The Umbilical Brothers

Shane Dundas and David Collins known as The Umbilical Brothers are an Australian comic duo.

The Umbilical Brothers
Umbilical Brothers with fan 2014.jpg
Dundas (left) and Collins (right) with a fan in 2014
MediumTelevision, stand-up
Years active1988–present
Notable works and rolesMaisy
The Upside Down Show
Don't Explain
Heaven By Storm
The Rehearsal
KIDSHOW (Not Suitable for Children)
MembersShane Dundas
David Collins


The Umbilical Brothers — or "Umbies" as they're fondly known — have been kicking around since the early 1990s, a creative partnership born of a friendship that began when Collins and Dundas were both studying at Theatre Nepean's three-year acting course at the University of Western Sydney, where their partnership began with a spontaneous Jackie Chan-style fight scene together. A year later, in a jazz class, Collins famously broke Dundas's nose during a dance move. Their tutors, perhaps believing a burgeoning comedy partnership should wait until after graduation, put Dundas and Collins in separate classes. The pair defied this, sneaking into the auditorium after-hours to play with the PA system and invent moves to match.

Their performances combine mime with ordinary dialogue and vocal sound effects. They use puppetry, pantomiming, slapstick, mimicry and audience participation, and make scant use of props and lighting. After having performed for seven years, their routines are highly scripted.

They have performed on the Late Show with David Letterman,[1] The Tonight Show with Jay Leno[2], The Late Show with Stephen Colbert[3], Broadway, Rove, Sarvo, Good News Week (expressly for the 'So You Think You Can Mime' segment) and The Sideshow.[citation needed] They have also performed at the Cat Laughs, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just for Laughs, Sydney Opera House, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Tampere Theatre Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and also at Woodstock 1999.[4]

They are also credited with the vocalizations on the animated children's show Maisy (with the exception of the show's narrator). Shane has also appeared on Double the Fist in the episode "Ultimate Weapon", playing a pair of mystical guards to the TimeSaw, one who lies and one who tells the truth. Both characters explode when The Womp tricks them into doing the opposite of their role.[citation needed] David won best actor at the world's biggest short film competition, Tropfest with Silencer, which he also co-wrote, co-directed and starred in. He also co-wrote and starred in The Luck Child for the Sydney Theatre Company, which won best production at Sydney Theatre Awards and Adelaide Fringe. He has also starred in the feature Red Christmas, as well as the TV shows Drop Dead Weird, Oh Yuck!, True Murder, The Let Down & Disney's Book Of Once Upon A Time. Short films include Puppets Versus People: Asylum (which has over a million views), Tay Man, Emissary, The Detectives Of Noir Town & The Kiss. His voice over work includes Helmut, King Dino: Journey To Fire Mountain & Cat God.

In August 2006, the Umbilical Brothers began appearing as the main characters, on a Logie Award winning children's television program called The Upside Down Show, that airs in the United States on Nick Jr., and in Australia on Nick Jr and the ABC. The show, developed by Sesame Workshop, makes extensive use of their particular style of mime and humour. In December 2006, in a New York Post interview, Shane Dundas expressed doubts about the return of the show for a second season.[5] In June 2007, Nickelodeon announced that they would not renew it for a second season.[citation needed] Collins stated that the reason for the cancellation was the 2007-2008 recession, which meant that the company could not afford to produce another season.

The two had voice roles in Maya the Bee as ant soldiers, with Collins voicing Arnie and Dundas voicing Barney.[citation needed]


The Umbilical Brothers have performed six shows, four of which appear as DVDs:

  • SpeedMouse: Taking advantage of the latest advances in performance technology, the boys have upgraded their acting to digital. Using this technology they are able to immediately jump to any routine or fast-forward through the boring bits. Unfortunately, the remote control has gone missing. Tensions arise when their newly hired roadie clashes with David — he points out that there is no need for a roadie as there are no props or scenery to move. The situation gets worse when their show controller, Tina, starts playing mind games with Shane. The conflict continues throughout the show.[6]
  • The Upside Down Show: A series of 13 comedic episodes first appearing on Noggin, starring Shane and David as two brothers living in an apartment with many doors. The show was released through five DVD volumes in Australia, each including two-three episodes each.[7]
  • Don't Explain: Don't Explain is a selection of tangent skits that contain no overall plot; the title is a reference to this. There are, however, continuing themes throughout the show, one of which is Dave's attempt to get the hand-held microphone off Shane; this leads to a climax in which they both have microphones and have a Face, Race and Chase Off. There is also a dog, which is first seen in their first skit of their show, and is the main focus of the second. Another is the performance of European Visual comedy by Hans and Klaus. Conflict again is one of the main factors keeping the show entertaining.[8]
  • Thwak!: a modified version of Don't Explain currently being performed (not available on DVD)
  • Heaven by Storm: Heaven by Storm is a more plot based show by the Umbilical Brothers. After dying (pre-show), Shane and David meet with God, who tells them that only one of them can enter Heaven. Due to their being unable to agree (and other issues), God sends them back to perform the show and resolve their difference. This culminates in Dave having a slight mental breakdown, shortly after which Shane tells Dave that there is a new character in the show, which Dave then finds out is a cricket which he had accidentally killed beforehand. Shane then chases Dave throughout the show trying to get money, or just 20c as Shane says, off Dave to help pay for the cricket's funeral.[9]
  • The Rehearsal: A new show with video effects including "shadow".[10]

DVD releasesEdit

  • SpeedMouse - Live from the Sydney Opera House (2004)
  • Don't Explain - Live from the Athenaeum theatre in Melbourne (2007)
  • Heaven By Storm - Live from Regal Theatre, Subiaco (18 September 2010)
  • The Rehearsal (3 November 2014)
  • Not Suitable For Children (16 August 2017)


  1. ^ "Umbilical Brothers didn't expect joke to last". "We met the Queen and David Letterman and all this stuff you can't imagine. I still can't believe it all happened. I am in the Matrix?". The Observer. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Umbilical Brothers bij Jay Leno". Youtube. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  3. ^ "The Umbilical Brothers Grab Donald Trump By The Pantomime". Youtube. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  4. ^ "The Umbilical Brothers". The Umbilical Brothers. Archived from the original on 3 March 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  5. ^ "QUITTING KIDS TV – 'UPSIDE' DUO TALK ABOUT GETTING OUT JUST AS HIT SERIES IS GETTING STARTED". Doing more episodes “is a big question for us,” says Dundas. New York Post. 27 December 2006. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  6. ^ "THE UMBILICAL BROTHERS SPEEDMOUSE". “You’re left only to shake your head and marvel” – NY Times. Riverside Theatres. September 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ McEvoy, Marc (17 October 2017). "The Upside Down Show". Today, their puppet becomes a movie director and asks them to make a film. Fairfax. The Age. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  8. ^ "The Umbilical Brothers Don't Explain". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Umbilical Brothers are all action". Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  10. ^ Blake, Elissa (6 December 2013). "Blood brothers". The Umbilical Brothers are committed to physical comedy and they have the scars to prove it. Fairfax. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 May 2019.

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