They’re silly, they’re absurd, they’re lyrically talented. Now they’re on Netflix. Aunty Donna, the viral sketch comedy sensation from down under just dropped Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun. The troupe is made up of Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zach Ruane. If you’re new to their antics it may take a few minutes to get into the groove. But it’s worth it!
Hitting The Right Note
Most episodes feature a musical number. The premiere opens with Everything’s A Drum, and while it was a close call, they prove their hypothesis. Then there is a ‘word of the day’ (often a ‘phrase of the day’) which sets up a loose story arc for the rest of the show. What follows is a show that takes more turns than Hurricane Eta.
One skit is a very inappropriate version of Family Feud. Another finds them trying to replace their talking dishwasher while Zach fades in and out due to poor internet connection (he’s sitting at the table with the others). Another time they’re training for the ‘lympics with pro-wrestler Awesome Kong who is, indeed, awesome.
Doing Your Part
Like in their online vids, they boys play many different roles, and cycle through 20+ in these six episodes. The solution when they briefly need a fourth? A mannequin. Perfectly timed in the edit, it’s hilarious in its brilliance and simplicity.
Plenty of guest stars make appearances. Egg Helms (aka Ed Helms) is the show’s Executive Producer and his identity crisis is featured heavily in episode two. Weird Al pops up a couple of times, along with Paul F. Tomkins and Kristen Schaal. The season is bookended with a couple of truly hard to get appearances: Jerry Seinfeld* and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.**
There’s just something refreshing about a show that gives itself so much freedom to go in any direction on a moment’s notice. The on-screen versions of Zach, Mark, and Broden have no real background or backstories limiting their character so no matter what they do, it’s never out of character. For this show, it’s the house of Aunty Donna’s house that acts like a center of gravity. They can always come back to it but it’s a very versatile character in and of itself. It’s a home. It’s a rehearsal space. It’s a bar now! (Pro tip: Pay attention to the trash bins)
The show reminds me a lot of The Kids In The Hall, the Canadian comedy troupe from the late 80s/early 90s who often played iconic characters or exaggerated versions of themselves with just enough irreverent silliness to keep unfamiliar American audience slightly uneasy.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
I recommend taking a trip down to your local dispensary and picking up something to put in your vape. This show was made to be watched in a slightly altered state of mind. But if you’re sticking to cocktails, mix up a Liquid Marijuana.
*not actually Jerry Seinfeld
**Not Actually Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England