Sportscaster Champ Kind from “Anchorman,” Michael Scott’s best friend Todd Packer from “The Office”: Comedian David Koechner is best-known for playing a certain kind of deranged, wanna-be macho weirdo on screen, but in real life, he’s your everyday family man. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, five kids, and at least one dog we could hear barking in the background as we talked by phone about his stand-up tour, which stops at the Black Cat in D.C. on Saturday night. Koechner, 51, got his start with famed improv group Second City and went on to star in many cult favorite movies, along with parts in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Talladega Nights” “Get Smart” and many more. He’s had several TV appearances, including a memorable episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Koechner discussed going back to his live comedy roots doing stand-up; his excitement about a song-and-dance number in the new, R-rated version of “Anchorman 2″ released this week, and what it was like playing an actual villain in his new indie film, “Cheap Thrills,” out March 21.
Have you performed in DC before?
Not stand-up, but years ago, I went with the Second City and we did a show at the Kennedy Center, a three-week run there.
Does performing live on stage bring you back to your Second City days?
Yeah, there’s nothing like live – it’s the best, it really is. I love it. It’s communal engagement: We’re all making an agreement that I’m funny. (Cracks himself up.) Well, the truer thing is, we’re in agreement this particular set of circumstances is funny. It’s just like going to a movie, we’re all agreeing we’re enjoying this thing together…that’s why it’s important. Everyone says movies are over, blah blah blah, then boom we have the biggest year on record for movies. I think it’s an important part of humanity is that we go and share stories together.
“Anchorman 2” is re-releasing an R-rated version of the movie this week with lots of new jokes – when you saw that, did you think, “Oh God, they’re putting all that in the movie?”
Oh no, we were hoping for it earlier. We had been lobbying the director to “Kill Bill” the first movie, you know, cut it in two. Because we knew we had so much material that couldn’t possibly make the movie, that we were like, “Please put it out somehow!” So now they’re doing it. And I know it’s just for a week, but at least that stuff is going to get released. There’s a great song and dance number in the movie which was one of my favorite scenes that had to go. Now there’s a chance to see that on the big screen.
It was a long road for the “Anchorman” sequel. Was it like you all [Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, etc.] had just seen each other yesterday?
It really was, it didn’t feel like it had been nine years. I see these guys at least once or twice a year anyway, but yeah, it felt just like riding a bike, just back at it.
What’s your most popular quote that people yell at you if they see you on the street?
(laughs) That would have to be “Whammy!”
Which character do people recognize you as most often?
I get mostly “Anchorman” and “The Office.” Occasionally “Out Cold,” “Waiting…” and “Run, Ronnie, Run.” Those other ones are more cult favorites.
Are you looking to do more TV in the future?
Definitely, I would rather stay home in L.A. Films tend to be shot everywhere else now. And so I’m developing a variety show for NBC, we’re going to shoot it in April, and then I’m hoping that we get picked up and have a long run.
With all your characters, there’s sort of a line between bad behavior and being actually evil. In “Cheap Thrills,” that guy you play looks like a total sociopath.
He really is! One could argue every character I have ever played is a sociopath, but this is a different breed of sociopath, he’s more sinister. It was fantastic to play, something completely different. I have rarely gotten the opportunity to dig deeper and play something like this, and I welcomed it.
Were you looking to do something different?
I’m always looking for work. (laughs) But that one found me and I was very happy to say yes.
Koechner will perform stand-up at the Black Cat on Saturday, March 1 at 9 p.m.