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We recently lost Tristan Devin, a gifted comedian and friend.
Along with Kevin Hyder, he ran the People’s Republic of Komedy, both the cafe and the twice monthly comedy showcase Laff Hole at Chop Suey. Along with standup, Tristan had also been involved in improv and sketch comedy.
I met Tristan about a year ago when I signed up for the Kafe’s open mic. I found him to be handsome, sweet and gracious. I saw him perform that night, and I was instantly smitten. He was hilarious and so different from the other funny comics in town. His delivery and style were unique, his theater training apparent with his use of voice and character-work. My personal favorite was Bathtub – the new Capitol Hill resident with low blood sugar, who was eager to make friends, but had a way of coming off in a slightly creepy way. (You could listen to Bathtub along with other characters on Tristan’s podcast, Seattle Community Forum.)
As I got to know Tristan better, I found him to be a kindred spirit–while my crush was still there, I came to value the start of our friendship more. We basically saw life in the same absurd way, finding the humor in extremely unlikely places. Like with so many other comics, it was our way of dealing with pain.
I went to his memorial this last Tuesday at People’s Republic Kafe, also known as Scratch Deli, and found myself enveloped by comedians and friends showing immense sadness and love for Tristan. Among them was one of his idols, Almost Live‘s John Keister. Tristan had mentioned in many interviews that, growing up in the Seattle area, he had loved and been inspired by the show which helped him develop his style of comedy.
Keister also hosted Laff Hole this week, which served as a fundraiser for Tristan’s official memorial, where he gave a lovely speech about what Tristan meant to him. Keister revealed that he had been feeling a bit lost in the years after Almost Live ended. One day while on Capitol Hill, he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Tristan, who explained to Keister that he really admired him and would love to have him headline the coming Laff Hole.
It was Keister’s first time on stage in a long while, and he wasn’t sure if he still had his comedy chops. The show went very well, and afterwards Keister thanked Tristan for “giving him his voice back.”
I hope Tristan understood at that moment how much he meant to John, and to the rest of us.