Comedian Ian Cognito, 60, Passes Away in Middle of Stand-Up Routine

April 12, 2019 Updated: April 12, 2019

A comedian reportedly died on stage while performing a stand-up show in England on April 11. He was 60 years old.

Ian Cognito, whose real name is Paul Barbieri, fell ill during his performance at the Atic bar in Bicester, CNN reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrived, the owner of the venue, Ryan Mold, told the outlet.

He said Cognito was “around halfway through his set” when he fell ill before “he sat down, put his head and arms back [and] his shoulders were twitching.”

The audience thought it was part of his routine. A few minutes before, Cognito had spoken about suffering a stroke or heart attack, Mold said.

Mold noted that Cognito had a “flamboyant character on stage” so pretending to be sick or dying “didn’t seem unusual” to the audience in attendance.

But after a few minutes, other comics went on stage after realizing something wasn’t right. That’s when they called an ambulance and emergency crews tried to perform CPR on him.

“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.

Compere Andrew Bird, who was at the venue, told the BBC that Cognito was “was like his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking ‘he’s having such a good gig.'” He said that before, the comedian said he wasn’t feeling well.

What’s more, he added, Cognito had joked, “Imagine if I died in front of you lot here.”

When he got sick and sat down, “Everyone in the crowd, me included, thought he was joking,” Bird said. “Even when I walked on stage and touched his arm I was expecting him to say ‘boo’.”

John Ostojak, who was in the audience, was quoted by the New York Post as saying, “We just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him.”

Many comedians paid tribute to him following his death.

“Veteran stand-up comedian Ian Cognito has died on-stage — literally,” Jimmy Carr of “8 Out of 10 Cats,” wrote on Twitter. “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 [expletuve] funny he was.”

“Oh bless that Ian Cognito, who expired in his natural home last night, on stage,” comedian and newspaper columnist Mark Steel said on Twitter. “He was a difficult awkward hilarious troubled brilliant sort; a proper comic.”

“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 wrote.

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