Comedian + Film Star David Koechner Dishes On Donuts And His Missouri Roots
Although you may need to look really hard to find Tipton, Missouri, on a map, you won’t need to search as intensely to find its most famous citizen, David Koechner.
The actor, writer. producer and alumnus of Second City and “Saturday Night Live” has logged more than 150 credits, including sportscaster Champ Kind in “Anchorman” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” as well as roles in “Krampus,” “Get Smart,” “Talladega Nights” and “Cheap Thrills.” On television he is best known as Todd Packer on “The Office” and for appearances in “Another Period” and “The Goldbergs.” His voice can be heard on “American Dad,” “F is for Family” and “All Hail King Julien.”
Born into a chicken coop manufacturing family, the University of Missouri alum is the epitome of a working actor. Koechner’s latest film “Priceless” recently hit theaters, and he will soon appear with Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal in CBS’s new series “Superior Donuts.” In 2017 he’ll be in Showtime’s reboot of “Twin Peaks.”
ALIVE recently spoke to Koechner about his career, his Missouri roots and his upcoming gigs at the Funny Bone St. Louis (614 Westport Plaza Drive).
ALIVE: Can you talk about growing up in Tipton?
David Koechner: Well it’s a small town of 2000 people, a very Midwestern town, and a farming community where people have a heart of gold. It was fun, although I always knew I kind of wanted to do something a bit bigger. Small towns suit some people, but for me it wasn’t the best fit.
Tell us about your road trip experiences in Missouri.
Like most families, we’d vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks each summer. We’d go down there with cousins or friends. We would vacation all over the state. I remember going to Silver Dollar City many times as a kid, and also Six Flags in St. Louis and Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. We also went to the Arch and the St. Louis Zoo.
How does being from Missouri inform your comedy?
There are some characters that I do that I met along the way. I worked for my dad for a long time, so the people that he employed and the people who would come through there were all very rich characters or personalities. Then I worked for my uncle at this gas station and beer joint in the center of town, and there was a guy that came through there who was a drifter who came by one summer while I was working. He was a roofer and he was kind of a colorful guy. In fact I have based some of my material on him.
Do you miss any home state food?
Well Missouri, like every state, wants to brag that it has the best barbeque, right? Now my wife is from Kansas City and they love to say they have the best barbecue. I would say that in Tipton, the thing I always get when I come to town there’s a little shop called the 5&50 Drive-In, and they have got a great burger and great ice cream. So I always have to go there.
Continue the interview below.
Give us some information about your new show “Superior Donuts.”
It’s a great show. The cast is really amazing, and the writing is really sharp and dealing with a lot of issues that are not necessarily being tackled on network television now. We’re a very diverse show and that’s good because we deal with things that are relevant to what is happening in the country now.
How is your character “Tush” similar to other lovable guys in in sitcoms?
In comedy there are seven stock characters, and I would say Norm from “Cheers” and sitcom characters like him usually line up the same way. Tush is one of those standard guys that everyone knows who haunts one particular joint that is his sort of second home. Tush, in particular used to be a factory worker and the factory went away, so now he does whatever he can to survive. He takes all kinds of different jobs.
Thinking about the sitcom’s title, what are the best donuts you ever had?
That’s a question I guess I am going to be asked a lot now. The first time I ever ate a Krispy Kreme donut, I was pretty blown away. They are pretty hard to beat. There’s also the famous place in New Orleans with beignets [Café Du Monde] and bunch of donut shops out here in California that create all kinds of crazy donuts. There’s also that place in Portland [Voodoo Donuts]; I’ve eaten there when I’ve done shows.
What should audiences in St. Louis expect from your stand-up set?
It’s stand-up, but from my point of view. It’s also infused with characters and stories. I’m a father of five whose been married for eighteen years, so that’s my life and you tend to put that out on display and use that for comedy fodder.
I have some friends and family that live in the area. My uncle is bringing a large contingent on Saturday night. I’m sure that will jar some good memories or cause some spontaneous moments.
What was it like to work on the new “Twin Peaks” series?
I can only tell you that I am in it and it was a thrill to do. That one is under wraps. I was thrilled to be a part of it, and to work with David Lynch was just one of the highlights of my career for sure. But I will tell you this. Here’s how tight-lipped the production is: I don’t know if I am in one episode or three or four. I know how many days I worked, I know how many weeks I worked, but I don’t know how many episodes I’m in. It’s kind of a fun mystery for me as well.
Are you surprised by the timelessness of the “Anchorman” films?
Yeah, I’m delighted. I get it because when we were making it, I thought “My god, this is unique and special,” and for it to only grow in its popularity gives you a deep sense of pride. As a movie, “Anchorman” pretty much has it all. It’s really a deeply-rooted smart satire, but at the same time you have these other broad pieces that are very satisfying for the audience.
Your career has found you being part of many great “cult” projects.
Yes, especially shows like “The Office.” There are several of my films that have taken on this culty status. There’s a film called “Waiting” that everyone in the food service industry has watched, and a film called “Out Cold” that a certain age group has all watched. It’s interesting when you run into people to see which projects have been dear to their childhood or something like that. It’s fun to be part of people’s life.
Showtimes for David Koechner at the Funny Bone:
Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov 4, 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5, 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
For tickets or information, call (314) 469-6692 or visit stlouisfunnybone.com