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Comedy Fest hot pick: Aunty Donna

Apr 13, 2016 Theatre

Aunty Donna is a high-energy, filthy and absurd sketch comedy troupe from Melbourne. Their stage show has won four- and five-star reviews in every city in Australia, their YouTube channel has millions of views, and they’ve recorded TV pilots for the ABC and Comedy Central in Australia.

I called one of the troupe’s three main performers, Zachary Ruane, to ask about Aunty Donna’s live sketch comedy and YouTube success.

Watch: Aunty Donna’s series of “Haven’t You Done Well” sketches are among their most popular YouTube videos.

“I’m in the car, eating sandwiches,” he says. “I’ve got the boys here. Want to talk to all the boys?” He says, putting me on speakerphone. “Sam made sandwiches because we’re going to have lunch on the run today.”

“Hopefully lunch doesn’t give us the runs,” says another member. Due to their exaggerated character accents and poor speakerphone sound quality, the voices are indistinguishable.

“Oh, get out of it. I wanted to do one serious interview. I wanted Auckland to know how excited we are to go!”

For the next 15 minutes, the trio take every question as an opportunity to launch into a sketch-like riff about any tangential topic, in the voices of their many characters. It’s as if I’m interviewing their YouTube videos.

On coming to New Zealand
“Can I say, for the record, that I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I thought, after The Hobbit, that the tourism industry was going to go off. And everyone’s going to want to see all the green screens around the country.”

On the difference between their live show and their YouTube videos
“We did at one point just get all our YouTube clips and screen them in a dark room and that worked okay. What really didn’t succeed was when we tried to do the live show on the internet. We all tried to sit inside Sam’s MacBook Air. And we ended up killing ourselves.”

“Oh, boys, boys, boys. Can’t we just have a serious interview? Can’t we answer just one of this man’s questions?”

On their name
“I have an aunty named Betty and we were going to call the group Aunty Betty, after Aunty Betty. She was in sketch comedy on the ABC but then she died in a car accident quite suddenly and that would be a little bit too confronting for me, so we picked the Donna because it provoked a similar vibe.”
“Once we started it, we met a lady called Donna and she was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m an aunty of my nephews and nieces. My name’s Aunty Donna.’ And we said, ‘That’s incredible, that’s what we just named our group.’ And she said, ‘See ya!’ and she got into her car and she died in a big car accident.”
“Oh, boys, boys, boys. What did I say? Can’t we just have a serious interview? Can’t we answer just one of this man’s questions?”
Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Aunty Donna, May 3-7, Loft at Q Theatre. Book tickets.



Read more: Cori Gonzales-Macuer interviews Natasha Hoyland


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