'Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun' Is the Side-Splitting Absurdist Comedy Gem This Hectic Year Needs

It's available on Netflix now — and you'll want to binge it all in one go.
Sarah Ward
Published on November 20, 2020

Each month, Netflix adds a whole heap of new movies, shows and specials to its lineup. It's impossible to watch all of them, and if you tend to gravitate towards its big series and films — Stranger Things and The Witcher, plus features such as Marriage Story and The Trial of the Chicago 7 , for instance — that's understandable. But don't scroll your way past the service's comedy offerings. As with everything on every streaming platform, the selection can be a bit hit and miss; however, Netflix was responsible for the best sketch comedy of 2019,I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. It has also now claimed that title again in 2020 with the just-released Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun.

If you're familiar with Australian comedy troupe Aunty Donna, then you'll know what to expect. Writers and performers Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane, director and writer Sam Lingham, filmmaker Max Miller and composer Tom Armstrong have been treating audiences to absurdist gags, satire, wordplay and songs since forming in 2011. Over that time, Aunty Donna has played gigs everywhere from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, toured the country several times, made a number of web series and released an ARIA-nominated album — but now the group has channelled all of its silliness and surreal gags, and its astute ability to make fun of daily life in a smart yet ridiculous way, into a six-part Netflix series that's the funniest thing you'll watch in 2020.

Now available to stream, Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun stars Bonanno, Kelly and Ruane as themselves — and housemates. Each episode revolves around a theme, starting with the search for a fourth member of their household when they decide to turf their annoying talking dishwasher (voiced by Flight of the Conchords' Kristen Schaal). The second episode, focused around treasure, also features an out-there recreation of Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, while other instalments serve up everything from a pitch-perfect takedown of trendy barber shops to a parody of male posturing when the guys turn their house into a bar. 'Weird Al' Yankovich also pops up, as does executive producer and The Office star Ed Helms (claiming that his name is actually Egg), and a tea party with the Queen of England features as well.

While it's showing on Netflix worldwide, there's no doubting that this is an Aussie sketch comedy. Viewers will spot the references to Crazy John's, Four'n Twenty pies, Eagle Boys Pizza, the Hoodoo Gurus and Grant Denyer — and there's an instance of name-dropping about a well-known TV and AFL figure that's brief but sublime. Skewing more broadly, the series' parody of Family Feud is both clever and bonkers, and the show manages to touch upon the 2000 Sydney Olympics, silly wi-fi names, table manners, sports injuries, pirates and today's dating scene, too.

There's nothing too over-the-top for Aunty Donna, or too trivial. The series opens with the group's existing song 'Everything a Drum' — which really is self-explanatory — after all. And, it nears its end with a tense trip to see a stylist that's a descent into chaos and madness, and yet also 100-percent relatable. Understandably, binging the 20-minute episodes in one go is very easy to do. So is starting the whole show over again once you've already watched it through.

At the beginning of 2020, no one could've picked how this year would turn out. And while longtime Aunty Donna fans already knew what the group is capable of, few folks would've tipped that Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun would be just the dose of side-splitting absurdity this hectic year needs. Or, that it'd get the most preposterous and catchy song about caffeine there is well and truly lodged in everyone's heads until 2021 hits.

Check out the trailer below:

Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun is available to stream via Netflix.

Published on November 20, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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