Aunty Donna – Big Boys

By Elyce Phillips
Aunty Donna

The first time I reviewed Aunty Donna (Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane) they were yelling about fax machines in a tiny room at the Lithuanian Club. It’s surreal to see them where they are now – playing to a packed audience of fervent fans at Max Watts with lights flashing, smoke machine whirring and music pumping. Big Boys is a slick production that’s equal parts sketch show and a night out clubbing.

There’s a thin thread of narrative running through Big Boys – Ruane hasn’t been putting in enough effort and Bonanno wants him to step up. In between the continuing argument, we see brief sketches about things that are happening right now, rap battles and a car race. At the back of the stage, Tom Armstrong pulls it all together, DJing and providing sound effects throughout.

Beneath the flashy set-up and showmanship is a strong base of fantastic sketches. Aunty Donna are at their best when they venture into absurd territory, peppering in beautifully bizarre details at the back-end of broader bits about drums or getting money to go see a movie. The writing is strong and the performances are well-rehearsed. Everything in this show works beautifully, even when things look like they’re not going to plan.

The audience adds a whole other dimension to an Aunty Donna show. The energy in the room is at a steady high and the boys clearly feed off of it. One of the best moments of the night was audience generated, when they spontaneously erupted into a standing ovation after Armstrong delivered his one line in the show.

No-one else does sketch comedy quite the way Aunty Donna do, and their originality is paying off. Big Boys is a joyously silly experience and a fine example of a new generation of live comedy. If you like your comedy loud and high-energy, Big Boys is the show for you.

Big Boys is on at Max Watts until April 23

Aunty Donna – New Show

By Pheobe O’Brien
Aunty Donna New Show

Aunty Donna are terrifyingly glorious in their ‘New Show’. It’s a sweaty spectacular, dripping with success.

What do Jesus, Pitch Perfect and an Australian promotional campaign have in common? These are just a few of the little tasty sketch creations in Aunty Donna’s New Show. Firstly, these boys are brilliant. They’ve risen through the ranks, with success on YouTube, their web series ‘1999’ and with their ABC iView’s ‘Fresh Blood’ pilot. Although, these videos are entertaining and so quotable, nothing beats seeing them live.

Be ready to be brought in to Aunty Donna’s world. It’s fast, magical, and God damn hilarious. It feels like they’ve invited you into their imagination. There’s a childlike wonder throughout, met with strong technical and performance ability to back it up. It will feel like a dream, but the best dream you’ve ever had.

Aunty Donna are the kings of audience participation. They create a nervous, excited energy amongst the crowd whether they are picking people to go up on stage or climbing over chairs to give a few audience members a close up they never knew they needed.

In terms of space and props, it’s minimalistic, evidently showcasing how much these boys can do with very little. This trio are incredible performers, with an enthralling stage presence and confident acting ability. They have definitely hit the mark with this one.

Understandably, Aunty Donna have an ever-expanding fan base. They stick around to meet fans after their show, proving not only are they genuinely great at their craft, but they are genuinely great humans.

There’s never been a better time to jump on the Aunty Donna bandwagon.‘So where the bloody hell are you?’ It better be on your way to Roxanne or to to get yourself a ticket to Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival’s golden ticket.

Aunty Donna’s New Show is on at Roxanne until April 16.

Aunty Donna

By Elyce Phillips Aunty Donna boat

Aunty Donna (Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane) do sketch comedy, but not as you’ve seen it before. It’s slick, flashy and has a pumping soundtrack that is more ‘dudes doing doughies in the Macca’s carpark’ than ‘a night out at the theatre’. In this self-titled show, the boys find themselves at war with a rival comedy group. It’s a bitter battle, and along the way a whole heap of totally irrelevant, utterly hilarious sketches happen.

There’s a fair amount of filth in Aunty Donna’s work, all of which got some easy laughs from the teenage boys in the crowd. It’s a well-established theme in their comedy, and I guess it just wouldn’t be an Aunty Donna show without the holy trinity of balls, semen and c-bombs – though they bleep the latter these days. But what lifts this up from being simple gross-out humour are some very clever sketches filled with absurdity and sudden dark turns. The ‘Stray Man’ sketch was a highlight for me. Kelly has naïve dead-pan down to a fine art. A series of simple, silly vignettes were also used to great effect, such as ‘The man who didn’t realise there was a queue’.

Tom Armstrong’s music and sound design adds so much to this show, setting the tone from the moment you enter the venue. The songs have all the production value of a music video. Inner monologues become catchy little jingles. Days later, I still find myself singing a few of the songs. It’s that extra element that makes them stand out from other sketch comedy groups in this festival.

It’s great to see that these guys are drawing in a lot of new, young comedy-goers – presumably fans of their very popular YouTube videos. The audience is energetic and there’s a whole lot of love in the room when Aunty Donna perform. These guys have come a long way in a short time, and I can’t wait to see what Aunty Donna do next.

Aunty Donna is playing at ACMI Cube until April 19

5 Good Reasons To See Aunty Donna

Step 1
Gather your Ingredients
4 1/2 cups cornflakes
120g butter, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup caster sugar

Step 2
Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced. Line 12 hole, 1/3 cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases.

Step 3
Place cornflakes in a large heatproof bowl.

Step 4
Place butter, honey and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Add to cornflakes. Mix well to combine. Spoon mixture evenly between paper cases.

Step 5
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Stand for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Enjoy your Honey Joys!

Aunty Donna is on at ACMI – Cube. For more information and bookings visit the website:

Comedy Xmas Shows Are Coming to Town

By Lisa Clark

All around Melbourne the comedy venues are putting together Christmas shows with more laughs than you’ll find in any Christmas Cracker. We put together a list and you can check it twice. These are all the Christmas shows we know about, coming to Melbourne this December, including some exciting live podcast recordings.


The Bella Union Bar is in a Seriously Festive mood and has a lot of Christmas cheer to offer. Comedy wise there are three main offerings.

Sweetest Plum – How the Plum Stole Christmas 
Podcasters Nick Maxwell and Declan Fay will present their usual razor sharp banter**, with a star-studded line-up of celebrity guests***

**   Razor sharp banter is not guaranteed.
*** Star-studded line-up may just be Gatesy, on a stool, with a guitar
Date: 14th December, 2014
Time: 5:00pm
Price: $20/15


After Dinner Mint Christmas Spectacular By The Lords Of Luxury 
The final After Dinner Mint of the year features:
– Master of the dark arts, David Quirk
– Masters of mayhem, Aunty Donna
– Master of sideburns, Hairy Soul Man aka Kai Smythe
Plus many special guests AND a visit from the one and only Santa Claus!

Hosted by The Lords of Luxury with music from Gillian Cosgriff.

Date: Tuesday December 9
Time: 8:30pm.
Price: Presale $12/9  or $15/10 at the door


A Swinging Bella Christmas 

This will be a musical comedy show with MC Casey Bennetto and his co-host being comedy chanteuse Geraldine Quinn with their band the Bella All Stars. On Thursday 18th the special guests will be Alan Brough and Mike McLeish and on Friday the special guests will be Tripod so you can no doubt go to both and are pretty much guaranteed a sensational time.

Thur 18 Dec 2014
Fri 19 Dec 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Price: $35 Full $30 Group $25 Conc



What The Dickens!

Travel back in time to 1851, to Victorian England and the great age of discovery and storytelling. Created from your suggestions, tales of sweet-hearted heroes, sickly orphans, bumbling constables and winsome ladies are woven into a new, unique Dickensian tale every night.

Play parlour games like Poor Pussy, the Laughing Game and join Melbourne’s finest improvisors for mince pies and some Christmas cheer in the wonderful ‘curiosity shoppe’ that is The Butterfly Club.

Wednesday 17 December 2014    6:00pm
Thursday 18 December 2014     7:00pm
Friday 19 December 2014  7:00pm
Saturday 20 December 2014     7:00pm
Sunday 21 December 2014       6:00pm

Price $28/23


The Comedy Gallery @ Jacksons Christmas 
Jacksons – 8 Jackson Street Toorak

With Marty Fields, Nelson Twins, Andrew Brown, Dale Craig and Mayumi Nobetsu

Date: Tue  16 Dec
Price: $25 SHOW ONLY  $50 MEAL & SHOW – contact details for dinner and show bookings – 9827 8244
Time: 8.30


THE GH HOTEL (formally Greyhound Hotel) St Kilda

Joel Creasey’s Office Christmas Party 

Joel Creasey and special guests share their Christmas tales, disasters and songs. Join Australia’s finest comedians and celebrities at Joel’s office Christmas party!

Seating is unallocated- come down early for some pre-show Christmas cheer!

This is an ALL AGES event however anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Date: Sat 6th December, 2014
Time: 7:00pm (Doors open at 6pm for 7 – 8:30pm show.)
Price: $30 or $33.80 with Booking fee

Bookings through Moshtix


LOCAL LAUGHS presented by Janet A Mcleod 

At The Local Taphouse – 184 Carlisle St StKilda

With Janet’s famous Christmas style, decorations, the inimitable Andrew McClelland as MC and guests who so far include: Matt Elsbury, Rusty Berther, Dilruk Jayasinha and Cal Wilson, it’s sure to be a jolly good wiz bang night.

Date: Mon 22nd Dec
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $15/12



238 Victoria St Melbourne (opposite Queen Vic Market)

The Public Bar Xmas Show

With Steele Saunders, who will be cooking up an all-star mystery line up.

Date: Wed 17 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $5



At The Toff in Town, 252 Level 2 Curtain House Swanston St Melbourne.

Have a Christmas celebration with The Shelf. For three Mondays in December, The Shelf team will be rocking the night away with their final show being Dec 15 (So it must be a Christmas Show)

Hosted by Justin Hamilton and Adam Richard, regulars include Cal Wilson, sketch troupe Aunty Donna and Claire Hooper and there  is always a huge line up of very special guests

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 7.30pm
Price – $25/$30



Spleen Bar, 41 Bourke St Melbourne

Spleen Xmas  Show is having a huge three bracket show that closes with the naming of the 2014 Spleen Comic of the year.


Harley Breen, Oliver Clark, Tommy Little, Greg Larsen, Gary Chook, Xavier Michelides, Nick Cody, Anne Edmonds, Dilruk Jayasinha, Karl Chandler , Steele Saunders and surprise guests!

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: Gold Coin Donation



The Yarraville Club 135 Stephen St, Yarraville.

Yarraville Laughs has two sparkly fabulous Christmas Shows this year.

The 2014 Christmas Cracker 

Sat 13 Dec

Featuring Denise Scott & Fiona O’Loughlin
Plus Special MC Jeff Green (UK)

A top comedy line-up that will sell out fast.


Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

Dinner & Show $100 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $55 (Doors open at 7:30pm)
General Admission $45 (Doors open at 7:30pm)

EFFIE in A Date With Effie – ‘Kiss Me Under The Camel-Toe… Sorry, Mistletoe’ 

Sat December 20

Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

Ticket Options

Dinner & Show $90 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $45 (Doors open at 8pm)
General Admission $35 (Doors open at 8pm)
On the Door $40 (if available)


Also Other Pre Christmas Live Podcast Recordings:

I Love Green Guide Letters 15th Episode Live Spectacular 
At the Last Laugh Comedy Club at the Athenaeum Theatre 188 Collins St Melbourne

With a cast of 1,00s including adorable Channel 9 Newsreader Peter Hitchener

Date: Saturday Dec 6
Time: 3.30pm
Price: $20


Little Dum Dum Club 4th Birthday Show Live 

At Five Boroughs Comedy, 68 Hardware Lane (upstairs), Melbourne.

Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler present the usual dickheadery, tips about fast food outlets and some super special guests. Includes an extra post show by Nick Cody

Date: Sunday, December 7,
Time: 4pm.
Price: $21

Class Clowns 2014

By Noel Kelso

Everybody remembers the class clown in their year at school. The one person who was always messing about and making people laugh.

Now in its 19th year, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s own Class Clowns education programme takes those kids from the back of the class, gives them some workshops with professional comedians such as Kate McLennan, Danny McGinley (himself a former winner) and Aunty Donna, and places them front and centre on stage before a packed audience at the Capitol theatre in Melbourne.

The afternoon commences with our hosts Ronny Cheung and Luke McGregor – the unlikeliest double-act in comedy – arriving on stage and warming-up the audience with their very different performance styles. This got the audience laughing and opened them up for the young acts to follow.

Thirteen acts from all across Australia stepped on stage to entertain and delight those in the room. The audience laughed along to gags about school trips, teacher’s foibles, solutions to Melboune’s traffic problems and teenage surliness. It was two hours of joy from start to finish.

As the judges deliberated their decision the room was kept laughing by special guests Demi Lardner, RAW comedy winner 2013, and British sketch duo Max and Ivan. Their bizarre take on a botched bank robbery was effortlessly funny and their air guitar contest, which recruited an audience member to help out, was inspired lunacy which had the room roaring with laughter.

It was then time for the big moment and McGregor and Cheung led all of the young performers back onto the stage as they announced the winner and three runners-up as decided by the judging panel which included comedians Sara Pascoe, Dave Callan, Sammy J and Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director, Susan Provan.

The three runners-up were Mabita Makwaza from Sacred Heart College in South Australia whose material was both funny and socially aware; Jack Keenan from St Leonards College in Victoria whose routine was energetic and surprisingly mature for someone of fourteen, and Grace Bruxner from Darwin High School in Northern Territory, whose lampooning of the stereotypical surly Goth teen was sharply observed and laugh-out-loud funny.

The winner of the competition was 14 year old Gregor Tarrant from Wodonga Middle Years’ College in Victoria, whose elastic-limbed routine combined physical comedy and great gags to fine effect and had the audience rolling about with laughter.

Hopefully we will see more of these young comics in the future and they will continue their comedic endeavours further.

Heats will begin for 2015 later in the year.