had to. There are certain points in the movie where they'll take any opportunity for some kind of release.
ML: If you had to do just one arena — feature films, standup, YouTube sketches, which one would you pick?
DK: If I could pick just one thing, do it in town, and make a solid income out of it? Standup. There's nothing better than that immediacy — you having that communal experience with an audience.
ML: Tell me about this show you're bringing to town.
DK: I like to call it a Big Tent Revival show. I do a little bit of everything. I do traditional standup, and then I do character pieces. And there will be some music. If I called it a variety show, that would make it sound hokey, but it's kind of like that. There's a bit of improvisation — I like to have that organic feel to it. And I'm in show business. People know me from the movies, and they expect me to say certain lines. I'm not going to disappoint them. But I find the hardest thing for me to do is describe my show. I should probably look at some review somewhere and see what they've said.