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Comedic Roots: David Koechner Returns as Champ, America’s Favorite Fake Sportscaster, in Anchorman 2

Anchorman's David Koechner gets down and dirty. Anchorman's David Koechner gets down and dirty.

 

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve likely seen the movie poster for the long anticipated Anchorman 2 (in theaters Dec. 20). The ad features the four classic members of the KVWN-San Diego news team; arrogant title character Ron Burgundy (played by Will Ferrell), mentally-challenged weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), ladies’ man and field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Stetson-wearing sportscaster Champion “Champ” Kind (played by…um…that guy with the cowboy hat).


The actor whose name doesn’t immediately come to mind is David Koechner. But while his real name might not be as widely known as his co-stars’, that certainly doesn’t keep fans from shouting out famous lines (“I miss your musk!”) to the 51-year-old actor whose IMDB reads like a history of modern comedy, from Freaks and Geeks to The Office.


Koechner has been in the spotlight since appearing on the 1995 – 96 season of Saturday Night Live. This morning, however, he has been roasting under a grow light for his Rosebud photo shoot. Afterwards, we are supposed to conduct our interview at the house he shares with his wife, Leigh, and their five kids. But Koechner is hungry, so we meander across the street to a no-frills diner, where he intently studies the menu before ordering.

We were going to start rehearsing for a Broadway musical version of the first Anchorman.


“How many biscuits come with the biscuits and gravy?” he asks our attentive waitress in a tone that, if spoken by one of his characters, would come across as comically condescending. In real life, it is clearly a serious question.


When she tells him the meal comes with two dough-circles, he drops the façade. “That’s too many,” he mocks. “I’ll have one,” and here is where the comedy really begins, “with a lot a gravy. They give you a lot of gravy?”


Like many comedians, at least the ones who aren’t sad and damaged in real life, Koechner can seem like he is trying to be funny, even when at his most earnest. It is impossible to tell if this is caused by his demeanor or my expectations. But over our breakfast, it becomes clear that he is completely sincere when it comes to being a family man and an actor who works hard at his craft. We also chat about how Anchorman almost became a Broadway musical, why he believes he can raise his kids in LA with the same values as those he grew up with in the Midwest (hint: it involves gardening), and the most harrowing road trip of all time.


Rosebud: When did the seeds for Anchorman 2 start coming together?


David Koechner: This is going to sound like it’s a tale, but it’s true. In the spring of 2010, we were going to start rehearsing for a Broadway musical version of the first Anchorman. Then that fall, we were going to begin filming whatever Anchorman 2 was [going to be] at that point. I think it had been green lit or approved, but then, my understanding is that it was too crazy an idea, and then it got cancelled.


Then I heard rumblings in January 2012. I finally got confirmation in March, the same day that Will appeared on Conan [in character as Ron Burgundy.] He figured, “let’s announce it,” even though the script wasn’t written.


What was it like going back to the Champ Kind character?


There’s really no apprehension. I already know how to do it. We’ve all been doing this a long time, so what it really amounts to is “Wow, I can’t believe we’re going to have this much fun again.” That’s what it’s like. Let’s just go have a blast.


There was no added nerves, since the first one was such a big hit?


Where would the pressure come from? It would have to come from yourself – and what good are you doing yourself by adding pressure? There’s the script, and it’s hilarious. I guess you could say there would be more pressure on [the writers] Adam [McKay] and Will than the players. But if you ever get a chance to meet McKay, he is one of the brightest guys I ever met in my life and certainly one of the funniest. There’s no real fear at all, because he’s a joyful human being and he just loves it and has a blast.


People always talk about improv on the sets of movies like this...


 [Well, in this case,] McKay had a microphone on a speaker, so he would just throw lines out. That’s the most efficient way to do it, rather than cutting, going and having a discussion. For Anchorman, when you ask how much we improvised, it was really McKay writing more.


How do you feel about being on the poster with three guys who’ve essentially become comedy legends?


It’s an ensemble piece. It’s fun for me because then my kids see it and say, “Look, that’s daddy!”


Five kids. That’s pretty unheard of in Hollywood.


There’s a quote from Michelangelo, “Genius is eternal patience.” I think about that in terms of parenting, because it’s so easy to lose your patience, because we have things that we want to do – but their priority is our time. That’s all they want. They want your time. So, that’s the best thing I can give them. When I’m home, I just try to be with them.


Do you think that attitude comes from your Midwestern upbringing?


I grew up in a small town in Missouri. My father grew up on a farm and so did my mother, but my father was a manufacturer. He made livestock trailers for turkeys. I worked at his manufacturing plant starting at age seven, at first cleaning up, then eventually learning to weld and do metal fabrication and all that stuff.


All my buddies had farms, everybody except us. Which is fine, because if I had been on a farm, that would have meant even more work. So, I wasn’t necessarily envious. I do remember digging potatoes. The way you dig potatoes is you’ve got to get in the dirt, and root up roots. We’d bale hay. Stuff like that.


Are you a gardener today? Do you encourage your kids to grow plants?


Because we live in Los Angeles and we live in a valley, we’re really not supposed to grow a lot of stuff. I put the lawn in four times. Then they had the watering restrictions [due to drought], and the sod died again. I said that’s enough. So I put in AstroTurf in my backyard.


I live on a beautiful tree-lined street, and they all canopy during the summer. So I really have just one little plot of growth in the front of my house. I was at my buddy’s house the other day, and he’s got a bunch of plant boxes, and he’s been growing a garden. I’ve always wanted to grow a garden for the kids just so they can see how things works. After today, I’m going to pull all the stuff up there, put in some good soil and start to grow, because it’s exciting for the kids, and it’s another thing we can do together.


What are your other favorite things to do with the kids?


We did an eight-day RV trip this past summer. Those are fun. We always did those as kids.


Any trips really stand out?


In high school we had a foreign exchange student from Australia. He came back to visit when we were in our 20s, and we went on a trip through Colorado. He and I had gotten high, and I’m thinking, I’m just going to chill in the back of the RV when my dad announces, “Dave, why don’t you drive?”


And man, I’m freaking out, but I can’t do anything. Steady as she goes. Meanwhile my friend, the foreign exchange student, is in the back just freaking out, because he’s realizing how he feels, and he knows I feel the same way, and I’m driving. But we made it. Not even a scratch.


And now it’s super legal in that part of the country.


There you go. I still wouldn’t recommend it, though. We should be sober to drive.

 

Check out these amazing videos from David Koechner's youtube channel:









 

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2013

photographs by Jiro Schneider
Makeup/Grooming: Homa Safar



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Last modified on Monday, 18 November 2013 23:26

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