Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun
Hawk: Aunty Donna, a comedy troupe composed primarily of Broden Kelly, Mark Bonanno and Zach Ruane, hadn’t existed at the forefront of my internet consumption since their ridiculous Bikie Wars from a few years ago. Shame on me, because the absurdist Australian trio have been pumping out multiple themed webseries for the last decade for an embarrassment of riches on their YouTube Channel. As a reminder of their creative brilliance, the three are closing out 2020 with a bang with their net Netflix series Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun.
Aunty Donna’s Netflix series draws easy comparisons to last year’s fantastic I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson: both series are sketch comedies with a focus on absurdism and excess, with a single thread of an idea for the foundation of a sketch steadily escalating until it doesn’t break through the ceiling so much as ignore the ceiling entirely. 2020 has been a year in which escapism is essential, and the overwhelmingly silly Big Ol’ House of Fun is a different kind of insanity that feels like a break from everything else. There’s an intensity to the freewheeling creativity, “and then” mentality, and dogged enthusiasm to be as bizarre as necessary. Most importantly, the show never feels like it’s trying too hard, so whatever happens just feels like part of the chaotic logic.
The majority of the skits are terrific, and, not unlike Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the troupe’s near-perfect grasp of timing and chemistry is testament to how much content they’ve produced together. Every sketch features all three of them (sometimes more than once in different wigs as secondary characters), which supplements the show’s loose premise of these three man-children living together in a much, much more vulgar and very Australian Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Some of the sketches are recreations of the troupe’s live shows, and some are new creations, but each of them brings the same bizarre, hilarious energy that has defined the troupe’s style across their inception in 2011 and the multitude of inventive webseries on YouTube. There’s something about the sound editing, musical interludes, blatant disregard for the fourth wall and madcap thinking behind some of the bits that makes Aunty Donna a staple of absurdist comedy, and hopefully Big Ol’ House of Fun will give them even more of the recognition they deserve.