A new series from Aunty Donna is always something to look forward to, particularly after the recent TV comedy drought, and Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café does not disappoint.
In this series, Zach Ruane, Broden Kelly and Mark Bonanno have opened a trendy Melbourne laneway café in which…funny things occur. And unlike everything else the ABC’s made recently, none of the characters are falling in love, no one’s getting over a traumatic event, and there’s no big moment in episode five which will happily resolve itself in episode six.
Right out of the blocks, Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café is the kind of show where plot, character and logic aren’t really a thing. The café’s fully of wasps? Call in the Pied Piper (Black Comedy’s Steven Oliver) to eliminate them. A bloke’s stealing blueberries out of the muffins? Put him on trial, with Zach as the judge, Broden as the prosecutor and Richard Roxborough as Rake from Rake appearing for the defence.
But wait, wouldn’t it be a bit much to make the whole episode a courtroom drama? Possibly, so we find Mark, due to a complicated series of events, being interrogated by a series of Primary School teachers who suspect he’s a sex pest. Meanwhile, back at the trial, isn’t that Matt Doran reprising his role of Mouse from The Matrix in the background? Why, yes, it is!
And while Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café could be dismissed as a bunch of in-jokes and surreal nonsense, there are other types of comedy going on too. Parodies, for example, with episode three featuring the best buck’s party pisstake we’ve ever seen, featuring blokes who can’t hold down conversations with each other, dumb activities preceded by tedious health and safety briefings, and a montage of the wild fun the partygoers should, in theory, be having. Also in that episode, look out for a pastiche of You Can’t Ask That featuring Tony Martin and Melanie Bracewell, and a pointed dig at ABC iView.
The beauty of Coffee Café‘s “anything can happen and probably will” approach, and the sitcom/sketch show hybrid concept, is that Aunty Donna can go anywhere and do any type of comedy. A scene with a training montage accompanied by what seems like generic background music suddenly becomes a scene with a training montage accompanied by a song glorifying hit-and-run driving. While a sub-plot which sees the café hosting an awards ceremony for real estate agents is an opportunity for some satire about how real estate agents push up prices and rip people off.
The sheer variety of types of comedy in Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café and the mostly excellent quality of it is staggering when you consider what the rest of Australian comedy is like now. But do not be deceived, Australian comedy is capable of excellence, and this is the proof. Put together an excellent, much-loved comedy team, add quality additional writers (Michelle Brasier, Greg Larsen, Sam Lingham, Tony Martin, Vidya Rajan, and Steven Oliver) and let them do their thing.
The only criticism we have of Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café is that six episodes are nowhere near enough.