Who’s behind the ‘sassy man apocalypse’ taking over TikTok?

Prayag Mishra didn’t ask to be sassy. It’s just who he is.

“I really don’t know how to feel about this whole sassy thing and I wanted to talk about it,” Mishra, a TikTok creator, said in a recent viral video. “First thing I want to say is guilt, guilty, guilty. I’ve been that.”

Mishra’s videos have reached the For You page of over a million people (at least), winning them over with his charm and unapologetic attitude. He’s been dubbed a proponent of the “sassy man apocalypse,” part of an online trend showing men unafraid to say it how it is, while wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

Trending TikTok videos of the sassy man apocalypse include men clapping back to insults and embracing self-expression, no matter how feminine their popped hip may seem to detractors. At the movement’s core is a disruption of gender norms, and Mishra is aware of the ability it has to break down stereotypes.

The video that put the Toronto-based creator on the map was his dance tutorial of the “Wassup Gway” trend where he adds a shoulder push, while quipping: “It’s the way you act, act, act, act.” The snippet has been replicated across social media with captions like “When your manager asks why you’re putting in your 2 weeks” and “When my mom asks why I don’t live at home to save money.”

Mishra has grown his “pookie nation” to over a million followers for embracing his inner sassy man. Here’s what the latest leader of the “sassy man apocalypse” has to say about how his new role has altered his perspective on life. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

On Sept. 27, you were celebrating 100,000 followers and 11 days later you were celebrating a million. How does it feel to witness that rise?

It’s definitely a very surreal feeling. I’m now experiencing a lot of people coming up to me in real life, everywhere I go — people on the road will wave to me. It’s just very, very surreal because it’s always just been me and my phone. To have a real-life impact is unbelievable. There are thousands of mentions and duets that I can’t even catch up on. It’s been a beautiful, beautiful feeling.

When did you realize that what you were creating resonated with people and was going to be something big?

When I started getting DMs and a lot of messages expressing how it’s actually helping them understand how important radical acceptance and self-expression actually are. A month ago, it was the first time that I was putting all of myself on the internet. When I made the video saying, “Guilty, guilty. I’m sassy.” I really wasn’t expecting love. I was expecting more of a divide. I was expecting to be made fun of or roasted. I’ve always been this way my entire life, so to get unanimous love from the people is one of the biggest blessings.

What originally brought you to TikTok?

I was 23 years old when I started posting. Over the years, I can see my progression as becoming more and more of who I am on the internet. So when you first start, you’re acting a certain way, you’re talking a certain way, you’re trying to deepen your voice, you’re trying to sound a bit more sophisticated, you’re trying to sound a bit more intelligent. Over time, my ego started to fall a little bit and my guard started to get let down. Something just clicked in me where I said, “It’s go time. You have to just show the world who you are.” And it’s been unbelievable to see people responding to that.

Your content really aligns with the “sassy man apocalypse.” How would you say you fit into that movement?

I’ve always been called sassy my entire life. In terms of where I fit into the movement, I’m on the front lines of the sassy man apocalypse. There are great sassy men that came before me and there are great sassy men around me now. And the idea is that a sassy man is someone who is confident. I don’t think it’s for everyone. I think it’s only for people who have tapped into self-expression and accept themselves first and foremost. To be sassy to me is to be comedic, to be funny, to talk back, to tell people how you really feel, to dive into a type of self-expression that isn’t bound by traditional masculine, macho norms. I think that the rise of the sassy man is well due and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Who is your sassy man inspiration?

Drake is the sassy man apocalypse leader right now. I definitely think he’s up there. He’s always been himself in terms of his expression. He’s not scared to be considered less manly by any means.

How has TikTok altered your life?

I’ve always been in tech, that’s been the industry I’ve always worked in. I got fired from my job last year, and I started expressing myself online since then. I don’t think that there’s any capacity in which It hasn’t changed my life. It’s truthfully come to the point where it’s taken over. I believe that the only way forward is for me to express myself and honor exactly who I am at that point in time. I can always yearn for people’s love. I will always appreciate it. But this is truthfully all happening because of the people. Not because of me. The love and the pookie bears — the pookie nation.

What do you hope for the future of your time on TikTok and for the ‘sassy man apocalypse’?

I desperately want to create a massive impact in the way that online culture has come about. I think for the longest time, the online world has been a bit of a war zone, the wild, wild west. The amount of negativity and hate that spread online is unbelievable. I speak in the language of love and romance. My mission here is to help people understand that we can actually practice love with one another every single day and change the way that we speak to one another. We do not have to be bound by social norms. We do not have to be bound by gender norms. We can be who we are, we can love each other we can we can accept each other.