Cardinal Burns: web chat

Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, stars of the E4 sketch comedy, joined us for a live web chat to answer your questions...

The first season of E4’s hit sketch show Cardinal Burns came to an end this week. But’s readers were able to catch up with Seb “Cardinal” Cardinal and Dustin “Burns” Demri-Burns, to pick their comedy brains. In case you missed it, re-live the conversation here…


James: Those horror sketches last week were brilliant – especially the final Don’t Look Behind You sketch. Reminded me of the heady heights of League of Gentlemen and Psychoville. Are you fans of their work?

DUSTIN: We’re huge fans of theirs. They’ve always been an inspiration. Funnily enough we received an email from Steve Pemberton saying how much he enjoyed the show, which meant the world to us.

Will: Cardinal Burns was brilliant. But if you got a second series, what, if anything, would you do differently?

SEB: We loved lots of the running sketches: Office Flirt, Young Dreams, etc. But, if we get a second series, we’d love to do more one-off sketches to add a bit more variety.

James: Don’t take this the wrong way guys, but you both look a bit older than a lot of new comedy duos making their first show on TV — which I think actually might be a good thing. Your material isn’t needlessly shock factor, throwaway, etc. Is this because you guys met later than the average comedy partnerships, or have you just been plugging away for years on the comedy circuit?

SEB: We’re actually in our early twenties. We’ve just had very tough lives.

Shaun Watson: Hi guys, Cardinal Burns is the best sketch show ever — love it. Would you both consider touring the UK? I live in Newcastle and would definitely pay to see you guys live. And, I know others would too!

SEB: Thanks, Shaun. Yes, we’re actually talking about doing a tour of the UK at some point next year. However we will be at the Edinburgh Festival this year from 20 to 25 August.

TVEye: Hello, Seb and Dustin. Your show is very funny, but the overriding message looks to be that men are self-deluding idiots. Would you agree?

DUSTIN: Yep, absolutely!

Charlotte S: Who have been your favourite characters to play and why?

DUSTIN: My favourite characters would be Charlie the office flirt and also Jonesy the banter boy from Episode 4. They felt like characters I could slip in and out of the most easily. Oh, and of course Yumi.

SEB: I love playing Rachel. I suppose I love playing a real ‘batch’. Banksy is also a favourite of mine.

Rupert: How did you guys get into comedy?

SEB: We started off at film school, but our short films were too silly to be taken seriously. So, we started performing comedy, which felt like the right fit.

Tracey: Also, do you think you guys will do a UK tour?

DUSTIN: We are hoping to sometime in the near future, as we love doing the live shows. We are, however, performing at the Latitude Festival, Udderbelly and then heading up for the last week of the Edinburgh Festival this summer.

Daryl: Will we see more Jonesy and Metcalfe capers? A film spin-off perhaps?

SEB: If we were to do a spin off it would probably be of Young Dreams. It’s a format that allows for lots of comedy moments, and we love using the music to punctuate the drama. But, mostly, we want to dress up as girls.

Adam: I loved the series. I was wondering what other TV comedy do you rate highly? I’m particularly interested in what you think of other sketch shows. Which do you admire, and are there any you’re particularly influenced by?

DUSTIN: At the moment we like a lot of comedies that are coming over from America, Eastbound & Down, Community and Human Giant. In terms of British sketch shows, Big Train and The League of Gents have been massive influences.

Graeme: How do you deal with all the critics and daft haters on twitter, etc?

DUSTIN: You to have to expect criticism, especially of the constructive kind. People do seem to get incredibly angry over comedy though, and twitter can be cruel at times. When people criticise your teeth, though, you know not to take it too seriously.

Jane: I’d like to take a show to Edinburgh, how did you guys go about it?

SEB: We started performing short sets on the comedy circuit and invited the programmer from the Pleasance, which is one of the biggest venues, to come and see us. He liked our stuff, booked us into a small venue and gave us loads of advice along the way.

Robin: How much did you feel the shadow of previous male double acts hanging over you when you were doing the sketch show? You have your own voice that shines out in sketches like the stunt fly, Banksy and the French potato shop, but you can definitely see influences of Armstrong and Miller and Mitchell and Webb in there. And, the cabbies feel like a lovely homage to both Pete and Dud and Enfield and Whitehouse. Is this unconscious, or did you want to pay tributes to your favourite acts?

SEB: We always strived to make something as original as possible. There were a few occasions where we’d abandon an idea because it felt too similar to things we’d seen before. With Phil and Terry we were very aware of the similarities with Pete and Dud. So, if any of them, that was more of a homage.

James: There’s also an element of the show — I don’t know which, maybe Young Dreams — that vaguely reminds me of Chris Lilley’s stuff. Are you a fan of his? Angry Boys and Psychoville were the best things on TV last year, I thought!

DUSTIN: Yes, we are huge fans of Summer Heights High. The way Chris Lilley plays women is so accurate and natural. Similar to his work, we are more interested in the comedy of the character rather than the fact that we are two men dressing as women.

Krystal: Any news on a second series?

SEB: No word yet on a second series. Fingers crossed.

Splange: Okay, not a question, but I would just like to say thanks. I have laughed so much watching your show. It has been an utter joy to tune in for the last few weeks. The genius and originality of the sketches, the acting — wow, you both got the skills — and Yumi, who breaks my heart with those eyes every week.

James: Is there any extra material on the series DVD?

SEB: Yes a good few sketches that didn’t make it into the series and a drunken DVD commentary with writers Nat Saunders and Chris Hayward, who worked on the show.

Kim: So, how tall is Target Blonde?

Krystal: How tall are you?

DUSTIN: Eight foot in heels.

Ben Todd: Hi guys. Loved the show, and it was great to see sketch comedy being done so well. Why do you think sketch comedy often fails on TV?

SEB: Thanks, Ben. Having made the series, we realised how hard it is to make a sketch show. It can be very tricky coming up with so many characters and situations that can stand up on their own. Each sketch has to have a start, middle, an end and justify its place in the show.

Robin: How do you approach writing, together and individually, and how much of the series came from you and how much from other sketch show writers? Do you feel that if you create a character, you want to play them or do you write for each other?

DUSTIN: We reckon 80 per cent or so comes from us. We’d often come up with the characters and situations together, and then we would work with a small team of writers who help us develop the ideas further.

Laura: Hi, guys. Just want to say love, love, love the show you’ve kept me laughing for weeks. Keep it up so I can continue to laugh.

Vicki: Is Hollywood beckoning?

SEB: We did get an email from the directors of Blades of Glory recently who said they were fans of our sketches. If we ever got the opportunity we’d love to work in Hollywood one day.

Caroline: How do your different strengths and weaknesses complement one another when working as a team?

SEB: We often overlap with the way we work. We’ll improvise around characters and situations and then transcribe and edit. I’m often too critical at too early a stage, and Dustin is usually very positive which is a good balance I think.

Hendry: Great series, do you ever watch Burnistoun or Limmy’s Show from Scotland?

DUSTIN: Yes, really like both of those shows — they have a real voice to them. Love the Adventure Call sketch in Limmy’s Show.

James: You guys worked with, and near, Steve Coogan. What was that like? Is he like his portrayal in The Trip? Have you been badgering him for roles in the Partridge movie?

DUSTIN: We’re both huge fans of Steve Coogan. We were lucky enough to play alongside him in Saxondale as a Queen Tribute Band. I was Brian May. Seb, of course, was Freddie.

Andy: If you guys could do one of those trendy movie reboots, which film/films would you like to be in and as what characters? For example, think how much better the Lethal Weapon series would be with New Guy replacing Mel Gibson and Charlie in the Danny Glover role.

SEB: Haha. I like your Lethal Weapon reboot. How about Yumi and Rachel re-boot Thelma and Louise?

James: A lot more comedians are going online to get stuff out quickly, like on Funny or Die, and the last Alan Partridge material showed it can be a different way of playing with formats, eg 10-minute shows. Is that something that interests you guys?

DUSTIN: We are hoping, of course, for a second series and we are developing longer form narrative ideas. Online is a great platform. It allows you to be more experimental and less precious with your ideas. Check out Wainy Days on YouTube as great example of a very funny web series.

SEB: Thank you all for joining in and of course watching the series! Bye, bye.

DUSTIN: Thanks guys!

James: Cheers!

Tracey: Love you!


Can’t get enough Cardinal Burns? A DVD of the show’s first season is released on 18 June, and they perform on 3 July at the Udderbelly Festival in London.