Veteran British comedian Ian Cognito truly had a show that was impossible to follow Thursday evening when he tragically died on stage. The comic, 60, reportedly sat down and put his arms and heads back, leading the audience to believe the routine was part of his act.
“He came out feeling really sick. We just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him,” John Ostojak told the BBC.
After a few minutes, Cognito’s fellow comedians realized something was wrong and rushed onto the stage to help him. They called an ambulance and a paramedic in the crowd began performing CPR, but sadly officials declared Cognito dead at the scene.
Host Andrew Bird, who runs the Lone Wolf Comedy Club event at the venue, told the BBC that the comedian had not been feeling well before the gig started, but insisted on going on stage. “He was his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking, ‘He’s having a good gig,’” Bird said, adding that Cognito had even joked about his health during his set. He reportedly told the audience, “Imagine if I died in front of you lot here.”
Cognito (his birth name was Paul Barbieri) was born in London in 1958 and had been performing since the mid-1980s.
Comedians mourn Ian Cognito on social media
Comedians immediately took to Twitter to post sympathies and memories of the comic, who many admitted would probably hate, or at the very least, be suspicious of the outpouring of support.
Really sad to hear about the death of Ian Cognito. The thing that’s making me smile is that if Cogs was reading the obits, he’d be going
“Oh, I’ve got a story about her”
“That Cunt owes me money”
“Who the fuck is he?”
— Christian Talbot (@TheTall_Bot) April 12, 2019
Fucking hell, Ian Cognito, an absolute firecracker of a man, he once stayed over at mine and when we woke up in the morning he was gone. It was a second floor flat and the front door was deadbolted. I asked him how he said he had no recollection. Sleep well friend xx #RIP
— Bethany Black Acceptance Month (@BeffernieBlack) April 12, 2019
Ian Cognito has passes away. Gigged with him when i first started out and he was always so much fun, had his own mythology on the circuit his exploits where legendary. A true maverick. Hope he’s found somewhere to hang his coat in heaven.
— Jack Whitehall (@jackwhitehall) April 12, 2019
Comedian Jimmy Carr added to the lovefest. “Veteran stand-up comedian Ian Cognito has died on-stage—literally. The audience thought it was part of the act. Died with his boots on. That’s commitment to comedy.”