BYO refillable laughs when you enter Aunt Donna’s coffee, a crazy new comedy from the crew that first hit television screens as part of ABC Fresh blood initiative in 2015.
Since that debut the trio have garnered an international fan base from comedy tours and a Netflix series, Aunt Donna’s Fun House. Their humor lashes out at you, without explanation, and we’re better for it.
Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane are now comedy baristas running their own hipster café Morning Brown, a hip and expensive destination for inner-city Melburnians in an overcrowded market. It’s dodgy on toast, coffee merchandise, Platypus dairy-free lattes, and magazines with spicy goss on Bec & Lleyton Hewitt.
What’s missing are cool customers, or really none to speak of. So Mark, Broden and Zach, always playing anarchic and exalted versions of themselves, embark on a new mission to attract them, as explained to new teenage employee Stephanie (Gaby Seow).
But their introduction falls short of anything an HR department would approve of, veering into all sorts of surreal multiple characters, musical numbers, cameos, and nutty comedy. Inspired by social media clips of cafes with trendy hooks, the teens have ideas for workshops to attract clientele: robot waiters? Coffee with cats? Are the staff insulting customers?
As workplace comedies go, the absurd jokes come thick and fast, eclipsed by the next punchline just before the last one has settled. Director Max Miller and writer Sam Lingham keep the ball in the air, having worked extensively with Aunty Donna.
Resistance is futile, check your logic at the door and go with cameos from the likes of Nazeem Hussain and Stephen Oliver as a hilarious Pied Piper. The supporting cast also includes Sally-Anne Upton as the boy’s landlady, Michelle Brasier as a regular, and Vidya Rajan as The Nameless One, described as “more of a daunting specter than a human being”.
Other episodes will feature Richard Roxburgh (as Rake), Pia Miranda, Shaun Micallef, Miranda Tapsell, Tony Martin, Melanie Bracewell and Sam Pang.
It all makes for an entertaining absurdity, reminding us why ABC Comedy still leads the genre, championing original voices and risky ideas rather than replicating traditional tropes.
Wednesdays at 9pm on ABC.