David Koechner backstage at his show in Tipton
By Evan Wood
David Koechner performed his stand up set in Missouri two weeks ago, but not at a venue you’d expect. Far from being a comedy club or theater, the St. Andrew School gym in Tipton doesn't exactly attract big name headliners. So why was this famous comedic actor – recognizable from films such as Anchorman and Thank You For Smoking – doing a set there?
For starters, David is a Tipton native. You can read about his time growing up in Tipton from the profile we did on him in the October 2011 issue. But even taking in to consideration his hometown roots, there is admittedly a logistical gap in between visiting his home and performing a set there. According to David, when he’s asked to do a more unconventional show, it depends on his relationship with the person who asks. So when his brother Mark called him earlier this year and asked if he would perform at the Tipton Chamber of Commerce’s annual appreciation dinner, David wasn't sure what to think.
As an actor primarily his career is in Los Angeles, and as a husband and father of five, that’s where his family is too. From David’s perspective, it would have been difficult to leave both his professional and home life for a small show that he’d have likely had to pay his own way to perform. But David had an idea: open the show up to the town.
“Let me put on a show,” as he put it.
And so his two-night performance at the St. Andrew School came into fruition. The arrangements were made, tickets were sold, concessions—including cold beer, a staple at any comedy show—were prepared. This way, David’s cost of transportation could at least be covered, and he could come home to perform for the town he grew up in.
As for performing for an audience with people who in some cases have known him his whole life, David says his set was pretty much the same one he takes on the road for his regular stand up shows. Rather than over thinking a set tailored to his hometown, David decided to keep it simple.
“Neurosis won’t serve you,” he explains.
The way the audience reacts to his set depends on their own taste, and if a crowd doesn't like his brand of humor ... “I can't do anything about it," David says .
The show did come with a twenty-one and over age restriction, and the material was definitely more suited to an adult audience. That being said, David said he allows space for tangents in the set. He explained that he might want to deviate based on his train of thought, or on people he recognized at the show, and David spotted some familiar faces in the crowd. At one point he settled a long-standing wager with an old friend, and used that as a basis to establish a running joke that had the audience beside themselves with laughter.
“I’m just doing what I do” says David. Although performing for an audience that includes numerous family members and old friends could have been stressful, he seemed completely in his element. He built a rapport with the audience from the start, descending from the stage early on and working the entire room. The set was the result of a blend of versatility and charisma, and its humor landed all across the board.
David may work out of Los Angeles, but it’s unique shows like this that give us good reason to keep the Missouri native on our minds.