Make Your Mark Moments: Abz Ali
Growing up, Abz described himself as the Harry Potter-looking kid who preferred to stay quiet and keep to himself. But with a burning desire to question everything with ‘why’, he was also naturally inquisitive. He recalls a particular day in high school when he was asked to recite an excerpt in class and was largely ignored by his peers, however when another student did the same, the class fell into uncontrollable laughter. Reflecting on how he engaged in classes, he felt that it was time to stop being the ‘quiet kid’ and began to embrace his now personal mantra of speaking up and trying to make someone laugh everyday.
When Abz began practicing comedy at 15 years old, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) didn’t have a comedy scene; it was an entirely new form of entertainment and a little foreign. After moving to New Zealand to study Dentistry, he found an outlet practicing stand-up in one-off shows at his University. After several years creating unforgettable laughs and becoming ‘that guy’, his side-gig took the reins when a workshop became available in the UAE to practice comedy.
Abz is now 11 years into his comedy career and he hasn’t looked back for a second.
With physical interaction such a huge part of his life, thriving in a COVID environment required some serious career alterations.
As a Dentist and Comedian, Abz’s regularity of personal interaction was immediately put on hold when the entire UAE went into partial-lockdown in March.
Not wanting his gigs left behind, he reinvented himself and initiated a major pivot in his career by transitioning his shows online. Displaying innovation at it’s finest, Abz brought together a collection of comedians from all over the world to perform live on Zoom every few weeks. But for Abz, his appetite to help was left unsatisfied. Feeling a need to do more, he proactively seeked an alternative opportunity and volunteered to screen COVID-19 patients.
As he switches between online comedy and shift work at screening centres, every day has it’s differences for Abz. And although he may not be performing on stage as often as he would like, he can proudly say that he is continuing to pursue his dream of helping people - whether it be through laughter or not.
Our key takeaway? Change doesn’t have to be scary. We may need to shift our routine, but with a persistent dream and an unwavering will to keep moving forward, we can achieve success.
A lesson on gratitude and being the best version of yourself everyday.
While it’s easy to shine a light on the negatives that recent changes have brought, Abz has transitioned his mindset to do exactly the opposite.
One concept that he passionately lives by is to remember that “the sun is always going to shine.” Reminding himself that everything he’s gone through in life has prepared him for situations just like this, he explains “In a couple of years time, we will look back and understand why we had to go through this.”
Rather than living with a pessimistic mindset, Abz urges everyone to take a step back, appreciate what you have, and explore what it’s like on the other side.