Here at TCJ, we grumble about many things, but one concern in particular that rears its ugly head time and again is our growing frustration about the lack of recent, quality sketch shows. It has been 18 years since The Fast Show was first broadcast, arguably the finest sketch show these shores have produced, and since that time the Great British public have had to endure the likes of The Catherine Tate Show, Horne and Corden and Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show. Looking to readdress the balance and rectify the flagging reputation of sketch shows in the UK is Cardinal Burns, making its debut this evening on E4 and starring comedy duo Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns.
The failing of many sketch shows is the lack of consistency and the inability to vary sketches and characters successfully to keep the shows fresh and original. Already in its inaugural episode however, Cardinal Burns shows signs of achieving this. Characters such as the geeky office skivvy Charlie and the “new guy” at work training him in the ways of flirting are looking like developing well, which is a promising indication for the rest of the series.
It is also clear that Cardinal and Demri-Burns are very fine actors, which helps make the bizarre characters they portray all the more believable and involving. A sketch which demonstrates this superbly involves Demri-Burns playing a French fly coerced into a dangerous advertising scene by a moustachioed Cardinal. The fact that throughout the sketch both speak fluent French to one another is impressive enough, but to pull off fine comic acting and timing in the process is truly brilliant.
The production of Cardinal Burns is entirely original for a sketch show, and visually it looks exceptionally stylish and polished. The production team have also done well to stear away from canned laughter and catch phrases that I feel have have blighted and cheapened sketch shows for years.
Of course, it is vitally important that Cardinal Burns maintains the early promise it has achieved in the opening episode for the rest of the series and avoids the aforementioned pitfalls that previous sketch shows have failed to do. I certainly hope so, as in my opinion the programme looks set to be the finest post watershed sketch show I’ve seen in, oh, about 18 years…