Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House Of Fun | New Netflix series reviewed by Steve Bennett © Netflix
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Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House Of Fun

New Netflix series reviewed by Steve Bennett

‘Madcap’ doesn’t always get a good rap as a comedy genre, but that’s what sketch trio Aunty Donna have been pumping out for the best part of a decade, since meeting as students.

They’ve put out a new live show pretty much every year since then, as well as increasing content online – a formidable work ethic and hardwire rapport reflected in just how densely their insane ideas are packed into each 20-minute episode of their debut Netflix series.

Big Ol' House Of Fun is a direct descendant of The Young Ones, brimming with punkish energy, a cartoonishly loose grip on reality and a rampant disrespect for the conventions of television.

And like The Young Ones, if you’re not attuned to their zany wavelength, no one will ever convince you that they are even vaguely funny. But succumb to their illogical verve and their daffy, good-natured charm, and you’ll have a ball.

Opening the first episode, Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane bundle into their shared house, decorated in primary colours worthy of a kids’ TV show, and launch a high-octane number from their live shows, Everything’s A Drum, trashing so many props in their unbridled enthusiasm. Then they swivel from upbeat glee to overwrought melodrama on a sixpence for some lovely comic contrast, before reverting to their exuberant type.

A very loose plot has the trio seeking a new flatmate after a falling out with their sentient dishwasher - told you it was like The Young Ones – aptly voiced by Kristen Schaal, who occupies a similarly twisted comic universe in her comedy.

A string of interviews for her replacement allows them to crack dozens of surreal gags in quick succession, while a visual gag that blights poor Zach is wonderfully inventive.

True to sketch comedy lore, there are misfires. A Family Fortunes/Feud skit seemed to be trying just a bit too hard to be obtuse for my taste, but the pace is so breakneck nothing really outstays its welcome, and even in this brief scene there are a couple of strong gags.  Big Ol' House Of Fun feels as if it would stand up to repeated viewings to spot every throwaway line or visual gag  that’s been shoehorned in.

Created by three youngish men with no twinge of responsibility, the show inevitably exudes a certain ‘bro’ energy, but they ridicule that as freely as anything else, mocking the juvenile name they gave to their wi-fi, for instance.

A bunch of guests mix things up in future episodes, including Ed Helms, who’s an actual executive producer of the show, urging the threesome to get their programme back on track. As if!

Bursting with manic creativity, Big Ol' House Of Fun is the show the word ‘shenanigans’ was invented for.

Review date: 12 Nov 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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