RIP Ian Cognito

Ian’s gone. he died on stage on Thursday night. i knew him to an extent. when  i started out in the late 80’s he was one of the friendliest guys you could meet, a real tonic for a nervous newcomer.


Cognito was a brilliant performer. I mean, literally, his stage skills were awesome. He could command the biggest venues with his charm and dramatic moves. He knew when to fill the stage, he also knew when to stay stock-still. Whatever he did the audience’s eyes were just glued to him. Physically he was not a tall man, but some instinct in him, some natural ability – or honed ability- made him bigger than life.

I don’t know if he ever went to drama school – I doubt it – but when it came to stage work he certainly had a genius.

In the light of his sudden passing, tributes and clips of his past shows proliferate on the web. Some of them come as a revelation…gems hidden away.

But, also, it’s sobering to hear some of his material…He was a genial bloke offstage, and that geniality while present onstage, is often punctured by the rants – is that really the same sweet guy?? – He often made it clear , in his ‘act’, what it was he didn’t like, and then proceeded to take the piss out of it. And that’s what Cognito the comic is remembered most for: the rant; the wild man; the breaking of rules….the Italian and Irish mix making for a benign dictator of satire.

But, irreverence apart,  he also had some great gags, with a smattering of surreal thrown in.

He boasted that he’d never been on telly. From what I knew of him I got the impression that he had some reticence, some insecurity, possibly, when it came to the media, to the BBC, to TV generally. I recall doing a radio chat thing with him in a small BBC radio station in Oxford, to plug some gig. He never gave the DJ one sensible answer, just bellowed through the entire interview. But he was probably right to be cynical.

I had him booked in for my end of May gig in Swansea. I think i will struggle to find a worthy replacement for such a charismatic comedian. Bugger