British Comedian Ian Cognito Dies Onstage During Stand-Up Show: 'A True Maverick'

A stand-up comedian died onstage during a performance Thursday evening.

Ian Cognito, a British comic, fell ill during his stand-up set at the Atic bar in the English town of Bicester, 14 miles north of Oxford, according to CNN.

The venue’s owner, Ryan Mold, told the outlet that paramedics were called to the venue just after 10 p.m. and Cognito was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to BBC News, Cognito, who was 60, sat down on a stool while breathing heavily before falling silent for five minutes during his show.

Mold, who was at the venue during the performance, told CNN that Cognito was “around halfway through his set” when he suddenly “sat down [and] put his head and arms back.”

“His shoulders were twitching,” said Mold, who added that the “audience thought it was part of his set,” as Cognito had spoken about having a heart attack or a stroke only a few minutes earlier.

He added that Cognito had a “flamboyant character on stage,” so his actions initially “didn’t seem unusual” to the audience.

Mold said Cognito’s fellow comedians realized something wasn’t right after a few minutes and called for an ambulance. A paramedic in the crowd began performing CPR while the audience was removed from the hall.

“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 said in a statement to CNN.

Audience member John Ostojak told BBC News that Cognito they came out of the show “feeling really sick.”

“We just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him,” he said.

Fellow comedian and 8 Out of 10 Cats star Jimmy Carr paid tribute to Cognito on Twitter.

“Veteran stand-up comedian Ian Cognito has died on-stage — literally,” he said. “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.”

Jack Whitehall also shared his memories of the late comic on Twitter.

“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,” he wrote. “A true maverick. Hope he’s found somewhere to hang his coat in heaven.”

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

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