Comedy turned to tragedy at the Lonely Wolf Comedy Club in England on Thursday.
British comedian Paul Barbieri, who went by the stage name Ian Cognito, died in the middle of his standup routine. He was 60 years of age.
Cognito, according to the club’s owner, Andrew Bird, wasn’t feeling so well before he went on stage. But the show must go on, as they say, and so he decided to perform anyway.
Not only did he perform, but he seemed to rekindle some of his youthful spirit and energy.
“He was like his old self, his voice was loud,” said Bird. “I was thinking ‘he’s having such a good gig’.”
Cognito, as part of the routine, joked about dying in front of the audience, which made what happened next rather eerie.
When a Joke Becomes Reality
According to audience member John Ostojak, only “10 minutes before he [Cognito] sat down he joked about having a stroke.”
For this reason, when Cognito collapsed on the stage, the audience thought that it was all part of the show. They laughed along with it for a moment.
“Everyone in the crowd, me included, thought he was joking,” said Bird. But, when Cognito just remained on the stage floor, reality sunk in.
Laughter was replaced by silence as Bird hurried on stage to check on Cognito. He was followed by two off-duty nurses and a police officer who started to administer CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
But it was too late. Cognito was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Died with his boots on”
If there is any consolation, it is that Cognito died doing what he loved to do, which isn’t such a bad way to go out.
As fellow comedian Jimmy Carr said in a tribute: