BBC- The comic is said to have “sat on a chair and laid back for five minutes” during his show at the The Atic bar in Bicester on Thursday.
Audience members told the BBC they thought his silence was “part of the act” and had continued to laugh, unaware he had fallen ill.
South Central Ambulance Service confirmed Cognito was pronounced dead at the scene.
John Ostojak attended the gig at the Lone Wolf Comedy Club with a friend, and said the comic “did a really good set”.
“Only 10 minutes before he sat down he joked about having a stroke,” Mr Ostojak said.
“He said, ‘imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh’.”
When Cognito sat down towards the end of his set, Mr Ostojak said: “We thought it was part of the act.
“We came out feeling really sick, we just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him.”
The compere eventually approached the stage, and got someone to call an ambulance.
Staff attempted to perform chest compressions and asked the audience to leave while they waited for help to arrive.
This is absurd. Five minutes on stage, sitting in a chair in complete silence, and nobody thought something was wrong? Even at the most alt-alt comedy show, you’d have to ask some questions. I’d never heard of Ian Cognito before today, so I won’t pretend to be a fan. But from what I’ve read, it sounds like he was a comic’s comic, respected on the British comedy scene. The sort of guy who refused to curtail his act for the sake of getting TV work. It sounds like it was super fun to see him live, so I’ll just offer my condolences to all those who knew him and loved his work.
But good lord… five minutes of silence? Silence during a comedy show ages in dog years, and I’m not talking labradoodle years. More like basset hound years. Ten SECONDS of silence is a fucking eternity. FIVE MINUTES?!?!? My skin crawls. If you’re a romantic, you might say “at least he died doing what he loved.” But it sounds like Ian Cognito loved telling jokes and tearing audiences apart. That’s a far cry from sitting in a chair, quiet, as a couple people giggle in confusion. And don’t even think about making some horrifically shitty “HE MUST HAVE KILLED” joke. You’re above that.
Anyway. Goodnight, Ian Cognito. It sounds like the comedy world lost a good one.