Why do you think your act has exploded and become so popular?
To be fair, its probably because of my looks. You can’t be ugly and famous. I genuinely believe it’s the looks.
But if you want a serious answer, I owe it to God. He’s given me this opportunity. Nothing to do with talent. I’ve been given this… to use my fame and position in a responsible way not just to entertain but to make people smile and hopefully learn something from it.
Its not just Muslims who watch your videos, why do you think it appeals to so many people?
I think people can appreciate the humour and there is a message behind it, a moral behind it, it’s not entertainment there’s an extra added value.
You don’t have to be a Muslim to respect your mum or women or not finding violence as the answer and I think people can relate to that.
Do you feel comedy is the best way to ‘break the ice’ when portraying Islam?
I don’t think comedy is the best way to portray Islam. But its definitely one way to teach morals and values. I’ve tried to provide entertainment with good message, but allow people to learn from it. The most powerful thing is it engages everyone.
I’ve had people from everywhere saying they like my videos: Mexico, Kenya, China, Singapore, Poland…actually I made Poland up. But in America and Pakistan etc you expect a fan base. People from different countries tweeting me saying ‘I really like your video and you’ve got a massive fan base here.’ I’m like: ‘Do you lot even speak English’?
Comedy is so powerful; it’s a great way to engage people.
What is the real message behind your videos and what is your reason for doing it?
What I think I’m capable of is making people laugh and smile. I’m crap at everything else but I can make a fool out of myself. If I get their attention I want to give back. I want to do something positive. For this particular project [diary of a badman], I wanted to give something back and spread a good, positive light on Islam. Most people don’t realize we are normal human beings as well.
We have the same morals and etiquettes as they do. We’re stereotyped. A lot of the Muslim community – especially the youngsters – get led astray but even if one person might get inspired and go out and do his own research then it’s all worth it.
I was in Birmingham and this guy told me he went off the rails and started drugs and joined a gang, and he said when he saw my Diary of a Badman, it touched him so much he wanted to change. Now he is studying law.
I think the most rewarding thing is when people say ‘I watched your video and now I respect Islam’ or ‘thank you for giving me a better picture of Islam’. Even atheists are saying ‘I’m looking into Islam now’. At least a handful of people have reverted because of it.
It’s just that tickle. If you go full on then people will lose interest. You don’t want to feel you’re manipulating them, jut give them a little advice.
Its up to them to make the choice. It doesn’t have to be about converting people. If people are happy with their faith that’s fair enough but go back and treat your mum with more respect at least.
Sorry for such a long answer blad.
Do you ever get any negative reception for your videos?
One thing I’ve learnt is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. I’ve had negative feedback . The first mean comment I got, I was really upset, my brother sat me down and said this is how to look at it: ‘you know you’ve made it when you’ve got haters’.
Jay Z is the one of the biggest rappers of all time. [He’s got] more fans than most people but then look at how many haters he has. These people must be ugly. As long as I make more people happy, I’ll carry on doing this.
What did that person say to upset you?
I genuinely can’t remember but it was a stupid thing. It’s jealously.
You can take it two ways. You turn a blind eye or use it to motivate you.
People are very quick to judge. They need to look in their own mirror. We make mistakes. You don’t have the right to say this is wrong. You have just got to ignore it. These people are trying to bring you down. And they are the ones probably cleaning toilets.
Even this 60 year old was saying to me you’re very funny. I genuinely thought it would just appeal to the youth, I’ve got so many young fans but even aunties and uncles. I went to a BBC Asian network charity football event and the amount of old people taking pictures of me. I don’t know if they were like: ‘all the kids are doing it, so lets look cool’!
Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
Yeah definitely. I would do anything for a laugh when I was younger. Don’t want to get into details but… I was such an attention seeker. Always been naughty kid in the family, Chatting too much tutti.
When I was doing GCSE’s I was genuinely dumb. I couldn’t do anything right, one thing I could do is make my friends laugh so I decided to use it as a career.
I don’t see myself doing anything else now. From a little kid, you’re like: I want be a policeman or a fireman or a rocket scientist but from day one I wanted to be an actor.
Unfortunately there are a lot of similarities between me and Badman. Certain things are over exaggerated though.
You’re going to be taking your act Nationwide, with tours across the country, tell me what the motivation was behind this?
Money Init. Cars or something. Might get my mum a new kitchen so she can make less daal.
No, seriously, I’ve been asked to do this tour for a long time but I’ve been reluctant but its a great way to give back to the fans. But the buzz you get from it will be completely different to just sitting in my room making a video.
Follow me on Twitter: omar_shahid