Stand-up comedian Ian Cognito died onstage during a performance in Bicester last night. Thinking it was part of his act, audience members at the Lone Wolf Comedy Club continued to laugh after Cognito, had fallen ill, according to the BBC.
John Ostojak, who attended the gig, told the BBC, “Only 10 minutes before he sat down he joked about having a stroke. He said, ‘imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh’.”
Ostojak explained: “We thought it was part of the act. We came out feeling really sick, we just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him.”
According to the BBC, the 60-year-old comic sat down on a stool while breathing heavily, before falling silent for five minutes during the show. Eventually an ambulance was called, but Cognito was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, had been performing on the stand-up scene since the mid-eighties. He won the Time Out Award for Stand-up Comedy in 1999.
Paying tribute to his fellow comedian, Rufus Hound wrote on Twitter: “Ian Cognito has died. That might not mean much to you if your knowledge of stand-up only extends to a screen but for anyone who ever sat down in a comedy club and saw him on a stage – this is a hard one. Puck grew up and now Puck is dead. We have lost one of the greats.”
Jimmy Carr spoke about his relationship with Cognito, tweeting: “I’ll never forget his kindness when I started out and how god damn funny he was.”