Stand-up comedian, actor David Koechner is a man of many hats

David Koechner The Office
Mandee Johnson

Whether you know him from ‘Anchorman’ or ‘Talladega Nights’, ‘The Goldbergs’ or ‘The Office’, chances are comic giant David Koechner has made you laugh.

And there will be plenty more of that this weekend.

Koechner is set to perform at Helium Comedy Club for three nights, one of which will be solely dedicated to ‘The Office’ trivia. And he’ll do the whole thing in character as Todd Packer.

Koechner spoke to Metro before his Philly showcase.

Mandee Johnson

You have a connection to the Philly area from your long-time gig on ‘The Goldbergs’ and, of course, ‘The Office’. What is your take on Philly?

I love Philadelphia. I used to be there a lot as a kid because, as a grade schooler, my family had cousins in Philly. I’m a huge history buff, so every time that we travelled there, I ate it up.

You’re actually focusing one of your shows on all things ‘The Office’. Why do you believe that docu-comedy is so beloved? 

When kids come to ‘The Office’ at, say, the age of 12, it is the first time that they are starting to understand adult humor. They’re getting the jokes, so they are thrilled. At the same time, they are coming to the understanding that all adults are stupid. That attitude prevails throughout high school, and in college, becomes a bonding experience. The jokes take on deeper meaning.

‘The Office’ makes leaving college and going into the work force less intimidating – it is a rite of passage, because it is a bag of idiots. When they get to the workplace, their beliefs are confirmed, and know that they’ll be fine. Everyone here is an idiot. Surely someone has written a doctoral thesis on this. Whether, it is any good, who knows? The popularity of ‘The Office’ exceeds that of any other television show I have been part of, or witnessed.

Whether it’s newer, more dramatic work like ‘Dotty & Soul’, or classic comedies like ‘Anchorman’, what do you believe directors want when they call for David Koechner?

(*Laughs*) That’s quite a philosophical, speculative question. I guess they need someone to be funny, even if the role isn’t exactly that funny to begin with. I think what’s great about directors, now, is that they are interested in showcasing actors in a different light, that comedians don’t necessarily need to only be comedic. Then again, I’ve never asked a director that question, why I got that job.

Perhaps a large part of that comes from your time in sketch comedy and improvisation with ‘Second City’ in Chicago, then at ‘Saturday Night Live’?

When it comes to improvisation… you’re read the book, ‘Outliers. It’s about putting your 10,000 hours in. When I was in Chicago, I was on stage five-nights-a-week, whether it was in class or doing shows. That informed everything I did afterwards, and made all the difference in my life. Also, the attitude of everybody at ‘Second City’ wasn’t ever about being in a rush to get famous. It was only about wanting to do good work – I wanted to show up and be known as something good, not as a hack, or cheap or cheesy. I wanted to be good.

Was your time on ‘SNL’ satisfying? You had one full year in.

It was very satisfying. It was just confusing as to why they didn’t renew my contract. Then again, there were two guys there that I pissed off (laughs) whose names I won’t say, who just happened to be hacks themselves. One guy was a producer, and the other is still a television producer – he’s definitely a hack, a nobody and an uninteresting person. I know that Lorne (Michaels) wanted to keep me, but there was a push-pull with NBC West Coast at that time as it was the same year that ‘Mad-TV’ and Howard Stern’s late show debuted, and acted as competition. He could only protect so many pawns.

Was it an easy transition moving from sketch and improv to being on stage alone, telling jokes?

No. That’s because improvisation is you onstage making stuff up with a partner. Now, it’s you, onstage, and your partner is the audience. My stand-up show, now, isn’t all improvised, of course. But being onstage in that idiom, that communion with the audience feels natural to me. When I come up with stuff for the stage, it’s an exploration. And the audience is guiding you – telling you what is funny, sometimes. They’re guiding me at least as much as I’m guiding them.

David Koechner will perform at Helium Comedy Club June 8-10. For information and tickets, visit