During stand-up gigs, David Koechner offers fans a night at ‘The Office’

The former Chicago actor, who played Todd Packer on the classic sitcom, will revive the character during his upcoming stint in Batavia.

SHARE During stand-up gigs, David Koechner offers fans a night at ‘The Office’
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After getting his start in Chicago, David Koechner went on to roles on “Saturday Night Live,” the “Anchorman” movies and “The Office.”

Courtesy David Koechner

Some actors have been blessed with a signature role that stands the test of time. For actor-comic David Koechner, that bit of magic came courtesy of his recurring role as the notorious Todd Packer on the sitcom classic “The Office.”

A full decade after its nine-season run came to an end in 2013, Koechner has continued to be a busy presence in plenty of TV and film roles. But his main focus these days is a thriving stand-up comedy career, in which he performs as himself for a couple of nights at each club but also spends an evening hosting a raucous “Office” trivia/Q&A show in the persona of Packer.

Koechner will be bringing both sides of his comedic talents to the stage of the Comedy Vault in Batavia this weekend, with the Packer show on Thursday night and regular stand-up on Friday and Saturday. For him, it’s a welcome return to the Chicago area, where the Missouri native got his start in the mid-1980s.

Koechner

David Koechner

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday (‘The Office’ trivia with Todd Packer), 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Comedy Vault, 18 E. Wilson St., Batavia

Tickets: Sold out

“The clear thirst for all things ‘Office’ is what prompted me to do it. I travel with my feature comic Rob Maher and he and I do a two-person evening,” explains Koechner. “He said we should do it and we came up with the show, which is a combination of trivia, stand-up and stories and behind-the-scenes bits. It’s hosted by the ‘real’ Todd Packer, and right away it took off. It now sells faster than my stand-up shows.”

The Packer shows feature plenty of interaction, as two teams of audience members compete against each other, ultimately doing a “scene” with Packer to determine the winner. Koechner is looking forward to a particularly raucous show on Thursday, as he believes that local audiences have a special afinity for comedy.

“Chicago’s a great theater town. Not every town is blessed with that kind of passion, understanding the ready availability of theater that Chicago has,” notes Koechner. “So I used to say if you can’t get on stage in Chicago, you shouldn’t be doing this because there are plenty of opportunities. It’s a community that supports the arts and supports comedy. Chicago is the place to study comedy. Probably because the Second City, and then that sprouted all these other improv institutions there.”

Drawn by that legendary comedy institution in 1986, Koechner put aside his political science college studies and desire to be in politics after he “realized that you have to either be from a wealthy political family or the smartest person in any room you went into, and realized I’m none of those things, so I made a change of direction.”

His career switch was also inspired by the fact he had long loved “Saturday Night Live” and dreamed of being in the show’s cast. After studying at Second City and under Del Close at the ImprovOlympic, he indeed made the “SNL” cast for one season, and his comedy career was launched.

One of Koechner’s most popular roles — that of rambunctious sportscaster Champ Kind in the “Anchorman” movies — stemmed from a key relationship he developed in Chicago. His friendship with then-fellow performer Adam McKay blossomed into the part in the two-movie franchise, which McKay wrote and directed, allowing a great deal of improv on the set to acquire the biggest laughs possible.

“In ‘The Office,’ we didn’t improvise because you had a team of writers working 40 hours to perfect a 22 ½-minute script each week, and they were so good you had to respect their writing completely,” recalls the devoutly Catholic father of five who inspire a great deal of his regular standup act. “With ‘Anchorman,’ Adam knew how to harness improv so well that it always served as a source of inspiration and great lines.”

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