“Cardinal Burns” (DVD Review)

July 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

He’s Seb Cardinal (above, right) and he’s Dustin Demri-Burns (above, left), and together they are…Cardinal Burns! Yes, it’s the eponymous TV debut from this highly gifted comedy duo which recently premiered on E4 and was, quite simply, the best of our homegrown genre since League Of Gentlemen.

Having long been treating sell-out audiences to live performances of their idiosyncratic humour, the Cardinal Burns series saw Seb and Dustin’s writing and performing talents brought to the small screen for the first time. Containing violence and scenes of a sexual nature, this character-driven sketch show is not for the easily-offended, but throughout its incredible spectrum of humourous delights lies something very beautiful indeed.

Occasionally silly and often obscure, there’s a darkness running through it that will please fans of the League Of Gentlemen ilk. It’s a slightly surreal and magical world with one-off sketches and recurring characters (Charlie the inept office pussy-chaser and his charismatic mentor, New Guy, offer both a sweetly-developed narrative and gem of a structural device), sharp writing, sensitive social observation and beautifully-realised characterisation full of attentive mannerisms and vocal inflections. Even the send-ups like the self-centred reality drama-bitch you hate to love, Rachel, privileged spoken word tit Switch, Homebase-frequenting, lovable dullard Banksy, and the spot-on pseudo-Indie Kookyville (featuring an inspired Joe le Taxi rendition) are constructed with a certain derisive affection.

But is it funny? Yes, often laugh-out-loud funny (I laughed until I cried at Gary Hall’s class of rock-wannabe simpletons), but it’s so much more than that; there’s a lovable charm to it that transcends the inherently subjective nature of sketch comedy, and Seb and Dustin have such an innate and effortless talent as performers, both individually and with a rare and boundary-defying chemistry together, that they are always a joy to watch. So much so, in fact, that you cannot help but be reminded that comedy can exist as an art form as well as pure entertainment. Their comedic range is impressive to say the least, with a vast and abstractive imagination that asks only for a suspension of belief (the Scottish folie à deux in a “beautiful, well-stocked cafe” is one such impeccably-delivered treat.)

Directed by Ben Taylor and with a very pleasing production from all involved, Cardinal Burns could well be your wisest comedy purchase since the last time you purchased something this good. Be sure to check out the extras where you will find some behind the scenes action, slightly tipsy and informative commentary from Seb, Dustin and sometime-contributors Chris Hayward and Nat Saunders (they of Misery Bear, Worm Hotel, and now added Cardinal Burns live show fame) and, above all, Minor Mishaps in the cut sketches section (it’s probably the single most endearing comedy creation I’ve yet seen.) To conclude: it makes me glad I haven’t died yet.

You can catch up with the entire series now on 4od, and for those who will be in or able to get to London for September the 27th, they will be performing their acclaimed live show at Kings Place on that very evening.

Buy at Amazon.



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