What started out as a simple ploy to make people laugh quickly became an avenue for good causes and charities to grow. Mohanad Ali Shama is a Palestinian-American father of three who does whatever it takes to take care for his family in Chicago, Illinois. Shama began posting as “MoeShama” on Vine, a new social media app that allows its users to post six-second videos, about a year and a half ago.
“At first, it was just to make people laugh. I like making people laugh, I always have. When I was young I always liked making people laugh in school so I always had an interest in comedy,” Shama said.
Shama started out posting vines that were relatable to the average Arab Americans, occasionally including his own family members in his skits. His six-second videos soon turned into 15-second videos for Instagram, a more well-known social media app. And as an admin for “ArabVines24,” a popular account on Vine and Instagram that shares other Arab viners’ videos, his popularity soon soared.
“At first I didn’t want to put myself out there. I was just really playing with it and all of a sudden I got noticed by people who were bigger and then they started putting me out there and that encouraged me to do more,” Shama said.
As he realized the influence and power he had with his few thousand followers, he became motivated to make videos with more serious messages like raising awareness about the orphan situation in Syrian refugee camps.
“I felt like if I could make a name for myself and then every once in while I could do a donation video or something like that…something serious which I do every once in a while and not just the comedy,” Shama said. “That keeps me going, that’s why I want to do it. The first donation video I made for Zakat Foundation actually brought in a real lot of money and it encouraged me to keep doing this.”
Although he keeps busy with his job and his family, he finds that taking a little time out of his day to make something that might influence someone to do good or to feel good makes it all worthwhile.
“If I do this comedy and do these donation videos then every once in a while when I have something to say maybe a few people will listen because they already follow me for something else,” Shama said. “It’s basically a path to let me let my voice be heard not only in a funny way but in a serious way.”
In the future, Moe Shama hopes to continue voicing his thoughts, both comedic and tragic, into YouTube videos. His constant use of the theater masks emoji, or the symbol of Greek muses comedy and tragedy, is a slight indication of his ability to make you laugh at times and make you cry at other times.
“Not everything is a joke…sometimes we need to get serious,” Shama said.