Jimmy Carr and Katy Brand among those to pay public respect to ‘fearless’ comic who fell suddenly ill during Bicester gig
Tributes have been paid to the anarchic comedian Ian Cognito, who died on stage during a gig on Thursday night. The cult standup was performing at the Lone Wolf Comedy Club night at the Atic bar in Bicester when he fell ill and took a seat. Some members of the audience reportedly thought that it was part of the act but paramedics were called to the venue and he was pronounced dead.
Katy Brand was among those to pay homage to Cognito, a Time Out comedy award-winner who was known as “Cogs” on the circuit. “I hung with him a good few times in the past,” she said. “He was always fascinating and hilarious company. RIP Cogs.” Paul Sinha said he had “deeply envied” Cognito’s fearlessness, calling him “a gentleman – a terrifying gentleman”. Luisa Omielan said he was “as epic as his reputation. Rebellious and brilliant.”
Cognito once claimed he had been banned from more clubs than any comedian in the country. He was known for taking the stage with a hammer, banging a nail into the wall and then hanging up his hat. “This lets you know two things about me,” he would shout. “Firstly, I really don’t give a shit. Secondly, I’ve got a hammer.”
Cognito was born Paul Barbieri in 1958. Despite the admiration of his peers, he did not achieve mainstream success with his often furious routines. “I’m not really built for that commercial type of thing,” he told the Guardian in 2002. He published a memoir, A Comedian’s Tale, in which he described his onstage character as his “Mr Hyde”. He also released an album of standup and songs entitled Sex and Death.
Fellow comedians commented on Cognito’s generosity. Matt Lucas said he “was always kind to me when I started out” and that he was “brilliant and provocative” on stage.
Jimmy Carr tweeted: “Veteran standup 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 and how god damn funny he was.”