Sketches and snoods: a nice chat with Cardinal Burns
Andrew Mickel2 July 2012
Our favourite sketch 'lads' chat about the horrors of getting naked and the joys of getting Ofcom complaints about it.
Dustin Demri-Burns (the dark-haired one) and Seb Cardinal (the squint-and-he-looks-like-Neil Patrick Harris one) have long been lauded on the comedy circuit for taking their audiences with them on energetic, thoughtful sketches. Their epically-delayed TV debut – we tipped it in a magazine article ten ruddy months ago – finally broke on E4 this spring and was somehow even better, packing in mini-plots to six tight episodes, rather than just serving as catchphrase vehicles. They are, in short, great.
Let’s start with an appalling-quality clip that nonetheless proves the point:
The first question was provided by previous interviewee, character comedian and Pulitzer winner-in-waiting Cariad Lloyd (our chat with whom will be emerging later this week).
What's going on?
Seb: We're waiting to hear about whether we get a series and we're still writing for Edinburgh and getting ready for Latitude in two weeks. We're writing as if we've got the second series, just because it's comfortable for us.
The show was tremendous but it got delayed for so long before it appeared on the screens. What happened?
Dustin: They were worried about it clashing, first of all with Celebrity Juice, and they wanted to give us a really good slot.
Do you and Celebrity Juice have the same target audience?
Seb: I guess it crosses over and any cross over you want to avoid, especially as it's our first time and no-one knew us.
How was the feedback from the powers that be at Channel 4?
Dustin: They seemed pretty happy. And it's been well-received critically, and on Twitter, with the teenagers, and with our peers. We're really happy it was critically well-received.
Were you guys happy? Was it what you envisaged?
Dustin: To a point. I think it changed naturally. We didn't have a perfect idea what we'd have, it sort of evolved.
Seb: By midway through the writing we had quite an idea of how it should be.
Dustin: And a very clear idea of what it shouldn't be. We wanted stories happening within the sketches, and not just be premise-led.
Did you end up with catchphrases?
Dustin: We never wanted catchphrases. A couple of the Young Dreams girls tend to get quoted – you batch, Rachel pwease...it gets hashtagged.
You did get an Ofcom complaint.
Seb: That was to do with the nudity.
You must be proud to get one, though, a little bit.
Dustin: Yeah. I think it's from the opening trailer as well, before it even started...
As a show you do both your kit off a lot.
Dustin: It's a weird thing. Do we do it that much?
You remember that thing where Ofcom got complaints about your arses?
Dustin: It's you more than me I think.
Seb: Nudity is quite funny. I love the way with Will Ferrell you always see him naked. You're vulnerable, I think.
Dustin: That's why I like you do it more than me.
Is it uncomfortable on set?
Seb: I did have one point I was doing a speech as the new guy and I was naked except for a snood.
Dustin: A little snood.
Seb: A massive snood, and it just kept falling off. I had to do a big long speech time after time and it just kept falling off.
It's not good when you have to keep sending Wardrobe out to get smaller and smaller socks.
Seb: There was a girl who's job was literally to tape this thing on, and I'd just have to be, like, I'm sorry about this.
The show also didn't feel like the live stuff just plonked on TV – the most obvious one being the Scottish guys not turning up until the last episode because they are such a tentpole sketch of your live work.
Seb: Yeah, we did go around the houses with those characters. The Scottish guys is just such a live thing. We did think about them going into different environments and taking over, but it was just a bit flat. There was one idea where they are two brothers hosting Christmas, in a very passive aggressive way, and shout their family down like they're their employees.
Dustin: It was quite a learning curve from the live stuff. You have a set of characters but as you go on you realise some won't work on screen, and you have to constantly adapt.
What sketches got cut?
Dustin: One whole strand, about a Northern Irish guy called Ray working in a call centre – he's about 60-odd and everyone else is about 20, and he's completely out of place and behind the times. It was funny when we read it and performed it, even, and then in the edit we just had to cut it. It was too gentle, like a sitcom. It was a shame because we spent two days doing that.
You said in an interview last week you were looking at doing a sitcom, is that the idea?
Seb: as you write sketches you always have one eye on if any of them present themselves as sitcom material.
Dustin: We're just really focusing on the next step which will hopefully be another series of the sketch show.
And lastly your week in Edinburgh: for people who only know the TV show what can they expect?
Dustin: they'll be surprised. It won't be us doing cameos of the ones you've seen on telly. It's quite raucous. When we started doing live work we did it with stand-ups rather than sketch groups. We're trying to do stuff to the audience more, like the Scottish guys. But sometimes you bring it back to sketches because you just want a performance that isn't desperate to please. Plus there's the odd video clip.
THANKS CARDINAL BURNS.
They are playing the Underbelly tomorrow – tomorrow! – tickets for which are here. They are also doing the Pleasance for the last week of Edinburgh, tickets here.
Your rating: None
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