Netflix seem to be the only American network that’s interested in making sketch shows right now, which is quite odd because they used to be popular and the ones they have created have been largely superb and deserving of a huge amount of praise. You can add this latest effort from the Australian sketch group Aunty Donna to that growing list as well, indeed this new series produced by Comedy Bang Bang’s Scott Aukerman is their best creation yet.
Aunty Donna are three Australian men, Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane, who have spent the last few years producing work online to an ever increasing fanbase. They seem to delight in the absurd and the unpredictable and that has made for a sketch show brimming with energy where it’s rare for ten seconds pass without a big laugh, which is impressive indeed. This first episode has a linking theme too in that after angrily kicking out their singing dishwasher (superbly voiced by Kristin Schaal) when she suggests she shouldn’t have to pay equal rent, they start looking for a new housemate.
Said theme is only a very loose one however, though it involves one superb sketch where they’re interviewing potential new housemates who include “Stinky Jim”, “Dusty Bob”, “Wartime British Civilian”, “Dad at BBQ Trying to Learn The New Cool Dance Moves”, “Cowboy”, “Cowsoy”, “Cowdoy” and “Sir Alfred Hitchcock”, but most of the time we just follow these characters around in their day to day lives doing daft and idiotic things.
They’re experts at changing the tone or the feel of a sketch from one second to the next, best exemplified in the opening skit which involves a song about drumming but which suddenly becomes disturbing when Zachary is unable to use a pot as a drum, and is soon screaming “When you came to me 15 years ago you told me that everything was a drum?” while Mark distraughtly mutters “I left my wife, I let you drum on my penis”, but it’s not long before everything’s extremely bright and happy again, and strangely joyous too.
It’s an almost endlessly inventive work as well, one sketch is suddenly interrupted when Zachary “goes low-res” due to a poor internet signal, Jerry Seinfeld (Miracle Workers star Karan Soni) supposedly turns up to declare that their wi-fi name “Poo Poo” is the funniest ever, Mark insulting the other two leads to the revelation that all three have posters of him on their bedroom walls, and when a thought bubble suddenly emerges from Zachary’s head the other two men are absolutely horrified, and when they cut it loose blood spurts everywhere.
The above is pretty much the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the craziness on display here, but it never feels forced or inorganic, the insanity just leaps out of the blue on each occasion and will have you laughing hard for a good old while. They’re charismatic and engaging performers with a fantastic line in word play, and this is the best sketch show I’ve seen not only on Netflix but on any other channel in years.