A funny thing happened on the way to David Scheel becoming a zoologist - he became a comedian instead.
‘I wanted to be a zoologist but I would have had to go to Sydney to study it and I thought if I'm going to be apart from my parents, I might as well go overseas, so I went to England. I drifted into the theatre in the West End and I thought, “Damn it, people think I'm good at this”,’ David says.
The son of a renowned conductor and musical director, David learned the piano from childhood and his talent for acting was recognised by a ‘spotter’ early, when he was offered a contract to act professionally when still in high school in Adelaide.
His biggest break came when he wrote a show combining his strengths of music, acting and comedy, called Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player and performed it at the
Edinburgh Comedy Festival. It was a hit, leading to more shows, radio and television performances.
‘There's nothing like getting the bounce of an audience laughing at something that you've said, and I just love introducing a new character with a new voice or a new accent. Just recently I invented everyone's archetypical orchestral conductor — they're all the same because they all talk with this mid European accent, which could be anything but sounds somewhat Hungarian,’ David laughs.
Whilst humour is key, David has a great respect for classical music and a secret agenda to popularise it: ‘I do like introducing people to classical music so they realise it is much more accessible than they previously thought. I have made quite a few converts.’
David toured Don’t shoot me internationally for 15 years, including in South Africa, finally seeing in the wild the animals he has continued to be fascinated by all this time.