We're 22 minutes into an interview with Aunty Donna’s Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zach Ruane, and the boys are in the midst of a heated discussion about their willies.
“I would love for upwards of 2,000 people to see my willy. But the joke would have to be right,” Mark says. Broden isn’t keen at all until mention is made of prosthetic testicles. Then Zach (who Broden only moments ago described as “a shy flower”) drops a bombshell – “I’ve gotten naked for performance art in the past.”
Mark is horrified. “When? Why wasn’t I invited to this show?” Zach is quick to hit back, saying “You were. You didn’t come.” Sadness crackles Mark’s voice. “I wish I’d been there to see that willy.” Broden commiserates, “I didn’t get to see the willy either.” Zach adds an even deeper level of melodrama to the tragedy: “They were both invited, but they didn’t come to see my willy.”
Interviewing Aunty Donna and trying to get straight answers is like fighting to maintain some semblance of control after a heroic dose of acid. You can try, but you’ll be up against a force far greater than yourself.
Enthusiastic trippers will tell you the trick with acid is to just let go, but if that was done here, this article would be all about Mark’s dead fictional sister, the child support he pays to actor Owen Wilson, the bitter divorces they’ve all been through (but haven’t really), and whether Alex Mack (90s kids will know) and the T-1000 from 'Terminator 2' could have a liquid metal baby together. There’d also be a large section dedicated to their app pitches, including 'The Cereal App', which tells you what type of cereal is in your bowl, but only if you scan the box it came in.
Zach is taking us through the details of not one but two serious performance art pieces in which he’s gotten his willy out when Mark has a revelation. “I have seen your willy! I went to the Mining Exchange in Ballarat and I saw your willy and a whole bunch of other people’s willies.”
If you’re a fan of Aunty Donna, you’ll love the fact that they plunge every interview into surreal madness, but you’ll also want to know some real things about their upcoming 'Magical Dead Cat' tour. So, we'll do our best to fit all that in while honouring the beautiful insanity of the interview.
Aunty Donna’s new tour will, in Zach’s words, be a “willy-free zone”. "We’re gonna go across the pond too. . . Not to New Zealand, mind you, just a small pond here in Brunswick, Melbourne.”
“But that’s just for lunch,” Mark chimes in. “There’s a great lunch location across the pond.”
This sends him off on a soliloquy about his lunch choices which is quickly cut off by Broden, who’s more concerned about fan reactions to their sold-out shows. “We started to get death threats from people saying ‘come to Darwin or I’m going to kill you’. And we were like ‘well, we’re definitely not going to come to Darwin if you’re going to kill us’.”
The death threatener in question said he’d travel as far as was necessary to murder them, which Zach says is just poor form. “You’re happy to travel to kill us. . . But you’re not happy to travel to see our show in another city?”
Though they’re happy to discuss death threat etiquette at length, Mark says they want to keep the details of their 'Magical Dead Cat' tour a secret. Zach is far more forthcoming. For this next bit, it’ll help if you imagine Zach speaking in his Fancy Man voice.
“We started as live performers. This is our domain. This is our environment. If you liked us on YouTube, get ready to be blown away. We are professionals. We are so good.” Broden tries to interject at this point, but Zach isn’t having it: “No, no, we are experts at our craft. We will take you on a journey, and let me tell you, no two shows are alike but every show is everything that you want to see.”
Mark introduces some mystery, explaining that there’s a slim but very real chance that they will just play their Netflix series, 'Aunty Donna’s Big Ol' House Of Fun', on an endless loop in the theatre. “We asked ourselves ‘is that a live show? Is that legal? Will people be mad?’ And what we came to was – f... them. We’re gonna do whatever we want. So you don’t know whether it’s gonna be a new live show or whether we’ll just play the series from start to finish.”
Broden reveals that their YouTube fans will feel right at home. “A lot of people who come to see us have never gone to live theatre before. So halfway through our show, there’s an ad roll, and just to the side of the stage is a bunch of comedians you may like to watch when we’re done.”
Taking things seriously for the briefest of moments, Broden acknowledges the uncanny amount of luck Aunty Donna has had since the pandemic and its “delicious and sumptuous lockdowns” took over our lives. “We were very lucky. We finished our Netflix show and then COVID took off. So we sat at home on Zoom and just hung out. Then we did the promotion for the show and came out of that right at the perfect time to be touring.”
Of course, it’s not all about them. Broden says the lads are stoked that they’ve been able to give people a laugh throughout this global ordeal. “We had a bunch of sketches that we hadn’t released, so we put those out and people were really happy. It was a total coincidence, but we were just really lucky that we had stuff there that people could laugh at and enjoy.”
In a rare moment of solemnity, the boys all agree that they were happy to have at least a little something they could offer. “It’s only a small thing we could do,” Broden says, “but the idea that we could give people a bit of distraction was lovely.”
Aunty Donna 2021 Australia Tour Dates
5-7 October – Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane) 9-10 October – The Playhouse (Canberra) 12-13 October – Astor Theatre (Perth) 17-18 October – Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane) 20 October – Home Of The Arts (Gold Coast) 21 October – Thebarton Theatre (Adelaide) 24 October – Astor Theatre (Perth) 27-29 October – Enmore Theatre (Sydney) 1-9 November – Arts Centre Melbourne 11-12 November – Theatre Royal (Hobart) 2 December – Enmore Theatre (Sydney) 4 December – Wollongong Town Hall 5 December – Newcastle Civic Theatre 7 December – Canberra Theatre 9 December – Darwin Entertainment Centre 11 December – Thebarton Theatre (Adelaide)