Aunty Donna gets that you don’t need much to be entertaining. Aunty Donna is very entertaining.
This is a lean, talented show. The characters in sketches are always Zach, Mark and Broden (except when it’s crucial that they aren’t), and why wouldn’t they be? Their strengths are complementary and as a trio they are brilliant. Each of them occupies a different corner of the triangle of combat. Broden is a honey-voiced warrior, Zach is a terrified mage, and Mark is an old Italian man.
Their resourcefulness is never at the expense of good writing or characterization. The jokes come thick and fast and funny, and the conviction that every performer brings to every scene is beautiful – no matter how unlikely the universe (rival sketch troupe the Bubble Bath Boys / sinking sexy party boat / stray humans and so on). It’s refreshing and great.
Obviously not every sketch can be as good as the man who shit in his pants but is still doing pretty well. In a show that’s very sleek and shiny, some of the auxiliary gags are dull, and jokes about glasses full of cum and giant dicks are a bit dumb. Aunty Donna is usually too absurd to be problematic, but there are some shock lines that the show would do better without. But any miss is couched in plenty of hits, and everything moves quickly.
They’re just as easy with the audience as they are on stage. Lively meta scenes, like the interval sketch and the opening and closing numbers, take the ensemble wrist deep into the fanbase and they are so comfortable there. They appreciate there is an intimate and important difference between individual funnies uploaded to YouTube, and an hour-long live performance, something missed by lazier comics who have risen to fame online. But Donna shows you can be good at both.
Partly thanks to this awareness, and partly because of the show’s clear aesthetic, the flow and energy is just incredible. Sketches do not have endings—and they don’t need them. They barrel straight into the scenes that follow with elegant conceits that imply change, ensuring the stage never stagnates, empty or under blackout. Dance numbers move into the narrative, which moves into sketches, which end with dance numbers, so you don’t have a chance to be bored. Anyone who says they are bored by an Aunty Donna live show is a liar.
It’s all well thought-out and it pays off. The show is all at once a celebration and parody and brilliant example of sketch comedy.
Aunty Donna has returned to Australia from a stint under Hollywood’s big lights, and for three beautiful nights only our dumb city has a chance to enjoy some of the best live entertainment that is being made anywhere.