LaShonda Was Here

April 14, 2017

Words by David Thomas

I don’t know how to write this piece. All I know is that it sucks. LaShon­da Lester passed away last week and it’s heart­break­ing. It’s heart­break­ing for her hus­band, her son and every­one who was close enough to call her Shondee.”

And though they’ll nev­er know, it sucks for the rest of the coun­try. Two weeks before she would have undoubt­ed­ly set the world on fire on her first Com­e­dy Cen­tral spe­cial, she lost a fight with kid­ney dis­ease. It ain’t fair. I don’t know why peo­ple like LaShon­da — these bril­liant flash­es of light — the ones who catch us and leave us stunned — are only des­tined to be on earth for to short a time.

She was fun­ny and gen­uine and left noth­ing on the table. Yet, on stage, she almost came off as naïve. Like, Oops… how did I end up in the Rio Grande Val­ley doing com­e­dy in front of car­tel mem­bers?” Now how did I end up at a seedy hotel talk­ing to a madam who’s buck-ass naked? Who knows, but let’s see where this goes.” Those bits and sto­ries helped her earn the title of 2016 Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin. They were great. I’ll miss them, and the cool chick who lived them.

(Source: Austin Chron­i­cle)

I type this through bleary eyes, and I only knew her casu­al­ly. I can’t begin to imag­ine the sad­ness of her loved ones and friends. Our col­lec­tive hearts here at Com­e­dy Wham go out to all of you. Comedian/​rapper/​sketch writer, Kat Ramzin­s­ki, was close friends with LaShon­da and she has many great sto­ries about the Kit­ten from Mur­der Mit­ten. Here’s an abridged one:

This is one of my favorites. (I know it’s long, I type how I talk…way too much info and back­sto­ry but fuck it, it’s my sto­ry and I talk a shit­load, so my bad, just hear me out.) First, you need to know what Mark­ing out” means. If you are a wrestling fan, skip this part, you get it. If you are not a fan of pro-wrestling, that’s okay. Mark­ing out* sim­ply means being a fan…but like a super fan. Why do they call it a Mark”? I don’t know. Prob­a­bly cuz some ding dong named Mark who got too excit­ed at the Under­tak­er. I should find out actually. So why is this impor­tant? I was a Mark for my friend Lashon­da. And no, this isn’t a metaphor, because if you did­n’t know this about Shon­da, brace your­self… Your girl used to work in pro­fes­sion­al wrestling. Oh yeah, and while that might not seem like a big deal to some folks, I remem­ber the first time I men­tioned the name Bub­ba Ray Dud­ley (of the infa­mous Dud­ley Boys, cir­ca ECW/WWE-present). Her response, I knew him. He had a big ass crush on me.” WHAT. WAIT. WHAT???? Oh yeah, and she was­n’t havin’ it appar­ent­ly. When I asked her if she ever had any inter­est in going to Dud­leyville” she respond­ed with a big fat, Yeah right, he wish­es.” She then went on to tell me what she knew as she name dropped Paul Hey­man, Beaulah Mag­illi­cut­ti, and Tom­my Dream­er, all quite syn­ony­mous with ECW hard­core wrestling super­stars. At at the time, it was still a local, albeit mas­sive, pro­mo­tion at the Philly Bin­go Halls and NYC/​Detroit wrestling cir­cuit. Lashon­da her­self, knew all of these wrestlers and per­form­ers that I grew up obsessed with. She knew them per­son­al­ly. They had crush­es on her. I harassed her about this CON­STANT­LY. Some­times I intro­duced her at shows as Miss Elec­tric­i­ty… she hat­ed it, lol! She was kind of weird about talk­ing about her wrestling back­ground, because of all the Shady Shit” that went on in the pro-wrestling cir­cuit — how cor­rupt it could get in a world where peo­ple actu­al­ly made each oth­er bleed. It was hard­core. Back then there was no wom­en’s rev­o­lu­tion, and behind the scenes she said it got kind of sad to see. She nev­er had a desire to delve any deep­er than a few valet runs and some dirt sheet com­man­deer­ing. Shondee liked talk­ing about fond mem­o­ries, not the bum­mer stuff, which seemed to over­whelm that scene. She said her favorite parts of it all were going to shows with her homie Tony at the clas­sic ECW venues. She did­n’t real­ly ever have much to say beyond that as far as juicy deets on the busi­ness go. Some­times she would crack and give me a good nugget of old-school gos­sip that would get me all marked out all over the place. She nev­er thought it was that big of a deal. As far as I was con­cerned, she was my Miss Eliz­a­beth Turnt UP! First, you need to know that she was a valet for a duo called the Cold Broth­ers who wres­tled out of the ICW pro­mo­tion in the Detroit/​Canadian ter­ri­to­ries, and act­ed as a fill in valet, last minute. When they need­ed a badass to take them to the ring and get the crowd pumped, Shondee was there to help. A valet, is like a hype man or man­ag­er for the wrestlers. Her team com­prised of two beef­cakes that went by Ice Cold” and Stone Cold”, not the Texas Rat­tlesnake, but a Kazarian/​Christopher Daniels type of duo that worked the indie cir­cuit in the Detroit and Cana­di­an ter­ri­to­ries well into the ear­ly 2000’s, before the atti­tude era took hold of the beloved Stone Cold* moniker. God, that’s so cool to me. She also ran a wrestling hot­line aka, Dirt sheet”, where she kept in-depth and up-to-date info on the match­es that came through var­i­ous ter­ri­to­ries. Spoil­ers, because back in the nineties, unless you were there live, you weren’t going to find out shit about a show until it aired on TV, or you bought the tapes lat­er when they came out. When I found this out, she went from my Miss Eliz­a­beth to the lady Meltzer of the D in my eyes. She was not just a valet, she was the guy behind the guy now as far as I was con­cerned. Shondee knew who won, how they won, and who was injured before the rest of the wrestling fans. Her job was to make sure she got that info out. That made her a fix­ture in the wrestling com­mu­ni­ty for a cou­ple of years, and because of this she met peo­ple like Sex­ton Hard­cas­tle (Who you may now know as Edge, the Rat­ed R Super­star.) She reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed wrestling shows in the peak of the ECW hard­core era. This infor­ma­tion was like a drug to me, and I was beg­ging for more — like a damn Mark. One day, she drops by to bring me corned beef, which she for­got thank good­ness because I have no idea how to cook corned beef, and I hap­pened to be watch­ing ECW. (I planned this so that it would force her to tell me wrestling sto­ries because I’m evil and sneaky). She sits down and says, How the hell you watchin’ this???” I tell her we have the WWE Net­work. She scrolls through and says, Vince Macma­hon got his own Youtube now??? DAMN! WAIT. Is this old ECW??” Yup”. (At this point I’m a pig in shit I’m so hap­py she is tak­ing the bait.) I think I’m in some of these crowds, is this the nineties??” Yup…do you want to see? I bet we can find you?” I ask. She says yes, but we have to find a spe­cif­ic event. She is wear­ing a lime green jump­suit and was pret­ty tip­sy that day, she explains. She should be some­where in front she says. She also said she had sun­glass­es on for at least half of it, and know for sure she fell asleep at some point. A Fat ass dude who was scary” won the head­lin­ing match of the night she said. Those were our clues. It was some­time between 95 and 2000 she said. No prob­lem, I can work with that. After two hours of scrolling through, watch­ing Shane Dou­glas, Sand­man’s drunk ass, and Sabu bru­tal­iz­ing his body, we spot Bam Bam Bigelow. She stops me. There. THEREAM!!!!! OH MY GOD GIRL!!!! LOOK AT ME!!!”
(Source: Kat Ramzinski)
She points to the screen, and I laugh so hard. There she is, sit­ting right there with her bud­dy Tony as Bam Bam Bigelow destroys his oppo­nent for a title shot, with a crowd going absolute­ly insane at a his­toric hard­core matchup. It’s Shondee. Sit­ting in a lime green jump­suit. Pos­si­bly asleep. At one point lat­er in the match she is wear­ing sun­glass­es indoors with a big ass cup, look­ing com­plete­ly una­mused, as peo­ple con­tin­ue to freak out around her. You can spot her pret­ty well con­sid­er­ing this was a 1997 Novem­ber to Remem­ber PPV we are watch­ing. The match in ques­tion is actu­al­ly a flash­back to a pre­vi­ous match, where Bam Bam took the title, as Lashon­da sat, in her green jumpsuit.”

Sto­ries like this is what peo­ple will remem­ber about LaShon­da Lester. I’m sure in time, the com­e­dy scene will laugh again. In the mean time, there’s work to be done. LaShon­da leaves behind a hard work­ing hus­band, Dana, and a son, Alex. Katie Pen­gra has start­ed a Go Fund Me cam­paign to help Dana find and fund child­care and oth­er needs for Alex. Click the link below to donate. I am sure that a ben­e­fit is in the works as well. We’ll keep you updated.

(Source: Do512)


Alex’s Go Fund Me LaShon­da Lester’s Com­e­dy Wham Interview