Meet the TikTok star who makes fun of the rich
It pays to bash the rich.
Shabaz Ali, a British high school teacher, has built up a huge online following hilariously mocking ostentatious displays of wealth on social media.
Ali, who uses the handle “Shabaz Says,” on Instagram always films his videos, snuggled in bed, clad in a cozy Harry Potter-themed wearable blanket split with some ridiculous Khardashianesque over-the-top clip.
His videos are frequently peppered with phrases like, “I beg your pardon?!,” “You can’t afford that because you’re a povvo (British slang for someone who’s poor), and “I bet that cost more than your grandma’s pension.”
Ali, who has notched up 1.6 million followers on TikTok and 1 million on Instagram began making his videos during the lockdown.
“We all spent a majority of the time after lockdown in bed, tired and exhausted,” he told the NY Post in a recent exclusive interview. “And I think I was just sick of seeing overindulgence online (amid) a cost of living crisis.”
But what really kicked it into overdrive was social media’s obsession with…ice cubes.
In the past year, the hashtag #icetok has racked up nearly a billion views with videos of people showing off their stocked ice drawers, ice cubes made with wildflowers or fruit suspended in them, and a mind-boggling array of differently shaped cubes.
“I was thinking, you must have so much free time to be able to make 15 different flavors of ice,” he explained. “And only a rich person who doesn’t have to go to work could do that.”
The other trend that irks Ali is designer handbags.
“People act as if they’ve been given a Birkin (bag) as if you know, Jesus himself made water into wine in front of them,” he said. “They act like they were gifted from God, himself like God went, ‘This bag is for you.’ ‘And I’ve been waiting years for this bag.’ Are you kidding me? Like, genuinely kidding me that this is what you’ve been waiting for? This is the best day of your life? That’s gross.”
Ali appeared on a reality TV show called “The Circle” in 2021 and also made videos on TikTok but says he didn’t see a huge jump in followers until he began also posting on Instagram.
The 30-year-old high-school chemistry teacher from Blackburn in northern England says he was also inspired to make the videos because he’s seen students suffering in poverty due to draconian government cuts in social services.
Ali loves to joke about the rich but says he has no issue with people being fabulously wealthy.
“I don’t mind people spending money,” he shares. “Go and spend your money on whatever you want. You’ve earned it. It’s do you really need to put that online? Do you really need to show in a world where people don’t have a lot, do you need to show how much you’ve wasted?
“Do you need to show that I filled my entire room with balloons up for my birthday when, you know, you could just got one? Like it wouldn’t make a difference. Do you need to go out there, and buy a [$62,000] bag because you don’t know why? Why did you want to buy it? Because to show everybody. So, yeah, that’s my issue with I guess.”
Ali is looking to cash in on his wealth-bashing brand of humor.
Ali, who counts celebrity followers like director Taika Waititi, “Abbott Elementary” star Lisa Ann Walter, singer Lily Allen, Dan Levy, Issac Mizrahi, and Celeste Barber, is coming out with a line of merchandise, which he acknowledges is a tad ironic.
“It’s a hard thing, isn’t it? It’s a double-edged sword in the sense that I’m making money off calling rich people out for being rich, and I’m making money off it,” he admitted.
Despite the growing number of fans and potential to earn money, Ali, says he has no plans to quit teaching.
“I love teaching so much, it brings me so much joy,” he enthused. “I think the best thing about doing social media is that I get to do it and it’s fun and it’s not a job and I’m not after a paycheck. And that’s why my contest is so popular or is doing well because I don’t care.
“I don’t care because I’m not after money. I am just after making people laugh. And I can do that freely because I know that at the end of the day, I go to work and I do a job and I come home and that’s my wage.”