British comedian Ian Cognito died during his stand-up show on Thursday in Bicester, England.
Andrew Bird, the owner of the venue Lonely Wolf Comedy Club told the media that Cognito wasn’t feeling well before his gig but decided to perform anyway. “He was like his old self, his voice was loud. I was thinking ‘he’s having such a good gig’,” Bird recounted.
Cognito reportedly even joked about dying in front of the audience, so when he collapsed people thought it was part of his act. “Everyone in the crowd, me included, thought he was joking,” Bird said.
Bird went onstage to check on Cognito and when it was apparent the comic wasn’t faking it, two off-duty nurses and a police officer began CPR and an ambulance was called.
Ryan Mold, who was at the venue during the performance, told CNN that Cognito was on stage and “around halfway through his set” when he passed away.
“He sat down, put his head and arms back; his shoulders were twitching,” he said. Mold said 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 “didn’t seem unusual” to the audience to start with.
Mold said fellow comedians realized something wasn’t right after a few minutes and ran onto the stage to offer help. They called for an ambulance, and a paramedic in the crowd began performing CPR while the audience was removed from the hall.