One my friends is a pentecostal Christian and a couple of times, many years ago, he invited me to his church. I saw the laying of hands, people speaking in tongues – their fervour at such a level that some fell to the ground in a sort of ecstatic religious seizure. I watched an elderly man jig in the corner throughout the whole service, seemingly unable to stop.
And none of that came close to the hysterical crowd for Aunty Donna. They were a sold out room. They were believers.
To borrow a term from professional wrestling, Mark Bonamo, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane are about as “over” with this MICF audience as you could get. Supported by DJ, Tom Armstrong, Aunty Donna ran through a hilarious set.
As is often the case with live acts, it’s the unexpected moments that still have you chuckling long after you’ve left the venue. Having a scene hijacked by the crowd cheering Tom’s first word until it became a standing ovation was fantastic. Also, the man who offered his favourite film as Samsara wasn’t so much funny as just… random (Samsara? What?).
In some ways, being as popular as they are must make their creative process that much more difficult, in that they know they wouldn’t have to necessarily work very hard to get their audience laughing. What’s so nice, then, about their work and this show is that they don’t settle for the easy laugh. There’s hard work, good writing, and strong physicality at play. Great stuff.
If there’s still tickets left, it’s worth a trip. Maybe consider some ear plugs though, as whether it’s the cheers, or the amp, it gets loud. Inner ear trauma never sounded so funny.
Aunty Donna Big Boys
Max Watts, 125 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 5 April 2017 – 9.45pm
Season continues to 23 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Aunty Donna (supplied)
Review: David Collins