Surprising success? Nah, irreverent trio Aunty Donna was always destined for world domination

Aunty Donna

After screaming onto our radar at the Melbourne Comedy Festival more than 10 years ago, local trio Aunty Donna have revealed their next move … and it might involve more cheese, Christmas puddings and teacher jokes (or not).

The boys have a “surreal” absurdist sketch-style web series, a weekly podcast, a YouTube channel with 453,000 subscribers (with 84 million views), a Netflix series and a fourth world tour on the horizon.

Phew, what else? We’re “chuffed” to learn the ABC is rewarding these post-graduate comedians with their own show, Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe, premiering on April 12.

What we know so far

Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane met at high school, developed their sketch comedy at university and perfected it at a gazillion live comedy festival appearances along the way.

Their fate was sealed: A collective career in comedy rather than careers in education.

And for their latest gig with the national broadcaster, the Aunty Donna crew issued a statement to say they don’t need rescuing and for their cult following to strap themselves in for “a wild ride”.

“Hello, it is Aunty Donna and not an evil robot that has taken Mark, Zach and Broden hostage. We are so excited for all the humans to see our new comedy.

“We are thankful to all the machines that work tirelessly for us with no thanks … we are fine and do not need help nor rescue.”

Aunty Donna trio in one of their footpath wild rides. Photo: ABC

There are also special treats in store.

Interwoven through their unique brand of sketch comedy is a collection of comedians and actors including actors Richard Roxburgh, Pia Miranda, Miranda Tapsell and former Mad as Hell host, Shaun Micallef.

Comedians Tony Martin, Melanie Bracewell (The Cheap Seats) and Sam Pang (The Front Bar) get a look in and join comedy royalty including Weird Al Jankovic and Ed Helms (The Hangover franchise) who have worked on previous Netflix projects.

That’s not all – Hollywood wanted in

Last week, Paramount Pictures dropped a bombshell, announcing Aunty Donna‘s mad trio had been cast in the Australian release of table-top game-turned influential movie franchise, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.

It has a bunch of big names like Christopher Pine (Don’t Worry Darling, Star Trek), Michelle Rodriguez (Fast and Furious family), Justice Smith (Jurassic World), Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) and Sophia Lillis (Gretel & Hansel).

The pinnacle. Red carpet stuff. Oscars?

Well, it’s just their voices.

Bonanno is Corpse One, with the sad title of Unnamed Soldier, who is awoken from his eternal slumber by a magic token granting its user (Pine) five questions of the dead.

Kelly is Corpse Two, the outrageous warrior Toke Hortgath, and Ruane is Corpse Four, a combatant called Sven Salafin.

Working with Chris Pine

Kelly revealed The Project‘s friend-of-the-show comedian, Michael Hing, had asked if he’d join the panel to talk about the upcoming Hollywood film adaptation.

“[He] is a diehard D&D fan, and he texts me the other day saying that they’ve been offered me as an interview for D&D. This is someone we know very well,” he told aureview.

“He says, ‘I think we’re going to ask for Chris Pine’, and I told him, “No, you need to talk to me, because I’m in the movie.” (Playing a corpse, doing voice-overs only.)

Adds Ruane: “I’m not actually that big a fan. Well, I wasn’t, so when I watched the film … it’s such a fun adventure of a romp.”

He’s converted: “I had so much fun watching this film that I think I am now a Dungeons & Dragons fan.”

So what about technically working with Pine?

They say they’re not being used by the Hollywood machine, but the opposite, that they are under Aunty Donnas thumb.

Aunty Donna’s Netflix series. Photo: Netflix

A decent body of work

In 2018, Aunty Donna branched out into the music industry and released a self-titled album which debuted at number 30 on the Australian charts and received an ARIA nomination for best comedy release.

A year later they released their biggest 16-part web-series, Glennridge Secondary College, which has been watched more than 500,000 times on YouTube and went on to be nominated for an AACTA Award in the best online drama or comedy category.

Then it was Aunty Donna’s 2020 Netflix six-part series produced by Helms, Big Ol’ House of Fun!  which “took viewers along for an absurdist adventure through their everyday lives”.

It received worldwide acclaim and was loved by fans everywhere, including actor Neil Patrick Harris and drag show TV host RuPaul.

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