'He ended the night in fishnets and no pants...' | Comedians remember the outrageous behaviour of Ian Cognito

'He ended the night in fishnets and no pants...'

Comedians remember the outrageous behaviour of Ian Cognito

Social media has been alight with stories about the mercurial Ian Cognito, since news broke that he died on stage in Bicester last night, with the audience apparently thinking his collapse was part of the act. Here are some of our favourites shared by fellow comedians:


Barry Castagnola

First time I met Ian Cognito, we had a fight. Well, sort of. Earlier in the evening, we’d both performed at Newcastle Hyena. He walked on stage, took a hammer and nail out of his jacket pocket, walked to the side, banged the nail in the wall, took his jacket off and hung it up. It was the coolest opening I’ve ever seen. 

Later, we were both drunk in the hotel bar, he turned on me and things got a bit heated. He tried to karate kick me, missed and ended up on the floor. I suggested we went outside. We took our coats off, went outside and pushed and shoved each other for a bit until it petered out. I told him I was leaving, went back in grabbed my coat and screamed obscenities at him as I left. Then realised I’d put his coat on. I angrily swapped coats and left again (didn’t have so much impact). 

When I returned, I found him asleep, standing up outside his room with the key on the floor. I put him into his bed and went up to my room. 

I woke to his call in the morning and, as I answered, he said cheerily, ‘Right, I’m pretty sure I was a cunt last night. Not sure what I did but let me buy you breakfast to apologise’. Hung out with him all weekend and many times since over the years. Going to miss that cheeky smile. The comedy world has lost a legend.

Bethany Black

He once stayed over at mine and when we woke up in the morning he was gone. It was a second floor flat and the front door was deadbolted. I asked him how he said he had no recollection. 

Ian Stone

First time I worked with Cogs, it was in a student union where they’d staged a sit in. The gig looked unplayable and I struggled through it. Cogs went on and blew them away. I sort of wanted to be him for a short while after that. Then me, him and Simon Bligh went to the south of France and one evening he tried to get me to go to bed with him and when I said no, he attacked me.

 The evening ended with him dancing on a balcony wearing a dress, fishnet stockings and no pants. The view from the dance floor was an eye opener..

The last time I spent an evening with him, me and Pierre Hollins went to visit him on his houseboat. We left at seven in the morning. It was one of the best nights of my life. He was a good soul and a funny bastard. I’ll miss him. RIP Cogs x

Pierre Hollins

One of my favourite Cognito moments: Glee Cardiff - he picks an argument with a big bloke in the front row, for no good reason, and he pushes it until the bloke walks towards the stage to punch his lights out -  so Cognito nimbly sidesteps the attack, dives into the audience and starts snogging the big bloke's girlfriend - seamlessly turning the incident from GBH to a literal standing ovation, It was amazing - even though the audience knew Cognito had started it, they all rose to their feet and cheered.  Then he climbed back on stage and finished his set. Rest in peace brother.

Andre Vincent

Remember the fucker got us all banned from every hotel in Broad Street [in Birmingham] for throwing televisions out the window. 

James Acaster

I’d heard so many stories before I met him. I got to a gig and the promoter said ‘Ian’s here & is in the dressing room.’ I didn’t know which Ian he meant, opened the door and a man was pissing in the sink and smiling at me. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I think this is Ian Cognito.

Darrell Martin, promoter of Just The Tonic

I first met Cogs at Just the Tonic in the mid 90’s. I was a new promoter and had been warned of this hard drinking outrageous character that had been banned from so many clubs. When he turned up he took to the stage in a large white Byronesque type shirt and totally and utterly stormed the gig. It was like watching a theatrical performance. Afterwards we all stayed up chatting and drinking and I had absolutely no idea what people were warning me about. He was a fun bloke to be with, he genuinely loved doing stand up. it was always a pleasure to book him, and if he turned up and thought there was a young gun trying to usurp his rebellion tag, he would up his game to make his mark. Always reliable, always dependable, always funny.

Published: 12 Apr 2019

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