Aunty Donna

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 12 Aug 2015

Sketch comedians as a collective body have survived decades of being labelled "hit and miss" by critics, and they'll surivive many more. Embracing the inherent inconsistency of the medium, and a degree of self-awareness regarding filler sketches, is what keeps comedy troupe Aunty Donna relatively fresh.

The skits rely mostly on surrealist humour, with expectations subverted so often that there's little point in trying to predict where a scene will go. A common flaw with shows like these can be clunky transitions between sketches, given that the absurdist style offers no logical narrative conclusion to a segment, but the Australian trio are inventive with this, using dizzying lighting cues and dubstep to shift between routines.

Often the eccentricity feels contrived, as though they're determined not to be pinned down as any sort of conventional comedians. This backfires when they attempt to interweave callback jokes and recurring punchlines, tripping over themeslves stylistically for the sake of saying "Look! We reused that character from the sketch earlier on! Hooray for contextualisation!" to no real avail. All three performers are energetic and physically committed to their craft, though, and they're not afraid to sacrifice their dignity in service of a laugh.

There's some imaginative parody of voice-over and backing tracks, demonstrating technical skills that bely the simplicity of the medium. The verve wears off towards the end, however, and it concludes more with a protracted whimper than the fiery vigour with which they imbued the rest of the show.