When it comes to Cleveland native Ricky Smith, this comedian, writer and editor for Adult Swim's Black Dynamite is as funny and as modest as they come. Also a do-gooder, Smith founded “Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere” (or R.A.K.E) because he just wanted to get out there and be kind. What a concept right? A ton of people are taking notice and jumping onboard allowing this movement to spread like wildfire around the world. Don't believe us? Just check out the hashtag #RAKE on Twitter or Instagram and you'll see people from all over following his lead. It has left him feeling great and if you get in on the fun of simply being kind, you can get the same wonderful “warm and fuzzy” feeling as well. The best part about this movement? You don't even need money to deliver a smile to someone's face. We had the chance to talk to Ricky to see how this all started and to see how we can all do our part to R.A.K.E because let's face it, we could all use a little kindness.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I heard something about Twitter being the reason that you ended up in California. True or false?
Ricky Smith: Yeah this guy who worked at Comedy Central at the time found me and was like, “You're pretty funny. You should think about doing something with comedy or TV.” I was thinking, oh yeah, that sounds so Hollywood. Whateva, salt and peppa. But then I was like, maybe I should move out to L.A. so I did and I actually lived with Tichina Arnold who played Pam on “Martin.” I owe a lot of it to Tichina because she believed in me. We met randomly in New York at four in the morning when she couldn't get a seat in a restaurant. I helped her get a seat and then she didn't have any silverware so I literally took all of the silverware off every single table and gave it to her. She was like, you might be the craziest person I've ever met. So that's really how I ended up out here. It was Twitter that gave me the idea.
And then you started this R.A.K.E movement. How did that come to be?
Long story short, I was gaining a little weight because I love Little Caesars pizza. [Laughs.] I was walking home one day thinking, I don't need to eat this whole pizza. I saw a homeless woman on the street and started thinking, how cool would it be to have a pizza day? Everyone loved pizza day back in school! So I gave one homeless lady a slice of pizza, then another person a slice, and by the time I got home, I had no pizza left but I felt good. I put it on Instagram or “Insta-brag” because people just go on there and are all like, look at me, look at me! But this time I was like, look at me! I'm doing something kinda fun because I had everyone make funny faces in their photos. People thought it was awesome. Fast forward a week later and I was auditioning for my first ever movie role and I bombed horribly! Then I went home and thought, how cool would it be if someone actually bought me a pizza? So I put it on Twitter. There were a bunch of replies and I found the most normal person because I had to give them my address, and it was a random guy from Chicago. Within thirty minutes, someone from Dominos was at my door with a large pizza!
That is insane. It's cool, but crazy.
Yeah. I then started thinking, how cool would it be to do something like this with my Twitter followers where I'd just go across country doing nice things with nothing but my cell phone and my ID. The next day I put it up on Facebook and some guy was like, “I have a car in Cleveland that you can borrow for three weeks if you just come and get it.” I had never met even met this guy! I was like, that's weird, but I'm going to go and get that car. Then a Twitter follower said, “I'm an airline stewardess and you can use a buddy pass to get there.” I was like, “Whoa! This is real!” So I went to the airport, got the buddy pass, and went to pick up the car. I just wanted to give back to people doing random acts of kindness!
So you took some random guy's car and traveled around the country?
Yeah! And I still hadn't met him at that time! He was overseas when I went to pick up the car so I got it from his friend's house. I ended up going to seventeen places across the country.
What has been your favorite R.A.K.E so far?
That's hard. [Laughs.] I know this is going to sound stupid but, they all give you a rush. I went to this old folk's center in Atlanta and I hung out with them for three hours. I kind of did an impromptu stand-up show and then ended up making-out with a 92 year-old woman who said, “We now go together.”
Pause. Did you tongue kiss this 92 year-old woman?
Yeah. It's on Instagram.
OK that may be taking kindness too far. You keep talking while I hurl…
[Laughs.] It was cool though because they actually raised some gas money for me, gave me a plate of food, and an Obama hat. I don't know where the hat came from, maybe they had it in the back. Another cool one was me, Mickey Mouse, Minnie, and SpongeBob SquarePants just randomly appeared in the streets of Nashville and we used our services to help a local football team raise money. People just pulled over to take pictures. What happens is a lot of times, I don't plan them. People tell me what to do and I do it with them. A lot of the times R.A.K.E's don't even require money. One of my favorite ones to do is to just stand on the corner and give out high-fives or hugs. You can even just talk to people.
So people want to get in on the act then.
Yeah. I think a lot of it is the randomness that's the best part. The random act of kindness. The fun part is being kind in a random way. I think a lot of people want to do good but they just don't know how to do it or they don't have that push. A lot of people are doing what I'm doing already though, that's why I don't really like taking credit for it. That said, I also think that if there is somebody like myself that is out there doing things and it inspires them, then so be it.
It's important to stay humble but you have to know that you are doing a great thing.
I just don't want to come across holier than thou. I don't want to say, be like me, I'm perfect. I'm a comedian by nature so I can still be kind of a jerk. I still do questionable things, I still drink, and I still hang out. But I'm just a little kinder. Going across country doing “random acts of kindness” for three weeks made me addicted. I can't stop doing nice things. After I went home to L.A., I became depressed because I wasn't getting out and meeting all of these people so I was like, I gotta keep going! I did everything purposely and organically though. I didn't hit up any of my celebrity friends or my friends with followers which made it fun because it makes it a true movement. That means if someone finds out about it, it's because they searched it out which is cool. It's a little frustrating because you want to make that phone call, but it's 100% organic.
Is there an end game for you in all of this?
There isn't. I'm not trying to get credit for any of this, it just feels good. It gives me a rush. Not to sound corny but, I just want it to inspire people to be kind. Also, I want to make my mom and dad proud by finding a nice young lady to be with. [Laughs.] A young lady in San Francisco did tell me that she wanted to R.A.K.E my body, so I haven't been to San Francisco yet. [Laughs.] All jokes aside though, I just want to be nice. Some people go to church on Sunday's, I praise the booty. No idea what that means but…
The booty huh? OK so what feels better, random acts of kindness or sex?
[Laughs.] There's no guilt when you R.A.K.E so I'm going to go with random acts of kindness for the win!
Now that you're all inspired, you can get more info on R.A.K.E by going to www.RakeNow.org, pick up a “Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere” t-shirt, check out what they're doing on Facebook, and follow the movement on Twitter @RAKENow. You can (and should) also follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickonia.