Riding the Storm Out... With Todd Packer
Comedian David Koechner embraces his fame from "The Office" in Colorado's high-country.
Northern Colorado got its first real snowfall of the season last Saturday, and by sunset in the mountain-town of Estes Park, where my wife and I were staying that evening, it was coming down pretty hard.
We were up at the historical (and pop-culturally significant) Stanley Hotel for a stand-up comedy show, the latest of several we’ve seen there in recent years featuring notable comedians from television and film. We ate dinner on the property beforehand, and as we trekked up a hill through the falling snow, along a couple of drives and parking-lots to the main hotel, we were already fretting some about the drive afterwards.
The good news was that the hotel we were staying at was barely over a mile away (we’ve never stayed at the Stanley because it’s pretty pricey). But between the steep, windy, slippery roads and poor nighttime visibility, things were shaping up a bit rough. In fact, the opening comedian that night kept joking with the audience that we were all snowed-in together in a haunted hotel — a play off on the fact that the Stanley Hotel inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining” (a theme the famous inn has fully embraced).
So… there was some potential truth to the comic’s words. But my wife and I pushed those thoughts to the back of our minds, and enjoyed some big laughs from feature comedian David Koechner, best known for his television role as Todd Packer on NBC’s The Office.
He did not disappoint, my nerds!
There’s a lot of Todd Packer in Koechner’s stand-up routine, and I suspect there’s a good amount of the character in Koechner himself. But unlike some Hollywood types who grow resentful of being forever identified with a single, popular role they undertook, Koechner embraces his multi-generational, pop-culture legacy as Dunder Mifflin’s raunchy, womanizing traveling-salesman.
A great comedy set was only half of the Koechner experience that evening. The comedian offered a separate ticked event we went to, later that night, that featured Koechner actually reprising the Todd Packer character, as well as partaking in a Q&A and meet-and-greet. It also saw him co-hosting an Office costume contest and phone-app trivia-game, for which the winners of the latter found themselves reenacting a couple of memorable scenes from the show on stage with Koechner.
It was good, silly fun. Being seated in the front row even earned me the first stop on Koechner’s “bald guys with gorgeous wives” joke-tour of the audience.
Koechner told us he’s been doing these interactive shows for a while now, and if Saturday night was any indication of how they typically flow, they’ve assuredly required a lot of patience. While Koechner seems to have fun entertaining die-hard fans and giving them a lot of bang for their buck, dealing with Office enthusiasts — especially drunk Office enthusiasts — has to try the nerves.
That night for example, there was a very loud attendee who wouldn’t drop her insistence that her clearly wrong trivia answer was correct. There were also multiple fans who carelessly blurted out the correct trivia answers in a very competitive round, and others who kept interrupting Koechner’s story-telling with dumb jokes and other comments. Then there was the guy who walked up to the microphone during the Q&A session (inexplicably dressed like Wolverine), and instead of asking a question, loudly recited Dwight Schrute’s autocratic “Salesman of the Year” acceptance speech (that he read off his phone), complete with slamming his hand/claws down across the microphone (much to Koechner’s and many others’ annoyance).
But such events must be worth it to Koechner, otherwise he wouldn’t do them. And for fans like my wife and me, the comedian’s extra efforts were appreciated and well worth the price of admission… despite the dopey hecklers and self-amused disruptors. We were there past 11pm, and after a good three hours of Koechner entertainment, we left very satisfied.
Thanks for coming to the Colorado high-country, Pac-Man.
The drive back to our hotel was, as feared, pretty scary… even for a lifelong Coloradan like me (whose been known to incorporate such scenes in his books). I’m guessing anyone who went to the show planning on leaving Estes that night probably reconsidered, and called around looking for local lodging for the night, because driving down highways 34 or 36 would have been insanity.
But we made it to our inn in one piece, and were fortunate to have a fireplace in our room that kept things cozy and comfortable for the rest of the night while the temperature outside dropped into single digits. Sometime the next morning, while we were still fast asleep, the snow stopped… and so did the electricity throughout the entire town of Estes. It was still out when we left our hotel for the slow, cautious trip back down the then-partially plowed highway and beautiful white landscape.
All in all, it was a great little overnight trip, and a great first snow of the season.
Are you ready for winter? Let me know in an email or in the comment section below.
In Case You Missed It
Bernie Goldberg and I had a good discussion last week on free speech in America. We covered speech on college campuses, in the work place, and on the Internet. The episode is for paying subscribers to Bernie’s site, but there is an extended preview that anyone can watch for free:
Odds & Ends
If you would have told me that one of my favorite rock bands, the Toadies, was going to release a Kelly Clarkson cover, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But they just did… and it’s freakin’ awesome.
I must have made fun of bucket-hats in one of my columns.
Obligatory Dog Shot (a Video this Week!)
Stella played dead for a few seconds and it really messed with the others' minds.
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
Back before “John Mellencamp” and “John Cougar Mellencamp” there was “John Cougar.” And when I saw this cigarette-smoking youngster staring back at me from an Arizona record-store bin a few weeks ago, I felt compelled to take him over to the cash register.
This 1979 self-titled record was actually Mellencamp’s third studio album, but his first one as “John Cougar” because before that… he went by yet another stage name: “Johnny Cougar.”
This one includes his first Top 40 hit, “I Need a Lover,” which has a crazy-long intro that I never knew about from listening the radio version for so many years. It’s a fun album.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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