Non-stop laughter is what you can expect if you visit the Instagram page @prnc_charming, it is the Instagram account of rising internet sensation Stephen Francis. A New York native, Stephen has been posting short fifteen second comedy clips on his Instagram account since September of 2014. His comedy sketches are usually parodies of West Indian culture which many, especially West Indians within the diaspora can relate to. He has a growing list of fans and his social media reach is expanding with each new post. I wanted to take sometime to focus on the man behind the comedy, his motivations, and where he hopes to take his talent.
Stephen did not enter the field of InstaComedy by chance, he received encouragement from a few friends with whom he shared the idea. He was hesitant at first as he was unsure how his venture into the land of comedy would be received. One can immediately understand his apprehension as the internet usually has the most vile critics. Stephen eventually shrugged off his apprehension and posted what his first Instagram comedy sketch on September 28, 2014. Within hours of posting he began to receive likes and comments from people that went beyond his social group. He was immediately amazed by what appeared to be an overwhelmingly positive endorsement by complete strangers. The endorsement solidified the fact that Instagram would indeed be a platform through which he could become creative in making additional comedy sketches.
Majority of his skits incorporate aspects of West Indian life to which Stephen acknowledged he was exposed to due to his upbringing in Queens, New York. Rather than choosing one particular sub-set of West Indian life, Stephen has aimed to look at it in its entirety. Queens being the melting pot of cultures and a gateway into the lives of a diverse group of people. In addition, he spent 8 years living in South Florida, home to a large concentration of caribbean nationals. Consequently, Stephen grew up with an appreciation of all things Caribbean, the way of life, the food, the language, and most of all, the music. A quick look at his Instagram page will reveal that many of his videos revolve around a central figure, the Caribbean mother, the matriarch that everyone can relate to, and in many cases the unsung hero of West Indian culture. I became aware of Stephen after my sister tagged me in one of his posts referencing Caribbean mothers. It is that reliability which I believe attracts many of his followers. Through his sketches people within the diaspora can relive memories of their days growing up under the influence of a Caribbean mother.
It is therefore no surprise at the fact that one of the most influential individuals in Stephen’s life is his mother (Vilma Sharma) who is at times featured in his comedy sketches. Stephen acknowledges that he and his mom have been through a lot together and so naturally they are very close. Vilma raised Stephen as a single mother having to work two jobs in order to provide for her family. It was his mother’s long held conviction that her son was destined for greatness that contributed to his own sense of limitless possibilities. She has been his foundational support throughout his life. Being of Trinidadian decent, Vilma has been the inspiration for many of her son’s parodies .
Although a natural comedian, Stephen has not lost sight of the opportunity to inspire others not only through comedy, but also through encouragement. On several occasions he has utilized his Instagram page to post inspirational messages aimed at a wide cross section of individuals. One story of inspiration he has shared is related to his own struggles with obesity. As a teenager Stephen was referred to as “Rolly Polly” due to his ballooning weight at the time. At his heaviest, Stephen tipped the scale at 295 by the age of seventeen when he realized how much of a negative effect it was having on his overall health. Determined to gain self-confidence and the wish to live a better quantity and guilty of life, he committed himself to a weight loss regiment which included diet and exercise. Within a year of giving up some of his most beloved food, and countless of hours spent in the gym, Stephen was able to lose approximately 125 pounds. The most difficult aspect of his weight loss journey was the start. The first month was particularly arduous as he placed his body through routines it had never been through before, as well as fighting off the temptation to have foods that would sabotage his diet. With time and the reward of seeing his handwork pay off, the determination to lose weight became stronger, and his willpower increased as a result. Today Stephen remains a living example of what it means to stay committed to your goals, no matter how difficult ascertaining your goals may seem to be; with handwork and determination, you will accomplish them.
In the future Stephen hopes his career will lead to opening other doors where he can continue to expand his reach through social media. In a world that at times can seem so negative, Stephen is committed to bringing laughter to those who need it most. For many, fifteen seconds may sound minuscule, but to that one person who have lost a reason to smile, fifteen seconds can provide a well needed escape from the harsh realities of our everyday world. There is no denying that Stephen will continue to charm his way into the lives of others, making a positive impact through comedy. His name suggests it all, Prince Charming. When asked about his selected screen name Stephen indicated that it exemplifies his belief. He firmly believes that each person should still strive to be the change they hope to be in this world. Consequently, he is committed to charming his way into the lives of others through respect, courteousness, and by exemplifying what it means to be a gentleman, especially to the most integral female figures in his life.
The best of Prnc_Charming is yet to come, he is currently in the process of rolling out his YouTube page which will enable him to extend his comedy sketches beyond fifteen seconds. Recently he began promoting his Snapchat account, and is also busy making connections with other people within the industry. One of his future desire is to be able to collaborate with other West Indian comedians and social media personalities such as YaadBoys, among others. There is no denying that the future is promising for the young comedian and the world awaits what he has in store. While the world anticipates his mainstream success, Stephen already sees it, he has already envisioned where he hopes to be in the coming years. I encourage you all to take some time out of your day to laugh a little, visit his Instagram page and let laughter take you to a better place. I leave you with a quote from Stephen, it is his response to the question, “what do you hope your legacy will be?”
“I want to travel the world helping those in need, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked; helping those who really can’t help themselves. I plan to use my talent of making people laugh to attain fame and fortune to then use that same fame and fortune to make the difference I hope to see. I’m a simple man with big dreams that WILL come true.” – Stephen Francis
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