How Did Ian Cognito Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of The British Comedian

He was 60 years old.

How Did Ian Cognito Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of The British Comedian instagram

On April 11th, British comedian Ian Cognito was in the middle of his stand-up set when he died suddenly. During his performance at The Atic Bar in Bicester, England, he went to take a seat and then “laid back for five minutes.”

The audience thought this was part of his act and as he died, they laughed. Staff eventually realized something was wrong and called an ambulance, while other employees attempted CPR. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


According to an audience member, Cognito had joked about having a stroke right before passing out. “Imagine if I died in front of you lot here,” he said to the audience.

And Andrew Bird, the host for the evening, said the comedian hadn’t been feeling well before going on stage, though he seemed better as he started his act. “He was like his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking, ‘He’s having such a good gig,’” Bird said.

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But how did Ian Cognito die? Reports indicate that he had been taking medication for a heart condition, and passed away from a heart attack.


The comedian certainly won’t be forgotten, with support and praise pouring in from other comics, including Jimmy Carr, Katy Brand, and Jack Whitehall:

Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, had performed at clubs since the 1980s and was loved in Britain for over 30 years. He regularly appeared at Glastonbury Festival, and was known for his provocative acts and antics. He never appeared on television and was banned from many comedy clubs because of his personality.


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Cognito was also known for his years of hard drinking, and once threw a television out the window at a hotel. He’d call colleagues the next day to apologize for his behavior, not having any memory of what happened. He stopped drinking about 18 months ago.



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He would also sometimes begin a set by bringing a hammer and nail on stage, and hanging his coat on the nail. “You know two things about me: I don’t give a f***, and I’ve got a hammer,” he would say, adding that a good comedian should “always leave the audience wanting more.” Perhaps that’s why the audience at his set the night he died thought his death was just a hoax.


During his career, he released comedy albums and music and wrote a memoir called A Comedian’s Tale. In the forward of his book, he suggested he would “die on stage doing what he loves most,” and that’s exactly what happened. He was in the midst of completing a second volume of memoirs when he passed away, and leaves behind two grown sons from a previous relationship.



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Surely, his memory will live on through his comedy, jokes, and the reaction he got from fans and audience members.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.