TV review: Cardinal Burns | It's a celebration of bravado over brainpower, says Julian Hall

TV review: Cardinal Burns

It's a celebration of bravado over brainpower, says Julian Hall

The opening sketch of Cardinal Burns new series, promoted Channel 4 from E4, is quite literally fleet-of-foot. The decision by the production team to fly in world champion rope-skippers from Belgium (yes, really) pays off and sets the right tone for the quirky, brave and ridiculous comedy of Seb Cardinal and Dustin-Demri Burns.

The successful participation of two pissed-up businessmen in the impressive stunt is another example of misplaced confidence paying off in Cardinal Burns’ world of bravado over brainpower.

Cue returning favourites The Office Flirts, whose preposterous demands for flirting time in the office are rarely denied and their ability to stretch the freedom of temping to ludicrous proportions is rarely checked.

Then there’s the rampant confidence and libidos of Hashtag and Bukake, two Turkish minicab drivers whose fairly pedestrian exploits are stylized as if they were in a 1980s buddy movie, so that even moving student to new campus digs is an epic adventure.

Conversely, the smug clubbers arriving at their nightclub destination in their smart wheels, but spectacularly failing to park, are completely humiliated – but even they front it out longer than most.

Bringing a more constant state of bathos is Seb Cardinal’s suburban take on Banksy. Appearing as if he was one of Newman and Baddiel’s People of Restricted Seriousness, Cardinal’s Banksy bumbles through his humdrum existence, making little impression on anyone or anything until he takes out his trademark spraycan, of course.

In this episode it’s his adopted son who suffers at his hapless hands when an attempt to brand a horse with his latest concept goes predictably wrong.

Meanwhile, I Know Your Name, a chat show fronted by Maris Piper (Cardinal’s take on Irish film critic Mark Cousins, a rare direct pastiche) and the recurring Young Dreams sketch (their Made in Chelsea homage) provide fresh takes on corporate jargon and fart jokes respectively.

It’s bad taste done in the best possible way. First, it’s clearly done by two performers who enjoy each other’s company, and, second, it's done with an unashamed showiness that manifests itself in cinematic production values, fast, upbeat editing and genuine commitment to their premise - something that marked them out from some of their sketch contemporaries in Edinburgh.

While the long-form approach may not make them household names in the Fast Show mould, Cardinal Burns stage to screen journey has been a success, and one effected in a short space of time.

At the press screening of this episode earlier this month a member of the audience said he was working at the BBC when they passed on Cardinal Burns. He said that the powers-that-be had said that the duo were still 'too fresh'. They might come to regret that verdict.

Review date: 30 Apr 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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