Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Review: CARDINAL BURNS (E4)


Cardinal Burns is the perfect sketch show for youth-skewing E4, as comedians Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns transfer their stage expertise to television, relatively fresh from sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival and London's Soho Theatre. It's always exciting to see fresh faces on our screens, with no baggage and preconceptions clouding what they do. It's simply a case of: are these two men and what they write funny? Thankfully the answer was a definite yes, with Cardinal Burns turning in a strong first episode that actually got progressively better after the ad break.

Five laugh-out-loud sketches and one potential classic in a little under thirty-minutes? You can't argue with that hit-rate, especially as everything else kept a solidly amusing standard.

It was noticeable how many of the duo's targets were creative types, too: actors, artists, filmmakers, reality stars, street poets, etc. It gave the show a hip quality as they punctured the pretensions of such people the youth of today look up to, or aspire to become. The most triumphant sketch being a hilarious audition where a jobbing actor was put through unreasonable and humiliating demands in an audition, culminating in him miming a threesome with two invisible giant hawks. Quite a broad joke, but tempered with brilliant physicality, observations, and remarks—such as the perfect moment with the director's confusion the actor couldn't comply with his demand to defy gravity. A brilliant moment, but there were others snapping at its heels...

My second favourite sketch was probably The Real Banksy, which hysterically poked fun at the world-famous street artist's mysterious persona. Here he was revealed to be a conceited dimwit making dumb political statements after trips to Homebase to buy his paints, constantly wearing a false nose-moustache-glasses disguise. It was one of those idea you can't believe someone hasn't done until now, which are often the best.

Also raising some laughs were the vomiting cops (a modern answer to Monty Python's Mr Creosote sketch, where two hard-faced detectives couldn't stop themselves puking over everyone and everything at a gruesome murder scene), Jean-Pierre the fly (where a French fly-wrangler's trained insect was offhandedly killed during the making of a movie), and bizarre parody of MTV's The Hills called Young Dreams (where three young fashions interns flatshare, including one unintentionally rude Japanese girl who points out another girl's enormous mole).

I wasn't quite so enamoured with the other sketches, such as Office Flirt (where a nerdy man's status as the harmless office flirt was spoiled by the arrival of hunky newcomer), but nothing was outright terrible. Or anywhere close to poor, really. This was a strong half-hour debut for Cardinal and Burns, which should help win them a big audience through word-of-mouth for E4. Well, provided they haven't put all their best stuff in the first episode, of course. If subsequent weeks keep this level of quality, are they destined to nab the British Comedy Award from Horrible Histories next year?

Aside

  • You can see more from The Real Banksy on his very funny Tumblr. A clip of a forthcoming sketch is also embedded below. And you can follow the duo themselves on Twitter.
written by Seb Cardinal & Dustin Demri-Burns / directed by Ben Taylor / 8 May 2012 / E4

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