There's far more invention and daring originality in Eric Rushton's best routines than many of his more celebrated and high-profile peers approach in an hour. The Midlander recently won Channel 4's inaugural Sean Lock Comedy Award for embodying the alternative comedic spirit of the late stand-up. And the lineage that implies isn't too wide of the mark.
Rushton perhaps isn't as capable of the cheeky chappie crowd-pleasing that latter Lock was so effortlessly accomplished at. Yet framed by his bespectacled, everyman appearance, working-class horizons and near-deadpan delivery, cracked with an endearing grin whenever a bit truly lands, he's a veritable poet, reconstituting the mundane and commonplace with some truly audacious flights of fantasy.
As part of that lyricism, he's also – despite his show title and more playful, superficial observations – seemingly in direct correspondence with his soul, the abiding routine of this hour relating to his joke-writing, with the bleak conceit that the success or otherwise of his creativity is inextricably linked to his will to live. Whether reinvestigating platitudes like “preaching to the choir” or cliches like swimming with dolphins from oblique perspectives, Rushton's wit tends to be inflected with just a dash of dark insight into his mental health.
Meanwhile, you get the sense of a frustrated romantic, so that even when he inhabits the mindscape of Nicki Minaj or makes a self-consciously awkward analogy between comedians and porn stars, it's reconcilable with him opining on love and the human condition. Understatedly delightful stuff.