Fans thought stage death was ‘part of act’
A British stand-up comedian, Ian Cognito, died suddenly during a Thursday evening performance in England - but audience members thought it was part of his act as they continued to laugh.
Medics were called to a club in Bicester, southern England on Thursday night and one patient died at the scene, South Central Ambulance Service said.
Police said the death was not suspicious.
Show organiser Andrew Bird told the BBC that when Cognito, 60, sat down and fell silent, "everyone in the crowd, me included, thought he was joking".
Fellow comedians confirmed the news on social media and have taken to Twitter to pay tribute to Cognito, including Jimmy Carr.
Cognito, 60, was in the middle of his performance when he went to sit down, the BBC.
He then reportedly "laid back for five minutes" during the show and audience members thought it was part of his act as they continued to laugh.
"We came out feeling really sick. We just sat there for five minutes watching him, laughing at him," audience member John Ostojak told the BBC.
When it was evident that it wasn't part of the act, staff member called an ambulance as other employees performed CPR.
Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, was well-respected in the comedy world, and has been performing stand up since the mid-80s, according to the BBC.
Little Britain star Matt Lucas also paid tribute to Cognito. "He was always kind to me when I started out, and brilliant and provocative and entirely original onstage. What a loss," he tweeted.