Audience thought comedian Ian Cognito’s on-stage death was ‘part of the act’

Audience members who watched stand-up comedian Ian Cognito suffer a fatal heart attack on stage have admitted they laughed along thinking it was 'part of the act'.

John Ostojak described how the funnyman "sat on a chair and laid back for five minutes" at the end of his set at The Atic bar in Bicester last night.

Just 10 minutes earlier he'd joked about having a stroke, quipping, "Imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh.'"

And John Ostojak, who was at the Lone Wolf Comedy Club with a friend, told the BBC everyone believed that when Cognito took a seat at the end of the show and fell silent, it was a joke.

"We thought it was part of the act," he told the BBC .

"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 an ambulance was called at 10.20pm. Audience members were asked to leave as staff gave chest compressions in a fruitless bid to revive him.

Reports say he had been taking medication for a heart condition.

Comics rushed to pay tribute to the "lovable lunatic", who was affectionately known as Cogs. Hailing from Walthamstow, the comic's age is unknown.

Comedian Jimmy Carr said, "Died with his boots on. That's commitment to comedy. I'll never forget his kindness when I started out and how god damn funny he was."

TV panelist Mark Steel shared his memories of a "difficult awkward hilarious troubled sort; a proper comic."

And I'm A Celebrity star Shappi Khorsandi said she was in shock over the news.

"One of the people who made this job brilliant from the very beginning has gone. I got so excited to be on bills with him and watch him work and have a beer after. And those eyes! Those beautiful eyes. Much love to all friends and family xx"

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