David Koechner secures Tenure as comedy legend!
David Koechner is an improv legend and SNL veteran who has starred in such classic cult hits as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Snakes on a Plane and Run, Ronnie, Run (just to name a slight few). He also co-created the infamous The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show, appearing as Gerald Tibbons, half of the comic musical duo who once toured this great country alongside Dave "Gruber" Allen, bringing their dynamic show from one knick-knack truck stop shack to the next before landing a short-lived stint on Comedy Central and then disbanding completely. Not to fret, though, as we recently caught up with Mr. Koechner to celebrate the upcoming DVD release of his latest comedy Tenure. The always gracious icon of unparallel comedic genius assured us that Ol' T-Bone Tibbons, the Naked Trucker, and the Dick Around Gang are indeed gearing up for another round of live shows as well as a movie, and that Anchorman 2 will most likely happen in the "somewhat" near future. He also told us a little bit more about his latest film, and the new KFC Double-Down sandwich. Here's our conversation with Dave:
How have you been?
David Koechner: I've been great. Thank you.
You sure have a lot of stuff coming out!
David Koechner: I think its all come out. We're at the tail end. Let's see. What else is left? I've got this DVD release. The Perfect Game, which is also out this month. And then A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. That's pretty much it.
That's all you've got going on?
I want to get your take on this. Have you seen the big news of the day?
David Koechner: The big news?
Yeah, KFC has made this new sandwich where they threw out the bun and replaced it with two deep-fried chicken patties? It's the Double-Down!
David Koechner: Oh my gosh, really? Two pieces of fried chicken? What's in the middle?
Cheese and bacon!
David Koechner: Oh my gosh! Well, if I were younger, man, I would love it. But now that I have four kids and high cholesterol, that's a travesty!
That's the big argument today. This is a heart attack waiting to happen to a country full of starving people standing in line to taste this sandwich.
David Koechner: It is odd. It flies in the face of what people are earnestly trying to do. I am happy that this is part of Michelle Obama's charge right now. Child obesity and diabetes. They just passed this health care bill. All Americans should take better care of themselves. And now KFC brings this out. It sounds like guilt, almost. Doesn't it?
Once you see this sandwich, you know you're going to want to eat it. It's hard to resist. You just want to taste it.
David Koechner: Maybe one time. But this flies in the face of what KFC was doing recently with their grilled chicken.
That's the big controversy. This does go against their recent healthier menu.
David Koechner: What does KFC have to say about all this?
Nothing. They just put out the press release, and they are leaving it at that.
David Koechner: Wow! I guess what they are saying is, "It worked. We are getting some press!"
Yeah. I know about the sandwich. Now you know about the sandwich. By the end of the day, everyone is going to know about this crazy sandwich.
David Koechner: I will tell you this. I know that health education is working in schools. Especially when my kids say they don't want fast food. I want it more than they do. I will suggest that we drive through a drive-through, and they will say, "No!" That is only positive.
It's a good thing. Now, I guess we better talk about this movie...
David Koechner: (Laughs!)
Let's say the apocalypse is coming. As you're heading into the mountains, and you are packing your backpack, is Tenure one of the DVDs you bring with you, to preserve not only your work in this world, but also as a statement on humanity in its final hours?
David Koechner: That is a loaded question. Boy, do I answer as a diplomat? Or do I answer as an honest man? I would say the fact that it is being released only on DVD may answer that question. The honest answer would be no. Right? Did you see it?
What project sticks out as the one you are most proud of so far?
I love you in that movie!
You'll hate my answer on this. But I don't think you've ever been as funny as some of the scenes in Run, Ronnie, Run! Even though that was another direct-to-DVD movie.
David Koechner: That was a good movie. And thank you for that. I forgot about that movie. That is very kind. I would pick that movie, sure.
I don't think there has been a more quoted moment between me and my friends than, "Eat that vomit, dog!" When we are partying, out of any other film, that moment comes up the most.
David Koechner: (Laughs) That's so great. Fantastic!
Did you actually sit down and watch the DVD for Tenure?
David Koechner: I saw it a while back. I don't know if it's changed since I saw it.
I wanted to get your thoughts on the outtakes. Have you seen them?
David Koechner: No. How are they?
They are all you. And you look like a camera hogging diva. I talked to director Mike Million, and they thought that stuff was funny, but maybe not taken out of context. I wanted to get your opinion on it.
David Koechner: I haven't seen them. What happens in them?
There is one bit where you are yelling at Million for cutting you off during a scene. And a bunch of moments of you jumping into frame, wanting your coverage.
David Koechner: That was a joke I would do at the end of takes. "You might use it?" I would jump in front of the camera at the tail end of a take and go, "You might use it?" I did that to keep the crew happy. Is it funny? You make it sound obnoxious.
Its both. It's funny and a bit obnoxious. That's why I wanted to get your take on it. I know where you're coming from. I've seen you on set before. But I wasn't sure how other people might react to it. That's why I ask.
David Koechner: Yeah. Out of context, people will probably look at that and go, "Wow, what a jerk!" I haven't seen it. I don't have control over that. Maybe it's just a lesson for me to be a bit more judicious when the camera is rolling. Huh?
David Koechner: You never know. Out of context, people can cut together anything they want. Right?
I don't want you to stop that kind of stuff. When I was on the set of Get Smart, you were everyone's favorite amongst the press people. You are always so personable and so funny. But it does look a little weird when you pull some of that footage together out of context. If I'm sitting here watching it with someone out in the middle of nowhere, and they don't know you, it might look a little obnoxious.
David Koechner: Oh, well. I can't control that. Hopefully there is some glimmer that they might think I am trying to have a party. To me, that's what work should be. Lets have fun. When you get the chance to actually be on a set? You better make the most of it.
No doubt! You brought up Anchorman as one of your personal favorites. There was some new a few weeks back, but you can never believe anything on the internet. Will Ferrell said that he really wanted to do a sequel, but it was on hold because he couldn't get all of you guys back together again. Who's the hold out? Is there a hold out? What's the news on that?
David Koechner: There is no hold out. We are just trying to get everyone's schedule to work. We all share the same manager, and we have spoken. That story came out of nowhere. I know that everyone wants it to happen. The issue is what the studio is willing to pay. Those things are always economic. It has nothing to do with the players. It's due to the economy of the studio. Anything that ever happens is a numbers game. Like casting? Look at the people who win Academy awards. And when they are going to work again. When do they get their price? When do they get to lead a movie? They might be the greatest actor that anyone ever recognizes. Whether or not they get to do what they want to do in their careers is a different story. Because it's all economics. People in power don't give a shit. They say, "Is that going to make me money or not?" That's all anyone cares about. Money. Because you have to remember, there are only five companies that make everything and control everything in the media. What is their best interest? They have to serve their stockholders. And they have to line their pockets. That's all that matters. Now I will never work again (laughs).
You bring up economics. I want to ask you about something that is a favorite of mine, that you were involved with. The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show. I know you guys came out on Comedy Central, then it disappeared really quick. And you weren't happy with how that all went down. Is there any chance we will ever see the show on DVD? And is Gerald Tibbons retired permanently?
David Koechner: No, Gerald is not retired. I put a call into Dave Allen yesterday, and I said, "Let's do it, man! Lets get the band back together." I am also writing a Naked Trucker and Gerald movie. And, if nothing happens, I am probably going to put the show out on DVD myself. Until I get sued by Viacom.
Is that a real possibility? That you would do that? I think they might still be on Itunes, but I haven't checked in a while.
David Koechner: Apparently it is on Itunes. But there is no reason for people to be driven to that.
I can't watch it on that little screen. It drives me nuts.
David Koechner: I think people still want the tape. They still want to buy the video. People that are my age? Even down to your age, where that might be the tail end of it...We still would like to have the DVD of it. We want a hard copy. I like having something tactile. You like to hold the thing. That's your business. There aren't CDs anymore. You just download the music. You don't get to see the liner notes. You don't get to see all of those extra things that used to be a part of the experience of buying music. For you and me, the experience of buying movies is the same. My son just downloads it from the Internet. He puts it on his Itouch. I can't believe that's where people want to watch their movies. I ask him, "Don't you want to watch it on the television? I can show you how to hook that up." He says, "No." They have a different personal way of interacting with it.
What are your plans are for The Naked Trucker movie? I know you had a film in the works before the TV show came out. How has your idea to bring this world onto the screen changed since then?
David Koechner: Yeah, that never happened. We were going to make the film, but when the TV show didn't work, the studio head said, "I think its been over exposed." Which I think is a polite way of saying, "It didn't work on television. Why would we make the movie?" And they were right. But that will change. In time, people will forget the experience of the TV show. I will find a different way to get better exposure for it in a way that I can have more control. I will make it work this time.
I don't want you to undersell the TV show, either. Everyone I show it to loves it.
David Koechner: I loved the show! I am proud of that show. They just sold it wrong. They marketed it as blue collar television. They called it road house comedy, which is there wink at blue collar. We had emphatically pleaded with them from the very start. Never sell this as blue collar. That's the first thing they did.
You guys aren't in there with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable guy.
David Koechner: I nearly didn't support the show. I nearly didn't support doing the press just because of that. It was such a slap in the face. We had pleaded with them the entire time. I thought it was pretty unprofessional of them on their part. I thought. There is a whole different regime at Comedy Central now. The people who made the show are gone. I have to be thankful that I got the opportunity to make that show. Like my wife says, I was in charge. I can't complain about anything. But apparently I will. I didn't have the power to say, "No! I'm not going to do it that way." But I went along. The problem was the format. Which was what I call the Chappelle model. Because people know who Dave Chappelle is. The way he would come out and introduce the show. Then go into the sketches. That was a perfect format. But it didn't work for what we were doing. And they didn't have the understanding to see that wasn't going to work for us.
The movie is still going to be a musical, right?
David Koechner: I think so.
I hope so. I love your music. Listening to the CD, the show never gets old. It's not like a comedy disc, where you listen to the jokes one time and you never want to hear it again.
David Koechner: That is very good to hear.
I think that has a lot to do with the music you guys were doing. That's why I hope the movie is a musical.
David Koechner: Yeah, yeah. I want it to be more akin to The Blues Brothers type show. Where you have the music interspersed. And it can be popular music. Not necessarily stuff that is generated from us.
I think that would be awesome. But that comes from an unabashed fan of the show.
David Koechner: We think alike in that regard.
Let's go back to Tenure for a minute. You have quite a few dramatic scenes in this film, and you are very good in it. Do you think you'll be doing more dramatic work in the near future?
David Koechner: I certainly welcome that. I had a conversation with a woman awhile ago. People don't think of me that way. But the audience is willing to accept anything that works. The difference is, can you get whoever is writing the picture, or directing the picture, to see you in that regard. I think, slowly, they will. Did you see Extract?
No. I didn't get to see that.
David Koechner: There was another great opportunity for me. Mike Judge is an amazing writer and director. The guy writes characters that you can pull on like a glove or a sock. Or a great pair of pants. "Wow, this just fits!" In that one, I got to play a guy who was completely different. That was a lot of fun.
What is going on with Get Smart 2?
David Koechner: That? I don't know anything about. I now very little about it. I know they want to do more. I have heard different things. Like, there was a new script. Maybe Steve had something. I don't know. I do know that all of the participants want to do it again. Steve wants to do it again. But his schedule is crazy. Steve is a great family man as well. That weighs into his decisions. It's very important for him to make time for his family. Right now he can do only two films a year.
I guess that's what happens when you are on a TV show. You were on the new Kelsey Grammer show. Right? But that's off the air. What happened with that?
David Koechner: (Laughs) They shot ten and aired five. It failed due to poor ratings. That was last fall.
I guess we don't need to talk about that. I just remember seeing a picture of you on that show. And I never did see the actual show. I don't pay attention to network television too much. Are you still friends with Bob Odenkirk?
David Koechner: Yeah.
I've been watching Breaking Bad. Have you had a chance to see that yet?
David Koechner: No, I haven't. Bob's on that!?! That is fantastic!
He plays Saul Goodman, a lawyer. He is so awesome. I was glad to see him on the show. It's a surprise.
I'll ask you one more question about the movie Tenure. A lot of aspiring comedians look up to you, and from my own personal experience, I know that you are always very giving in terms of helping out your fellow artist. Was it easy for you to step into the shoes of a teacher? And to identify with his lack of acceptance from his superiors in this film?
David Koechner: I'd say yes. I really enjoyed making this movie with Million. He made it easy for me to understand what this character was going through. And like you just said, perhaps I have some parallel issues in my life. I don't mind having opinions and telling people what I think. Whether they are mainstream or not. That is something I can identify with. I have a desire to communicate those ideas. So, yeah. I am completely down with what Professor Hadley is going through.
And we have Big Foot. It seems like you've tussled with Big Foot before in your career. Or is this the first time? It seems like you've wrestled Big Foot at some point, but I'm not sure.
David Koechner: It seems like something I could have done. No, I don't think so. I think this is the first time I have ever had a Big Foot encounter.
What did you think of that throughline in the film? There is a deleted scene that you may not have seen, where your character stumbles upon an actual Big Foot.
David Koechner: I knew that was cut from the movie. I would have left it in, personally. But, hey! You know what? Those things in the movie are real. This is based on a professor who actually did his thesis on Big Foot. He might have been in the Western part of the United States, and these guys in the movie are in the Eastern part of the United States. But it is based on true knowledge of Big Foot, and these findings did come from an Academic.
Do you believe in Big Foot yourself?
David Koechner: No.
What bring you to that conclusion?
David Koechner: There is no way that Big Foot could hide in this day and age. There is no way that a species could exist. It would have to propagate itself. For these many years, it would have had to have had a tribe, a clan, whatever you want to call it. A pride of these things. They would have to exist for a couple of hundred years. There is no evidence of that. There would have to be a discovery. We've discovered dinosaur bones. Right? (Laugh) We've never discovered Big Foot bones. Something down the line would have to happen. They could not exist in a small pod like that. There couldn't have only been eight or twelve of them. Over a hundred years. There would have to be at least twenty or thirty of them to exist. Right?
I would think so, yeah.
David Koechner: There would have to be some evidence somewhere. If these spotting are happening not only in one part of the United States, but all over...Sometimes they are Northern, but it seems like they are spotted all throughout the West. The Mid-West. And the North-East. There have been sightings everywhere. Which would mean that there are hundreds of these creatures. But even by now, never having seen one, or never having seen any evidence of one, they can't exist.
Did you see the Montauk monster that washed up on the shores of Upper New York state?
David Koechner: No. Was that a deep sea creature?
No. They couldn't figure out what it was. They think it came from Plum Island, where they do a lot of biological research. But they weren't sure.
David Koechner: Did it look like an octopus?
No, it resembled a shaved dog. But it had a beak. I thought maybe you'd seen that.
David Koechner: I haven't. I would be delighted to find out that there is a Big Foot. Or a Sasquatch. Or whatever it is. Where do you stand on it?
I'd like to believe in it. But you just blew all of my hopes and dreams out of the water.
David Koechner: (Laughs) I hold out very little hope. I don't understand how one could scientifically go through it and say, "Yeah, that is possible." It just doesn't sound possible at this point.
Tenure arrives on DVD April 13th, 2010. And be sure to check out the film at its official Facebook page.