British comedian Ian Cognito, whose real name is Paul Barbieri, died on stage while playing in a stand-up in Bicester, England on Thursday night. He was 60 years old.
According to CNN, he fell ill at Atic Bar, a small English town north of Oxford. When the paramedics arrived at the scene shortly after 10 pm, he was already declared dead.
Ryan Mold, present at the Cognito show, told CNN that, in the middle of his set, "he sat with his head and arms back; his shoulders contracted.
Mold added that "the public thought it was part of his whole" because he had talked about a heart attack or a stroke a few moments ago and that his behavior was not as unusual as that of his flamboyant character.
A colleague, Andrew Bird, who runs the Lone Wolf Comedy Club's event at Atic Bar, told the BBC: "Everyone in the crowd, myself included, thought he was joking. Even when I came on stage and touched his arm, I expected him to say "boo". "
According to Mold, it took a few minutes before other comedians realized that something was wrong and were on stage to help the comic. After calling an ambulance, an on-site paramedic performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation while the rest of the public was vacant.
"We were called at 10:11 last night to attend a medical emergency at the Crown Walk in Bicester. We sent a rapid response vehicle and an ambulance team, but unfortunately, a patient died on the scene, "said the ambulance service in a statement to CNN.
Born in London, Cognito began acting comedy in 1985. He was described as "the most banned" comic in Britain because of his racy material. In 1999, he won the Time Out Award for stand-up comedy. Comic strips paid tribute to social media, including "Eight in Ten Cats" presenter, Jimmy Carr, who wrote, "I'll never forget his kindness when I started …"
Jack Whitehall, who recently hosted the Brit Awards, also wrote on Twitter, "I made fun of him when I started and he was still so much fun, had his own mythology on the circuit, his feats were legendary."