Vale Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe

Okay, this is going to be a tough one. How do we review an Australian sitcom that’s actually funny?

Yeah, sure, Fisk was pretty good too, but c’mon. Fisk didn’t have an episode where a crippling addiction to playing a drumming arcade game really badly was resolved by having someone who’d shrunk themselves down to child size secretly hiding inside the game. Maybe it should have, but it didn’t.

Meanwhile, Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe had a whole lot of weird stuff, and then some more weird stuff on top of that. Which is good! Aunty Donna are extremely good at just the right kind of weird stuff, in that even when things gets weird there’s still clearly a joke in there somewhere that isn’t just “this shit is weird, right?” Good weird shit: tick.

For example, while it wasn’t the best part of episode two – the fake trial one, which had an over-abundance of “best parts” and then threw a few more “best parts” in just for the hell of it – the subplot where Mark had to explain to various authority figures exactly what he was doing in a primary school playground was pretty funny, because it wasn’t played as being funny at all.

Tonal shifts are hardly a rare way to get laughs – for one, they’re a standard part of Aunty Donna’s other work – but it’s always nice to see a comedy standard done really, really well.

It’s been interesting how Aunty Donna have… let’s say “balanced” their traditional weird shit honed over a decade of online sketches and live performances with the demands of creating something the ABC would put to air on their main channel. They’ve thrown in everything and the kitchen sink, while still keeping it all in a very large box that casual viewers could get a grip on.

Sure, there’s been some elements that – if they get a second series – we might expect to see fine-tuned a little. Looked at one way, the supporting cast have been a little under-used; looked at another way, did The Goodies even have a supporting cast?

It did also feel a little like they made six episodes, took a good hard look at them, and then shuffled them into a screening order where the best episodes were at the start of the run. This is not a bad thing – it’s not like there were any episodes that came close to being bad, and you always want to grab people early – but it did mean the energy levels and inventiveness felt a little down towards the end.

So yeah, by the end it was only 95% better than every other scripted comedy on the ABC that isn’t Fisk. Bad news everybody, guess that Mother & Son reboot is going to be the sitcom that redefines Australian comedy for the post-Covid era.

Fingers crossed that also features a lengthy conspiracy theory on why Australian currency features a whale sucking on a fat one.

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  • Simon says:

    “Did the Goodies even have a supporting cast”

    No, but they had guest stars – at least until Bill and Graham realised that the guest star was generally getting the best part in the episode and so they shifted the plots so that one of them would always go insane and the other two had to unite against him.

  • […] sight gag, odd character, or funny line. If you’re seeking big laughs, maybe catch up on Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café, which does high-concept sitcoms featuring big courtroom scenes way better, albeit with an emphasis […]