Ian Cognito: Trouble with Comedy
An hour trapped in a room with Ian Cognito is something you won’t forget. He’s probably the most talented stand-up that you’ve never heard of, despite being a regular on the scene for over fifteen years. Pretty apt given his name.
Congnito isn’t a nice bloke, and he makes no apologies for it, more unpredictable pitbull than affable stand-up. Barking at the audience as he takes the stage, he commands our attention, and we daren’t breathe too loudly for fear of his vitriolic retaliation. And it’s no act; it’s pretty obvious that this is Ian being Ian and that’s exciting. Captivating in the same unspoken way a natural disaster or a car crash is; you can’t look away.
Using the hour entirely for his own benefit, he snarls his way through a tortured confessional, spitting about why he’s been ignored for so long. It’s flecked with clever songs and an unrelenting wave of perhaps the funniest jokes you’re likely to hear at the Fringe. It’s close to the bone humour; it shocks, it disgusts and evokes a violent brand of laughter from the your darker side.
He’s a far cry from the usual household names, and it’s a travesty that prime-time telly is gorging the public on a glut of safe humour rather than pioneering something radically different. The Mary Whitehouse brigade would probably crap their billowy pants, but that’s exactly what comedy should do. It should divide. It should get people talking, and that’s exactly what this show does. Go and see for yourself. [Vonny Moyes]