The Obituary Of Eric Rushton
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
A tireless performer, a tired lover, and a tiresome person to talk to: Eric Rushton died yesterday, aged 54.
Any comedian that dies on stage instantly attains legend-status. Tommy Cooper in 1984, Ian Cognito in 2019 and now Eric Rushton, who, during his show in Milton Keynes, choked on his own hilarious and emotionally powerful words, as well as a Smoky Bacon flavoured crisp that he stole off an audience member in the front row. Instead of panicking and attempting to help, the audience, thinking it was all part of the act, loudly booed and shouted, “Get him off, he’s fucking shit.” It was only when the owner of the crisps went to retrieve them that everyone realised that something much more serious was happening.
By the time the ambulance had arrived, it was too late. The show had resumed, with Eric’s dying body pushed to the back of the stage and the compere now riffing some fairly AI-phobic jokes about self-driving Uber Cars. The paramedics, completely forgetting their duty, were engrossed by the compere’s handiwork and sat down to enjoy the rest of the show. On the one hand, it was an egregious example of medical negligence, on the other hand, a testament to stand-up comedy and the power it has to bring people into the moment.
When we look back over his life, we might rue over just how little we appreciated Eric while he was around. He had some mainstream success: an appearance on the non-celebrity version of The Chase in the 20’s, a Mock The Week appearance in 2034, and most notably, an appearance on the celebrity version of the chase in 2042 – an episode mostly remembered for the hologram of Bradley Walsh laughing uncontrollably after saying the phrase blue waffle. A classic TV moment.
Like someone who’s not successful, Rushton shied away from success, instead preferring to be unsuccessful. He built up a small cult-following through his blogs, his videos, and of course, his stand-up. Complaining about not having a girlfriend when he didn’t have one, and complaining about his girlfriend when he did, Eric’s material was highly unique. Eventually critics agreed and in 2046 he accepted the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for Humour, despite it not having been offered to him. He called it, “The proudest moment of my life.”
Was he happy? Who could really say? He could, and the answer was almost always no. But he never gave up on the belief that his work and art could change all that. “Art is my saviour. It’s potential to heal divisions and provide personal redemption is limitless,” he wrote in his self-published autobiography Eric Rushton: I Love Bad Bitches.
In that same book, he spoke about another key moment in his life: the death of his father.
Early January in 2020, a fresh decade brought a fresh challenge, and the 23-year-old Rushton was confronted with more emotions than he could deal with. The passing of his Dad suddenly made death real, rather than something that just happened to celebrities like Keith Chegwin.
In some ways, it didn’t have the impact you’d expect. Often we get fed this idea that death puts everything into perspective, bringing what’s important into sharper focus, making our everyday anxieties seem trivial and therefore extinguishing them. But for Eric those everyday anxieties and problems never really went away. He still thought about his hairline and his teeth and his posture and whether or not people knew how bad he was at buttering bread evenly. If the death of relatives actually brought that kind of psychological freedom, then he would’ve let loose with a machete at a family barbecue many years ago. (And then used that very same machete to lumpily spread some lurpak on a burger bap).
What that death did do, however, was make him think about how he’d be remembered.
The stories shared about his dad, the memories and the nostalgia that they induced, it made him realise that it’s only once someone’s story is over that we can appreciate what it added to our lives. He wondered what people would write about him when he died, what stories they would tell, whether he could live a life that added value to other people’s lives.
“I hope that people realise I tried my best and didn’t mean to be such a whiny prick,” he wrote. “I hope I metaphorically touched people.”
If the messages that flooded into his Tik Tok account (an extremely outdated platform) are anything to go by, then he succeeded in that regard.
Eric is survived by his extremely objectively attractive wife Helena, and his son James, who he raised to be a successful Backgammon player.
Eric Roy Rushton, comedian, writer, father, husband and platonic friend, born 10th May 1996; died 19th January 2051.
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