‘Prince Jacob’ the King of Comedy

BY CLARA A RODRIGUES | NT NETWORK

He may be a prince of the stage, but at home he is just a simple man. He is called the ‘King of Comedy’, but off-stage he is contemplative and dons a serious look. Two diametric traits converge into one when you meet Miguel Jacob Carmo Luis Fernandes, aka ‘Prince Jacob’.  

The creases on his forehead belie the fact that the Prince has turned 50. The man himself says, “I am not 50 years old, I see myself as only 15 and when you add that to the 35 years of my tiatr experience, it adds up to 50.” A clever piece of maths which endorses his positive and never-say-never attitude. The climb to the top was never meant to be easy. The harder the climb, the higher you go. He says, “I have had to face many difficulties, but let me tell you that I enjoyed every bit of it.” An answer that surely comes as a surprise to many. He explains, “Unless you face difficulties, you can not taste the fruit. I am not a quitter. Everyone has to face problems in life. Running from it cannot be a solution.”

He muses, “Difficulties help you enjoy life better. It makes you understand what life really is.”

That is probably what has taught Prince Jacob the virtue of maintaining one’s composure in the face of even the most trying situation like the time when five lead artistes of the performing troupe failed to turn up on the day of the show. The memories of this are still vivid in his mind as he recalls how during his tiatr ‘Pordeshi’, in just an hour’s time, he altered the script to ensure a smooth run.

Prince Jacob’s writing of issues concerning Goa and its day-to-day life are not unknown. “I do not write tiatrs that are absurd. For me the success of a tiatr lies not in how many people come to watch my tiatr, but in how much it has touched the heart of the audience.” If in his last tiatr ‘Zait zage’, he sounded the bugle asking Goans to wake up, his latest tiatr ‘Kena Utole’ is a question directed at Goa’s politicians.

As a novice in any field, it is a dream come true to work for an established name. As a new entrant in tiatr, Prince Jacob was no exception. But after rising to the top, there are tons of artistes that dream of getting a chance to work in a Prince Jacob production.

But that does not make him flutter with pride. He says, “I always maintain a low profile.  If there is an opportunity then I welcome them. In my language there is no ‘I’ and ‘me’.”

It was Fr Antonio Pereira who crowned Jacob with the title of ‘Prince’. Prince Jacob plays various roles as he believes that flexibility is the hallmark of an actor. He says, “I also play roles that require me to be serious.

In the tiatr ‘Rupnem’, which was an adaptation of a Marathi natak, I played four different roles, including a comic and serious role.” But he is mostly associated with doing comedy roles. It is this avatar that the audience simply enjoys watching.

Prince Jacob narrates an incident which made him realise this truth. “I was acting in Roseferns tiatr. It was a role where I had to cry. The moment I started sobbing, the audience burst into laughter.” The situation was a solemn one but everyone was in splits, recalls Prince Jacob. He adds, “I am a very serious person at home and at work. I do not know what happens to me on stage.”

Speaking on the current trend of comedy in tiatr becoming vulgar, Prince Jacob disapproves of this below-the-belt humour. He says, “I have had people coming up to me and saying that the only reason they bring their children along for the show is because of the clean humour.”

Prince Jacob has a special affection for priests. Being a student of the first batch from Don Bosco’s Oratory, Prince Jacob recalls the days when an Italian priest, Fr Henry along with other priests taught him so much. Every evening, he says instead of loitering, we used to meet at the Oratory and play and pray. It was like a recreation centre. “I was very close to the priests. I learnt of the difficulties they face.” Prince Jacob acknowledges the contribution of priests in shaping his life and dedicated his tiatr ‘Padri’ to all the priests.

For the workaholic Prince Jacob, chilling out time means working. His choc-o-bloc schedule starts at 5 in the morning when he leaves his home at Margao and comes to Panaji. From 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Prince anchors a radio show. Prince Jacob’s role as an RJ is not new. He used to anchor radio shows much earlier too. He says of his experience of being on the radio, “Being on stage, I entered people’s hearts; while the radio allows me to enter everyone’s homes.”

He reaches home by 2 p.m. and it is show time again, as he is either busy holding rehearsals or performing on stage.

He says, “When I get time, I am always at home. My family fully understand my schedule as they know the nature of a job like mine.”

After having penned a record 25 tiatrs with titles starting with the alphabet ‘P’, Prince Jacob says he lost interest in applying for a Guinness World Record after the Guinness World Record office shifted and his application came back. But he says he will still give it serious thought now.