Lashonda Lester, Austin's funniest person of 2016 has died, according to a Facebook post from Cap City Comedy Club Thursday.
Although a cause of death has not been released, she was previously diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2015. Back in October, KVUE's Quita Culpepper spoke with Lester about her health problems. In order to help with her skyrocketing medical bills, other Austin comedians held a "Just Kidneying" benefit to help her out.
Matt Bearden, a friend and fellow comedian, learned of the news while on-air with the "Dudley and Bob with Matt" radio show Thursday morning.
"There is nothing about this morning that didn't come as a complete and total shock to everyone," said Bearden.
In memory of Lester, Bearden hosted a gathering of comedians at his home - where they shared memories of their late friend.
"She was legitimately the most honest comic you'll ever see. And that's not something you can steal from a comic. And that's not something you can crib or try to pretend to be them. Nobody could be Lashonda... only Lashonda could be Lashonda," said Bearden.
The Paramount Theater honored Lester with a condolence on their marquee.
"I was in a crosswalk crossing Congress. I saw that marquee this morning and it just really took the wind out of me," Bearden said.
Lester was just beginning to book higher-profile gigs.
Last week, she opened for Marc Maron in Austin, and in two weeks she was set to film her first special for Comedy Central.
"When you look at everything that was happening for her career-wise, I think it's easy to she was right on the edge of stardom. But I can honestly say that she was on the edge of notoriety. She was already a star. And that's how we will always see her," said Bearden.
Cap City posted a photo on Facebook Thursday with a note that said, "she is and will always be our hero."
"When you walked into our club, we knew we had a show. We will miss you terribly," Cap City Comedy Club said in the post.