Comedy double-act Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns met eight years ago at film school in Edinburgh where they both realised they had no interest in making serious, highbrow films
And the pair still chuckle as they remember the dismay of their fellow classmates.
“Everyone was trying to make serious films and we were more interested in being funny and making silly films,” says Cardinal. “There were lots of earnest film students stroking their chins.”
Now the duo look set to enjoy the last laugh as they prepare to debut their very own self-titled show Cardinal Burns on E4.
Material from Cardinal Burns has come with an adult humour warning in the past, and they haven’t toned anything down for the new show.
Known for their cartoon-like characters from live performances, if anything it seems the foray into television has allowed them to reach new depths of surreal and gross-out humour.
In true E4 style, the channel has given the pair free rein to go as far as they like on screen.
“We’ve been given quite a large leash,” says Cardinal. “A lot of stuff, we thought, ‘We’ll never get away with this’, and now we’re watching the finished product.
“Dustin burns me alive in one of the sketches. We were given a lot of freedom.
“We’ve done a sketch called Vomit Cops which we could never do live - because of the props and filling up our mouths with sick. It would be hard to create that kind of atmosphere on stage.
“We could’ve done a really budget version of it, using pipes,” jokes Demri-Burns. “Or you could just turn your head and take a swig of sick!”
Following their stint at film school, they moved to London and wrote short comedy sketches with a mutual friend, Sophie Black, with whom they formed a trio called Fat Tongue.
They took their show to the Edinburgh Festival, which resulted in a nomination for the if.comedy award – formerly the Perrier award.
Cardinal and Demri-Burns then started doing shows as a double act and it wasn’t long before they were picked up by a production company. “It all happened fairly fast. I guess we weren’t entirely ready,” says Demri-Burns.
Just halfway through their first year performing as Cardinal Burns, they were spotted by Channel 4.
“It was great because there wasn’t any gestating period,” says Cardinal.
Although theirs seems a story of overnight success, it took long hours of slog to get to where they are now. Demri-Burns was a runner on property programmes such as Homes Under The Hammer, while Cardinal worked as an assistant film producer. The day jobs left them little time to pursue their interests in comedy.
“Coming home from work you’re exhausted and you don’t feel like being funny,” says Cardinal.
“There came a stage where we just about had enough money to do a pilot and we thought, ‘Let’s just commit’.”
While live material provokes an immediate response from the audience, Demri-Burns admits it’s sometimes harder to gauge the reaction of new sketches when surrounded by a film crew.
“If you make them laugh on the first or second take then that’s a good sign but then it doesn’t always mean it’s the best material. Sometimes stuff that doesn’t get an immediate reaction from the crew works well later – it’s those little details that work better on camera.”
With clips already creating a positive internet buzz, would Cardinal Burns be up for a second series? “Yes please!”