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Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café review: locally sourced sketches with robust comical flavour

Aunty Donna's Coffee Cafe is their first ABC-commissioned narrative comedy series, and as our local answer to Monty Python it doesn't disappoint.

After a brief stint as the hottest Aussie exports in the US (see: Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun on Netflix), Aunty Donna are back in our hemisphere, bringing with them a duty-free bag of hilarious goodies.

Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café follows the adventures of three friends – Mark Bonnano, Zach Ruane and Broden Kelly – who run a ‘trendy’ Melbourne café. Together they’re working to create the best joint in the neighbourhood … despite not having any of the necessary skills. The weekly adventures of the trio range from dealing with heritage listed wasps, to placating evil witches who are really into Costa from Gardening Australia.

Read our interview with Aunty Donna here: ‘Improv is a bit like tomato sorbet and anchovy toast’

If you’re not familiar with Aunty Donna’s shtick, they’re basically Australia’s answer to BBC’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus and HBO’s Mr. Show. Having performed as a comedy trio for more than a decade, Broden, Mark and Zach are seasoned silly mongers with a penchant for theatrical buffoonery, extremely specific references (Car City Ringwood, anyone?), and biting satire of the upper-class.

And they love a bit of a sing-song too. The songs in Coffee Café are as catchy and as wildly inappropriate for broadcast TV as ever. See ‘The Vibrator Song’ below:

Narrowing in on the zeitgeist

Being their first ABC-commissioned narrative series, Aunty Donna bring the laughs out at a rapid pace, many of which come at the expense of ABC properties like the aforementioned Gardening Australia, as well as Rake and 4 Corners – and even the ABC iView app itself (which ‘definitely works!’). I bust a gut many, many times during my binge watch of the (criminally short) six episodes.

Read: What to watch in April: new to streaming, cinemas and film festivals near you

When they’re not singing and slinging insults, their finger-on-the-pulse style gags cover everything from ‘rude’ restaurants (a la Karen’s Diner) to TikTok thirst traps:

The many varied film references – The Matrix, A Clockwork Orange, Peter Pan, Crocodile Dundee, 12 Angry Men – were equally delightful to spot.

I am Rake

And then there’s the cameos. I won’t spoil all of them, but Richard Roxburgh’s complete commitment to the bit of showing up as ‘Rake’ (not to be confused with Cleaver Greene, the lawyer from the TV show Rake … actually no, the confusion is intentional), delivering absurdly silly lines with the gravitas of King Lear, is by far the biggest highlight.

‘I am Rake’. L-R: Michelle Brasier, Matt Doran, Durnan Silva, Richard Roxburgh, Zachary Ruane and Broden Kelly. Image: ABC

It’s a great show, better than a dinner for two at Smorgy’s Bundoora*, and I’m giving it the five stars it deserves. However, I strongly feel that nothing Aunty Donna produce will ever top their YouTube short Don’t Get In The Kiln.

Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café is airing episodes weekly on ABC – or you can stream the entire show now on ABC iView.

Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café

Director: Max Miller

Date Created: 2024-02-24 19:34

Editor's Rating:
5

*tragically destroyed in a fire in 2013

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports