Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Donovan, the ghetto comedian

Published:Thursday | June 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMFr Richard Ho Lung
Donovan (left), ‘the boss’, and his assistant.
Donovan (centre, in wheelchair), the king of comedy.

In the ghetto, there is so much comedy. Yesterday at Good Shepherd, after lunch, I sat with two, then three. Suddenly, there were seven of our homeless and myself sitting in a circle. Donovan, a dwarf, now 25 years with us, about 45 years old, four feet tall, sat in his wheelchair, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, charming everyone with his harmonica, playing Onward Christian Soldier. Afterwards, everyone clapped.

Donovan is a natural comedian. He thrust out his shoulders and boastfully gave a broad grin on his round face.

"Clap me again! Don't I deserve another clap?" he beseeched.

All the old men, even the mentally ill, gave him a thunderous clap.

He took a bow and began to pray with hands clasped and eyes closed, "Father in Heaven, I give thanks for my wonderful talents. No! My wonderful, 'superaladocious' talents God has given me. My shortness as a dwarf, the friends I have at Good Shepherd, the food I eat each day, the goodness of the brothers, my extraordinary intelligence, and, needless to say, my handsomeness. Though I am a dwarf, Lord, everyone finds I am cute. Thank God for my cuteness, Lord. Though I am small, I also have great authority. Thank you for the gift of authority you have given me."

Everyone began to laugh and cackle.

"I am boss around here. So just respect me while I pray to my God. Do what I tell you," he tells them.

They continued to laugh and say, "Shut up now, Donovan."

"I have a second in charge! Wayne is my second in charge. He is very intelligent. But not so intelligent as me! He will tell you your assignments after lunch. You, Lewis and Courtney, go clean the toilets. You, Tony, sweep the floor. You, Carlton, wash the clothes. And it must be very, very, very clean. God help you if you don't do your jobs properly!" he ordered.

Then, we sat around and had to pretend great respect for Donovan's authority.




"Father, since you are here, I want to announce my plans for next year," he told me.

Everyone suddenly listened attentively.

"Please tell me, Father, if this doesn't sound very intelligent to you," he said.

"I am now 45 years old. I decided to get married!"

All the residents became very interested and murmured in sounds that they alone could understand, and everyone knows - here it is again, Donovan with his stories and dreams.

"I want to get married to a young, pretty girl. Better she be pretty than ugly," he said.

Everyone agreed that that was sensible and wise.

I asked Donovan, "But what if she doesn't want to marry you?"

"Then she would be a fool, since I am so handsome and charming and wise," he declared.

Everyone clapped Donovan for his wisdom.

Some began to boo Donovan, saying, "Nobody young and pretty would even want to marry you!"

"Then if no one wants to marry me, I'll marry an old woman. But she has to be rich!" he countered.

At this point, everyone began to laugh loudly.

"But I will give all the riches of my wife to the poor of Jacob's Well!" he informed.

At this point, he had everyone in rapt silence.

Then, Donovan began to close the session with a prayer and a song, "What a friend I have in Jesus, all my sins and grief He bears."

All began to say prayers, sing hymns, and thank God for a lovely day and fellowship.

I gave thanks to God for the poor and felt that the poor are indeed rich and so full of humour!