Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Cardinal Burns: First Time Tour

By | Published on Thursday 4 September 2014

Channel 4 comedy types Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, they of – yes, the names give it away a bit – Cardinal Burns fame, are presently in the first stages of their first ever UK tour, and, Londoners, they are kicking it off with a substantial run at the Soho Theatre.


Ahead of their dates in the capital, I sent some questions to the British Comedy Award-winning, Bafta-nominated duo, to find out more about the past, the present, and the future.

CM: What can we expect from the show? Does it have any particular themes?
CB: Our show is a mixture of our favourite characters and sketches from both the TV series and previous live shows. We’ll also be introducing new characters we’ve been performing on the circuit this year. There’s no particular theme to the show. We simply wanted to create the most fun and exciting show we could. It’s varied, irreverent at times and hopefully a bit unpredictable.

CM: This is your first national tour, isn’t it? What made you decide to take this particular step now?
CB: Yes, it’s our first tour. We started out performing live, and love doing it, so we’ve always planned on doing a tour. The timing feels right now that our second series has aired on Ch4, meaning we’ve got a wider fan base. We’re both very excited to hit the road and take the show around the country.

CM: Going back to the beginning, how did you meet, and what made you decide to do sketch shows?
CB: We first met as film students in Edinburgh whilst editing our short films. We used to make each other laugh by doing different characters and then started trying to write these into various formats. Sketches are quite a good way of road-testing characters for an audience so, when we moved down to London, we would perform a few sketches in small venues, and then bigger venues, and then eventually for TV. Most of the comedians that we look up to started out in sketch comedy. It seems to be the best way to showcase multiple characters and it’s a good training ground for comedic storytelling.

CM: Is this the career you wanted?
CB: Initially we were both more interested in writing and directing for film and TV but then when we started performing characters ourselves our hearts set on having our own comedy show on TV which we could both write and perform in. It’s fun but often challenging – but we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

CM: You’ve done quite a lot of TV now. Which do you prefer, that, or live performance?
CB: Performing live can be a very pure form of comedy. Often it can be as simple as having an idea during the day and performing it live that night and knowing immediately if it works or at least has potential. Sometimes with television you are left second guessing and only knowing if something works once you’re in front of the crew and even then it’s not really until the edit, adding the right music, the right cuts, that you really know. That said, TV can be an incredibly satisfying and hugely creative, collaborative process. TV allows us to create and inhabit completely different worlds. You can also get so much out of the tiniest details, the twitch of a finger, a glance, a random cutaway that obviously you might lose on stage. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

CM: Is this national tour the start of something – do you think you will do it again?
CB: As long as we’re coming up with ideas, characters and scenarios that people enjoy and want to see then there’s always the chance we will continue. We’ve always performed live and are constantly coming up with ideas that we think would work well for the stage. The tour is just an extension of what we’ve already been doing for nearly 8 years. The TV show has allowed us to reach a larger audience and gives us the opportunity to play in towns where before no-one would have a clue who we are.

CM: What else do you have coming up?
CB: We’ve got a few new projects that are in development but we can’t give too much away. We’ll both also be appearing together in the latest Sasha Baron Cohen film as well as ‘Bad Education’ with Jack Whitehall, ‘Psychobitches’, ‘Kill Your Friends’ and the latest project from Julia Davies.

CM: Where do you see yourselves in ten years time?
CB: We see ourselves running comedy workshops/self help/therapy groups for ex bankers.

CM: Can you each describe your favourite London landmark, and what it means to you?
Dustin: My favourite London landmark? I’m rather partial to the shard myself. And I love the canals in and around east London. Nothing better than a day spent hanging out East and eating and drinking along the canals (yes I do have a fixie bike – no beard though).
Seb: I grew up living and going to school close to Hampstead heath. Even though I live East now it’s still my favourite part of London.

You can see Cardinal Burns at the Soho Theatre until 20 Sep, after which they head off on their big tour of the UK. To book tickets for the London dates, see this page here, and for info on the other UK dates, have a look here

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