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David Koechner | Underneath the cowboy hat and outside 'The Office'
When David Koechner was a "Saturday Night Life" cast member, he never "made the choice" to accidentally crack up.
Instead, the comedic actor from NBC's, "The Office" and the film "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," was all about keeping it professional. The normal, zany comedian interview questions don't work on Koechner; he wants to talk more about his craft than his guilty pleasures or what sexy male lead would play him if Hollywood made a movie about his life.
Unlike some funny men, he's not simply a gifted slacker, he works hard with what he's been given. While Koechner says some of his costars such as Will Ferrell and Steve Carell simply exude talent and focus, those same qualities are alive and well in Koechner, the loving husband and responsible father of five who really knows how to make people laugh, including you, if you come see him April 14-16 at the Parlor Live Comedy Club. For tickets, go to www.parlorlive.com.
REPORTER: I was confused. When I was scheduling this interview with your assistant, she signed her name as Melissa but her email address said Savannah.
DK: Yeah, with five kids, we have two assistants. Savannah is actually on tour with Ke$ha right now.
REPORTER: Woah. Does she split her time between you and Ke$ha?
DK: No, they're just buddies and she had the opportunity to go, so we encouraged her to.
REPORTER: You've done everything from improv, to standup and sketch comedy, to acting in films and on TV. Is there one you prefer over others?
DK: I couldn't tell you. There's something joyful about every medium. I'm lucky I get to do all of the them.
REPORTER: How would you describe your comedic style in one word.
REPORTER: Where do you gain inspiration for your material?
DK: There's a thing that happens when you're going to do standup. My head space changes. You start looking for humor and story in anything. It becomes, 'Oh this would be a fun piece to act out on stage and retell in a story form.' Whatever is going on in the news, for example. Everything you read or watch might be a grain of an idea.
REPORTER: You were on SNL from 1995-1996 with actors such as Ferrell, Molly Shannon, Darrell Hammond and Cheri Oteri among others. Describe that experience.
DK: All the books are about the treacherous hours and politics. Perhaps that's why I was only there for one season. But really, I had a ball and made some lifelong friendships. It's odd. I had a great experience but maybe it's because I was there for such a short time.
REPORTER: You know when you're watching SNL and the actors are trying hard not to crack up? Did you ever have one of those moments?
DK: Not really because there's no surprise. You've read the sketch 10 or 15 times. Sometimes it surprises me when people make the choice to crack up. I'm not sure why they do it. Maybe it's nerves. Maybe it's a technique.
REPORTER: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play you and why?
DK: I don't have a big enough ego to have thought about that one.
REPORTER: What was it like working on the set of "The Office"?
DK: It's always a joy. Everyone there is a really great person. The writing is so good. You're working at a really high level. It's a treat.
REPORTER: What roles are you most recognized for?
DK: Well there's no question. Champ Kind from "Anchorman" and Todd Packer from "The Office." The interesting thing is after three appearances on the [sitcom], the print media would write, 'David Koechner from 'The Office.'' As time goes on, people have viewed "Anchorman" so many times. [The two roles] are equal.
REPORTER: How do I pronounce your last name? We were having a debate in my office about how to pronounce it.
DK: 'Kekner.' Everyone butchers it; it's German. I come from a small town called Tipton, Missouri which started as a German community. I guess I could have taken a stage name to make it easier, but then I would have to answer to my hometown.
REPORTER: And your family was in the turkey business, right?
DK: The turkey transportation business. We build the coops to transport the turkeys. If you see a turkey going down the road in a big truck, most likely its coop is from Tipton, Missouri.
REPORTER: Tell me about getting your first big movie break in "Anchorman."
DK: I auditioned for it, having known Will and Adam for a number of years. They couldn't just give it to me or lobby for me to the producers, but I managed to get it when they showed them my audition tape.
REPORTER: I noticed you tweeting Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell that they better not be married yet because you wanted to be the minister. Can you really marry people?
DK: No. I did a series of funny TV interviews, branded programming, for College Humor called "Always Open." It's a series where we're at a Denny's restaurant and I interview celebrities, including Amy Poehler, Kristen Bell and Will Forte. We sit down and talk for half an hour, which then gets edited down to three minutes. I had known Dax for a number of years, but I had never met Kristen Bell until then. But she's just adorable and delightful.
REPORTER: From Dan, the manager in "Waiting," to Hershell in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and one of your most recent roles as Gus in the alien flick "Paul" with Seth Rogen and Simon Pegg, you've played a lot of memorable roles. Do you have a favorite?
DK: All of them; can I be diplomatic? Champ has been amazing for me also Bobby Jay Bliss, the gun lobbyist, in "Thank You for Smoking." I played Nathan in "Extract." [Mike Judge, the writer/director's] attention to detail is so rich and his characters are so much fun to play.
REPORTER: You've worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Carell, Ferrell, Miley Cyrus and Luke Wilson. Who have you had the most fun working with?
DK: During the making of "Anchorman," we all kind of knew something special was happening. We almost didn't want to talk about it, sort of like when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter. We had a f***ing blast.
REPORTER: What are Carell and Ferrell like?
DK: Steve is charming, intelligent and quiet. He's not a look-at-me guy, very much just pure talent. Will is another funny guy who just seems to breathe talent. He's all work, smooth, funny and charming.
REPORTER: So you and your wife Leigh have five kids in that Los Angeles house of yours. Is that a handful?
DK: Yeah, it's crazy. It's chaos. I'm at home right now and the kids are just about due back. We have two dogs, too. Just unbridled chaos.
REPORTER: Ever been to the Seattle area or Bellevue before?
DK: Yes, I've been to the Seattle area before. It's a really great place. People are ambitious and industrial. People in San Francisco are more laid back than most cities. Seattle is even more laid back than San Francisco. No one is more laid back than Portland.
REPORTER: Good point. Well, I think that may be it for my questions unless you have anything else to add? David?
DK: (After calling back) Sorry, the perils of the iPhone.
REPORTER: No worries. Thanks for your time.
DK: Right on. Peace. Have a great day.