Cardinal Burns at The Four Thieves
The sketch duo have been performing since meeting at film school in Edinburgh, offering audiences a brilliantly puerile alternative to the stiffness of other university comedy acts. They have amassed a sizeable following thanks to their televised show on Channel 4, evidenced by tonight’s many attendees keen to pre-empt punch lines to old sketches.
The majority of the material, however, is new, veering closer to improv than fleshed-out and thought-through gags. Self-assured and talented in their own stage abilities, they are able to get away with some very thin material by way of charisma and a forgiving crowd. Still, even that could not save the jokes from such underdevelopment as the set descended into silly accents and lazy stereotypes – seemingly for no reason. Tonight’s poor output is all the more disappointing when held up to earlier material that showed such imagination.
For comedian’s trying new sketches out, an enthusiastic crowd can be problematic. Jokes about low income workers, Irish immigrants and Turkish cab drivers appear from a bygone age; perhaps they’re laughed at because they seem slightly daring to a middle-class audience. There should never be sacred cows in comedy but the material comes across as sneeringly one-sided in parts, and the laughs are cheap for such an esteemed group.
Cardinal Burns have said in the past that they are an acquired taste and don’t expect to please everyone, which is commendable. They are universally lauded and have a growing fan base, but it’s hard to imagine they can sustain the same trajectory on the strength of tonight’s performance. They spread the jokes so thinly that even the broadest comedy can’t cover the glaring lack of substance.
Cardinal Burns was a one-off event at The Four Thieves on 27th March 2015, for further information about future events visit here.