David Koechner is one of those actors whose face is famous but whose name you probably don’t know. A comedian by trade, he’s probably best known for portraying the characters Champ Kind in the Anchorman movies with Will Farrell, and as Todd Packer on NBC’s long running sitcom The Office.
On The Office, he re-joined Steve Carell, another, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy alum, and Farrell himself would make an appearance later in the show’s run. It turns out that America’s comedy scene is pretty tight-knit, and it’s likely come as an unpleasant surprise in that community that David and his wife and fellow comic and podcaster Leigh Koechner are calling it quits after 22 years.
David and Leigh met at the Kansas City airport in mid-1990s. She was approaching 30 and had decided that the wild life she’d been living in Los Angeles wasn’t conducive to her dreams of getting married to someone amazing and having a bunch of kids with him.
She and her brother flew home to Kansas City for the holidays, and as they sat in the airport terminal waiting for their flight back to California, she noticed a man she found very attractive standing nearby. It was her brother, Patrick, who recognized him.
David had been appearing on Saturday Night Live that season, and Patrick immediately called out to him. David ended up sitting with the siblings, and Patrick insisted he sit with them on the flight they were waiting for.
Leigh has described this encounter in story form for the stage. She recounts how, with Patrick sitting between them, she and David started chatting on the flight.
At some point, she says, she looked into his eyes and suddenly just knew with her whole being that she was talking to the man who would be her husband. Patrick interrupted them at one point to ask David, “Are you attracted to my sister? Because I’ve never seen her act this way.” When the flight landed, she volunteered to drive David home. A few days later, he came to her New Year’s Eve party, and the rest is history.
They married in 1998, and Leigh gave birth to their son Charles not long after. The delivery didn’t go according to plan, and she nearly bled to death. Doctors had to perform emergency surgery to remove her uterus, but she and David both still planned for a big family. Through the miracle of surrogacy, the family now includes five children.
David’s career had gotten started in Chicago’s improv scene, home of Second City. His experience there led to roles doing sketch comedy in New York in the 1990s.
Aside from his year on Saturday Night Live, he also put a year in with Conan O’Brien when Conan hosted Late Night. He had some bit parts and a sketch show on Comedy Central for one season, but his big break came when his old SNL friend Will Ferrell reached out to offer him the Anchorman role.
The next year, his The Office character Todd Packer was introduced in the show’s pilot episode, although David hadn’t been cast yet. The role at that time was only as a voice on the phone, and the voice was not David’s.
Later, he’d appear in films like Talladega Nights and Thank You for Smoking, as well as a huge number of television shows. In 2016, he took a dramatic role in the film Priceless, about human trafficking. Of his departure from comedy, he said, “My wife and I have five kids — three of them are daughters.
So, just to imagine the horror of any young lady having to go through this. This film is based on true events. It’s happening right now. It’s happening in Chicago. It’s happening here in Los Angeles. It’s happening globally. So, to be a participant in a film like this — to bring awareness to such a horror — makes me happy.”
Through it all, David and Leigh have both been regulars at Los Angeles comedy clubs like Flappers, Improv Olympic, and Largo. Leigh, who has a masters degree in Spiritual Psychology, also does life coaching and spiritual teaching, along with a series of 33-day online programs about mindfulness and similar topics that are designed to help people build new, and hopefully happier, habits.
In 2019, she launched a podcast called Messy Imperfect Life with Leigh Koechner. The format is typically an interview with someone, sometimes famous, sometimes not. The idea was originally that she and David would make a podcast together, but scheduling got in the way and she launched her solo idea.
It was quite a surprise when Page Six revealed that David had filed a petition for dissolution of marriage with minor children in California on January 14. Just a few weeks ago, Leigh’s Instagram page included photos of the family, apparently happy, celebrating Christmas together.
And of course, it’s entirely possible that the messy imperfect life guru and her husband of 22 years, in the midst of separation and divorce, are still relatively happy as a family. It’s also worth noting that Leigh seems to be taking events in stride. Along with her ongoing 33-day programs, she’s now offering a six week online course called For The Love of Divorce: From Pain to Power. She’s marketing the program with a simple message: Divorce sucks, but we don’t have to suffer.
Many of the ex-couples we’ve written about on this page might differ, but the truth is that she’s right. It’s not known whether the Koechners have a prenuptial agreement, but the tabloids seem to think that this divorce won’t be particularly messy.
If your marriage in Queens is ending, the team at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino can help you keep your perspective. Call us today at 718-523-1111 for a free consultation with an experienced Queens divorce and child custody attorney.