Aunty Donna

Comedy, Sketch
4 out of 5 stars
Aunty Donna
Photograph: Supplied

This high-energy hour of absurdity from the Melbourne trio is triumphant proof that silly sketch comedy is alive and well

Aunty Donna are on fire. Halfway through their new show Big Boys, the usually-silent DJ/sound engineer Tom Armstrong says a single word, and the entire audience erupts into a thunderous standing ovation. The room feels like a powder keg, where at any point the packed crowd might storm the stage.

It could be partly because the trio – Broden Kelly, Mark Samual Bonanno and Zachary Ruane – have spent years racking up over a million views on their absurdist YouTube sketch series, and the audience can’t quite believe they’re seeing the comedians live at last. But it’s mostly because the three funnymen have an incendiary presence on stage and a relentless, quick-fire approach to presenting sketch after sketch, all accompanied by a banging soundtrack from Armstrong.

They storm the stage and open with their crazy ‘Everything’s a Drum’ rap, unafraid to be self-deprecating, dirty and gloriously ridiculous. A few moments of audience interaction – designed to provoke discomfort before subverting the joke back on themselves – are less effective than when the trio fully commit to insular sketches, which have been their MO since they first formed as students at the University of Ballarat’s Arts Academy in 2011.

Audience members (including this reviewer) were doubled over with laughter in a particularly bizarre sketch about a 52-year-old mum berating her sons for failing to help her catch salmon for their large pet bear. Other gems come in the form of jokes at the expense of fragile masculinity – a welcome offering from three male comedians who could have chosen to go for more low-hanging fruit for laughs. But it’s a testament to their constantly surprising, unapologetically silly material that their fan base is clearly so wide and so dedicated.

This review ran originally in Time Out Melbourne as part of coverage of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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