|Birth name||Paul John Barbieri|
|Born||21 November 1958|
|Died||11 April 2019 (aged 60)|
|Education||University of Bath|
Paul John Barbieri (21 November 1958 – 11 April 2019), known professionally as Ian Cognito, was an English stand-up comedian. An iconoclastic performer, Cognito had been compared to Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, and Jerry Sadowitz but never achieved success in the mainstream media, in part at least due to his reputation for being short-tempered. He won the Time Out Award for Stand-up Comedy in 1999.
He was born in London of Irish and Italian ancestry, and likened arriving at his stage name to Dr Jekyll creating Mr Hyde. He first performed stand-up comedy in 1985, and by 2008 was described as Britain's "most banned" comic. Cognito played with audience's sensibilities, as when winning cheers with an emotive speech against domestic violence and then puncturing it with a lengthy dance to Darius Danesh's hit "Rushes" in his crotchless lime harlequin costume. Part of his act involved bringing a hammer on stage, banging a nail into a wall and hanging a hat off it, following it with the lines, "This lets you know two things about me [...] firstly, I really don't give a shit. Secondly, I've got a hammer". He was the father of British actor Ollie Barbieri (born 1991), who performed as Jonah Jeremiah "JJ" Jones in the British teen drama Skins (2009).
In his autobiography, A Comedian’s Tale, he wrote:
I was always pushing the envelope. I regret the dangerous ones and tried not to be too shocking (because that is easy to do). If I did shock, there was always a reason for what I did, even if it was taking my knob out. I was building a contradictory reputation as a dodgement and a great compere. If I was booked, the promoter could no longer plead ignorance. I was sometimes stepping over the line, if not during the show, then afterwards. In fact, I was getting away with murder. Good job I was funny.
His autobiography was originally published on his website in 1995, and appeared on Kindle in 2013, billed as "the best book about comedy I have ever writ". He claimed he had been banned from the most comedy clubs in the country, and to have thrown a television set out of a hotel window "because room service was late".
On 11 April 2019, Cognito suffered a heart attack and collapsed on stage during a comedy show in Bicester. This was initially thought by the audience to be a part of the act, until emergency services were called in. The audience was evacuated and he was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. He was praised for his work by fellow comedians Jimmy Carr, Matt Lucas, and Katy Brand.
- "Here comes trouble". Fest Magazine. 22 July 2013.
- "Comedian Ian Cognito dies onstage – and the audience think it's part of his act". The Daily Telegraph. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
- "Funny ha ha". The Scotsman. 17 March 2008.
- "Beyond Compere". The Guardian. 12 November 2002.
- "Comedians pay tribute to Ian Cognito after standup dies on stage". The Guardian. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
- "'Shit, fan; fan, shit... let's see what happens' : Features 2013 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
- ""Ian Cognito Dies"". beyondthejoke.co.uk. 12 April 2019.
- ""Ian Cognito: Comedian dies on-stage in Bicester"". BBC. 12 April 2019.