British comedian dies during stage performance

Crowd at the Atic bar thought it was a joke and continued to laugh, unaware something was wrong

News Desk April 12, 2019
Stand-up comedian Ian Cognito. PHOTO COURTESY: BBC

Veteran British stand-up comedian Ian Cognito died during a stage performance in Bicester town of the United Kingdom.

The 60-year-old comedian, according to a BBC report, sat down on a stool while breathing heavily, before falling silent for five minutes during his show on Thursday.

Compere Andrew Bird said the crowd at the The Atic bar thought it was a joke, and continued to laugh, unaware something was wrong.

Bird, who runs the Lone Wolf Comedy Club event at the venue, said Cognito had not been feeling well before the gig started, but insisted on going on stage.

"He was like his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking 'he's having such a good gig'," he said.

Bird said Cognito had even joked about his health during his set, telling the audience: "Imagine if I died in front of you lot here".

"Everyone in the crowd, me included, thought he was joking," he said. "Even when I walked on stage and touched his arm I was expecting him to say 'boo'."

Once it became clear something was wrong, two off-duty nurses and a police officer began chest compressions and an ambulance was called.

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'."

Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, was born in London in 1958, and had been performing since the mid-1980s.