When your whole professional life is a gag, then that’s what people expect from you while on stage. So, when something shocking and unexpected happens, it’s likely that an audience will not take it seriously.
That’s exactly what happened to one veteran comedian when he made an unexpected move in the middle of his comedy set. But it was NOT a joke, and it ended costing him his life.
Ian Cognito, a veteran stand-up comic in the UK fell ill while he was performing at the Atic Bar in Bicester, England. When he sat down in the midst of his attack, the audience continued in the mood of the show, laughing, thinking it was all part of the act.
“Compere, Andrew Bird said the crowd at The Atic bar in Bicester had thought it was a joke, and continued to laugh, unaware something was wrong.”
It ended up being a full-fledged heart attack.
According to the BBC, “The 60-year-old comic sat down on a stool while breathing heavily, before falling silent for five minutes during his show on Thursday.”
Once people realized it was for real, paramedics were called, but it was too late. After working to revive the 60-year-old, Cognito was pronounced dead even before making it to the hospital.
Bird said that Cognito mentioned he wasn’t feeling well before he even began his show, and even made a joke about it earlier in the set, telling the audience, "Imagine if I died in front of you lot here.”
When Bird went to check on the “ill” comic, he wasn’t expecting what he found.
"Even when I walked on stage and touched his arm I was expecting him to say 'boo'."
Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, was born in London in 1958 and had been performing to packed clubs since the mid-1980s.
Fans and fellow comedians, alike, took to social media to not only express their shock and sorrow but to pay tribute to the man they call, “a proper comic.”.
“Such a sad shock. Ian Cognito has died. One of the people who made this job brilliant from the very beginning has gone. I got so excited to be on bills with him and watch him work and have a beer after. And those eyes! Those beautiful eyes. Much love to all friends and family xx”
“Oh bless that Ian Cognito, who expired in his natural home last night, on stage. He was a difficult awkward hilarious troubled brilliant sort; a proper comic.”
“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”
“I'm so very sad to hear about the death of my old mate Ian Cognito. A true legend of the comedy circuit, a total one off, nothing would have pleased him more though than actually dying on stage the way he did. If there is a heaven he's probably already been asked to leave.’
“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.”
Rest in peace, 'Cogs.' you will be missed.