This stand-up bill of comics who have passed grows ever longer and now reads like one of the big benefits on C4 – and this week our much loved Ian Cognito added his name to the list – and would make a good claim to close the show!
Because when Ian was on – few comics relished following him.
I first saw him at Ealing Comedy – circa 1990 – with his long hair and dazzling looks – I hadn’t started as yet and watching Ian smash the room, I probably had second thoughts about whether I should bother. Nikki was smitten and with good reason.
My abiding memory of working with Ian was at the T&C2 on Highbury Corner – surely one of the best ever gigs in London. Ian was hosting and I was opening and going on somewhere else, the Cartoon I think in Clapham.
The place was packed and in the little acts room off to the right, Ian was bouncing off the walls.
‘I’ll do 10/15’ He said to me as he was announced on-stage.
He has the room instantly – all energy, angst and flicks of the hair – the air thick with expletives, oh and massive laughs also – as I bobbed from foot to foot waiting for my turn.
15 minutes in, Ian is having the time of his life and is showing no signs of introducing the increasingly nervous first act. No grabbing for the mic stand.
20/25 in and now I am panicking. Not so much about getting to the next gig but how the hell I am I going to follow this bloody compere? Come on Ian, for fuck sake, get off you too-funny bastard.
On 40minutes – he brings me on – and I get to work.
After my set – Ian is delighted for me and still buzzing from his opening and no doubt, whatever the hell he had snorted, imbibed and drank also. As naive as I was, I would not have known this at the time.
‘Bloody hell Ian, 40 minutes?’ I said.
He smiled broadly. He was a handsome bugger. His eyes flashed at me.
‘Yeah, but Dom, you know what its like… when you’ve been kicking about all day waiting for the gig…’
This is how I will remember Ian. He just loved being on stage. It was where he came alive and so fitting then that it was on stage that he left us – and even with the comic timing to finish his set.
He had his troubles as we all know.
But he was much loved and much admired and when he was on – he emptied dressing rooms and this is high praise indeed.