Actor and comedian David Koechner is thinking hard about how he will wave to the crowds while serving as grand marshal of this year’s Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
During these turbulent times, he’s thinking of implementing a symbol of acceptance and harmony, though he is certain of one thing: “My wave will be less masculine than the Queen of England’s,” he said via phone Thursday.
“You do have to be careful with regards to a wave because it could always be interpreted as a signal,” he joked. “One has to be considerate that you have a neutral wave. It begs the question: ‘How can one have a wave that is neutral yet memorable? That doesn’t offend or seem like it has an intention?’ I think you always win with a peace sign.”
The Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee announced Friday, Feb. 23, that Koechner, who was born in Tipton, Mo., will be grand marshal for the 2018 parade.
Koechner is known his roles as sportscaster Champ Kind in the two blockbuster films, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” and as the obnoxious Todd Packer on NBC’s “The Office.”
He is currently starring alongside Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal in the CBS sitcom “Superior Donuts,” and had a recurring role on ABC’s “The Goldbergs.”
“His enthusiasm for Kansas City as well as all he does to give back to the community truly exemplifies the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the spirit on which it was founded,” said Tracy Meyers-Keeling, senior co-chair of the parade, in a press release. She pointed to his work with the annual Big Slick Celebrity Weekend benefiting Children’s Mercy Hospital.
“They’ve asked me for the last two years and I was unavailable,” he said of the parade. “Last year, it was on a Friday, and we were in production for ‘Superior Donuts.’ This year it’s on a Saturday, so I knew I could do it.”
Koechner already has grand marshal experience. In 2008, he lead the 150th anniversary parade for his hometown of Tipton.
Koechner, who was jovial and witty on the phone despite having a terrible case of laryngitis, played along with silly questions by claiming he’d be celebrating his Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day after the parade, by eating a whole raw onion and slurping sausage gravy.
He swatted away comparisons between his own behavior and that of “The Office’s” Todd Packer, who is nothing short of vulgar during a season six episode called “St. Patrick’s Day.”
“The only comparisons that can be made between me and Packer are between height and hairline,” he said. “Packer is a disaster, and I would hope that I am not.”
Plus, he’ll have his wife, Leigh, who grew up in Overland Park, and their five children with him. He’s hoping the whole clan will be able to ride on the float with him, he said.
Koechner, who has a German surname, did an Ancestory DNA test about a year ago and learned that he’s 65 percent Irish, 13 percent British and “the rest is spread around the Western hemisphere,” he said.
Koechner follows in the grand marshal footsteps of Royals Hall of Famer and Jackson County Executive Frank White, author Gillian Flynn and civic and business leaders such as Mike Murphy, John J. Sullivan Jr. and Kyle Kelly.
The Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at 33rd Street and Broadway and head south on Broadway, ending at 43rd Street.
Here are a couple of other fun tidbits you might not know about this year’s grand marshal.
▪ Koechner has crossed paths on a couple of jobs recently with David Dastmalchian, an actor/writer/producer who is also from the Kansas City area. Koechner portrays Detective D. Fusco on “Twin Peaks: The Return,” director David Lynch’s recent reboot of the iconic television series. Dastmalchian plays Warrick, a casino pit boss, on the series. Koechner also has a small role in “All Creatures Here Below,” an upcoming film written by and starring Dastmalchian that was filmed and takes place in Kansas City.
▪ Koechner showed Conan O’Brien in 2014 how he talks to his children like a hobo when they’re mad at him. He explained how to make a pack from a stick and kerchief, stuff it with their worldly possessions and head for the railway.
▪ CBS didn’t require Koechner to audition for “Superior Donuts.” The network gave him his role as Tush, a laid-off factory worker who uses the shop as his office for odd jobs. “I had a few people who had known my work over at CBS and I was fortunate enough to be given the role, but I think it was my turn,” Koechner told Pasadena Weekly. “I’ve been doing this long enough, that it’s probably my turn to be given one.”
▪ Koechner writes, produces and acts in original videos for his YouTube channel, “Full On Koechner,” though he hasn’t uploaded new ones recently.