Stand-up comedian Ian Cognito died on stage performing on Thursday evening, and the audience kept laughing thinking it was part of the act.
The British comedian was in his early-sixties and was performing at the Attic Bar in as small English town Bicester.
Compare Andrew Bird who runs the Lone Wolf Comedy Club said that Cognito was feeling well before he went on to the stage, in fact, he insisted on going to stage.
“He was like his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking ‘he’s having such a good gig’,” Mr. Bird said.
“Everyone in the crowd, I included, thought he was joking. Even when I walked on stage and touched his arm I was expecting him to say ‘boo’,” Bird told BBC.
“He sat down, put his head and arms back; his shoulders were twitching,” Ryan Mold, who was present during Cognito’s performance, told CNN. He said, “audience thought it was part of his set” because just moments before he was talking about heart stroke and twitching didn’t strike them as something out of blue.
Audience member John Ostojak said: “Only 10 minutes before he sat down he joked about having a stroke.
“He said, ‘imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh’.”
Shortly after 10.00 p.m, South Central Ambulance arrived, and paramedics confirmed that he was dead.
“We were called at 22:11 last night to Crown Walk in Bicester to a medical emergency. We sent a rapid response vehicle and an ambulance crew but sadly one patient passed away at the scene,” the ambulance service told CNN.
Ian Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri was born in 1958 in London. He started his career as a comedian in 1985 and he himself claimed he is banned from most of the comedy clubs. He won the Time Out Award for Stand-up Comedy in 1999. Many comedians and contemporaries paid him tribute.
Jimmy Carr tweeted, “I’ll never forget his kindness when I started out…”
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. I’ll never forget his kindness when I started out & how god damn funny he was.
— Jimmy Carr (@jimmycarr) April 12, 2019
Jack Whitehall, who described Cognito as “true maverick”. He tweeted, “Giggled with him when I first started out and he was always so much fun, had his own mythology on the circuit, his exploits were legendary.”
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
Glee Club Birmingham also paid him tribute.
We're all very sad to hear of the passing of the legendary Ian Cognito. He was original, always hilarious, sometimes offensive and the true definition of 'one of a kind'. R.I.P Cogs x pic.twitter.com/KxV7hyTt6b
— Glee Club Birmingham (@GleeClubBham) April 12, 2019