Memes and Drugs: An Interview with Aunty Donna
Words by Tom Haskell
Don Bradman, Showbags, and The Original Pancake Kitchen. These are the three most iconic emblems of South Australia according to Aunty Donna’s Broden Kelly. Since gaining notoriety online and overseas for their fast-paced and alternative brand of sketch comedy, the Melbourne boys have still found a way to keep things real, especially when they’re visiting little old Adelaide.
“Every time we go to Adelaide we make a point of going to the Adelaide showgrounds. We’re each only allowed three showbags. I usually get a few Bertie Beatle bags, Zach [Ruane] likes to get the fake army showbag and maybe even a coke bag.”
The Adelaide Fringe has a soft spot in Broden’s heart as well. Having grown up in Adelaide, he was able to see lineups which included Lano & Woodley, Ross Noble, Adam Hills, and many other huge comedians at the time.
“The Fringe is good. The weather is good. The Garden [of unearthly delights] is cool. It’s a good place to start your show because the people are nice. If you get bored you can watch a car race which bleeds sound into the other live acts, or you can go to The Original Pancake Kitchen and get yourself a pancake which has meat on it. We usually do our first show at the Pancake Kitchen.”
Aunty Donna are well known for their video sketches where they often break the fourth wall, expose each other to uncomfortable amounts of liquids or sunscreen, and deliver absurd humor reminiscent of Monty Python. While their videos are the reason for their notoriety, explaining their craft is a lot closer to the live setting of the Adelaide Fringe.
“We started out on stage; YouTube came second. YouTube has been good in that we could see if audiences liked certain material, but stage is what we’ve done for the longest…We’ve been acting on stage since Don’s [Bradman] death.”
“We have a fairly scripted show but it’s pretty live. Our show is kinda like Don Bradman: he comes out with the strokes he wants to play but he takes each ball as it comes.”
In terms of their type of comedy, Broden thinks that it strikes a chord amongst younger audiences due to it’s off-the-wall nature.
“The kids just love memes and drugs. Our new show is just fifty minutes of memes.”
“In all seriousness, the internet has changed the way we consume media. These days you can find whatever you want to watch; you’re not defined by what other people choose to program…just look at Tim and Eric as well as Eric Andre. They’ve been receiving huge audiences in Australia but they aren’t played on major networks.”
Aunty Donna are no strangers to taking risks either. For their Australia Day special last year for Melbourne’s Channel 31, they decided to just get really pissed on live television which resulted in one of the loosest pieces of television in recent memory.
“Man, that episode was dark! When Zach got drunk that was pretty dangerous. We thought the only way to save the show was to drink too much alcohol. These shows are usually done in the middle of January when we’re really time poor — the crew were all uni students too just like you guys.”
The boys don’t lack any bravado either. When asked who the strongest comedy group in history they could beat up, Broden had this to say.
“The Marx Brothers because they had huge issues like polio and bone structure issues. Their blood was anaemic and shit. We would fight dirty, they would probably go bareknuckle.”
“Actually, no. We’d beat the shit out of Tripod. Yon fights dirty, but I reckon I could take Scott and Gatesy. They’re also really old too and we’re young. Same thing with the Umbilical Brothers.”
In terms of what audiences should expect from Aunty Donna this year, best let Broden explain.
“We will be bringing sketch comedy to Adelaide that would do Don proud. We’re going to be hitting an average of 99.94 runs a show; we’re going to be hitting a six for comedy though we’re not sure how that will translate for American audiences because they love baseball — Abraham Lincoln played cricket actually.”
You can catch Aunty Donna at the Arts Theatre on Thursday, March 9 at 8:30pm and on Friday, March 10 at 8:30pm.