Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Elva’s life was an answer, never a question - One year later, Shepherd, Daley remember ‘Hero Duck’

Published:Sunday | October 6, 2019 | 12:00 AMSade Gardner - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Comedian Elva in the building.
Dufton Shepherd
Elva at the Heineken Belles Who Ball UEFA Champions League viewing event at the Regency Bar and Lounge, May 1 2018.
Elva Ruddock
Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley shows off his ‘Hero Duck’ cape during the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run. Elva was the start-line emcee for Sigma Run for many years. Johnny took over that duty this year.

“It’s E to the L to the V to the A!” – Elva Ruddock’s classic introductory line. But with her contagious laugh, liberated wit, diversified wigs, ‘house and land’ handbags, and apologetic authenticity, the comedienne did not need any introduction. Enrapturing audiences for several years as a co-host of Bascho’s infomercial with Omar Azan, a personality at Fame FM’s Full House Fridays and a former columnist, Elva, the celebrated ‘Hero Duck’, died at the Kingston Public Hospital last October after a long battle with lupus. On the eve of her one-year passing, two of her closest companions are continuing to celebrate her life, and recommend that others do the same.

“I don’t think Elva’s passing has any significance to us whatsoever. Elva’s presence wasn’t a question. her life was an answer to so many questions about life,” comedian Dufton Shepherd told The Sunday Gleaner. “Are there real people in this world? Yes. Is there somebody who will always be 100 per cent with you? Yes. Are there persons who will be there for you in every shape or form once they are still living? Yes. Are there persons who are literally on this Earth to share their light and life in a way that impacts you forever? Yes. There were no questions about Elva. Elva was just Elva. Elva is one of the realest, purest, persons I will ever know.”

Both Taureans, Shepherd could not pinpoint when or how they met but said of their connection, “We probably met in a past life.” He added that she confided in him about her ailment, and there were actually three or four instances where she was rumoured to have died before she actually did. Upon receiving a ton of notifications on October 7, 2018, he believed it to be another such instance.

“I was at a friend’s house about to drive out in the morning and persons were WhatsApping me, ‘Is it true about Elva?’,” he said, his voice growing sombre. “Elva is private, so I thought something came out that disclosed her sickness and people were asking me, and I wasn’t going to divulge any information, so I avoided them. Then Kurt Riley called me, asking if I heard about Elva. I thought he was talking about the sickness, so mi seh yes, and him seh how long mi know, and I said for a little while. After a while, I guess he picked up we weren’t talking about the same thing, and I thought it was another rumour about her passing away.”

Shepherd immediately opened his messages, which were bombarded with condolences. Then he called friend and fellow comedian Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley.

“It wasn’t going through, so I called his wife, and she said, ‘Elva passed’. I was driving and approaching a T-Junction and I went right across almost into the wall. I was numb. I cried for about a minute in the car and then after that, there were no tears,” he stated.

Undiscovered but a star

Daley, who also knew of her diagnosis, met the personality at a karaoke session she was hosting several years ago. They clicked instantly.

“She was undiscovered at the time, but she was a star,” he said. “I was very quick to let her know how awesome she was, and I felt that she needed to be out there more. She always laughed at me when I said it ‘because Elva was all about just being Elva. She was already much into her corporate success and was just a very awesome, creative being who exuded life and lived it her way – the Elva way.”

Daley recalled her obsession with the beach, her no-filter personality, and her unwavering support of her friends.

“I am so happy I met her because she was the most influential person to me. she never discouraged me,” he said. “I came up with crazy ideas, and she would laugh. I told her I would start a comedy night and I’d be doing standup comedy, and she told me, ‘ bwoy, Johnny, anything weh yuh waan do yuh can do’. She kept saying that to me, and every time I would accomplish something, she would say, ‘ you said you were gonna do it, enuh’ and she kept on saying I can do it even when others said I couldn’t. I could be my total self with her and she would give her totally honest opinion.”

While Elva will be remembered in different ways and spaces come tomorrow, Daley said she is never too far from his conversations among the theatre community.

“When it comes to Elva, we celebrate her life and the light she brought to all of us. We all miss her. every time we see each other, the conversation gets back to Elva, and we laugh about her.

“I still have her WhatsApp messages, I still have everything. Elva lives on right here with me now. she is present all the time. Every time I’m talking to myself in the car, I hear Elva talking back to me. that’s how present she is. It does not feel like a year at all.”