Instagram’s “funniest man” Raven Smith explores love and modern life in his laugh-out-loud debut book.
The hours are long. The days have merged mercilessly into one. And many of us are veering wildly from snack-bingeing (RIP fresh loaf of banana bread), to panicking, and procrastination. If there was ever a time that we needed a little light consolation, it’d be now.
Thankfully, Instagram’s “funniest man”/author/devoted caption connoisseur Raven Smith has come to save us from existential dread with his mischievously hilarious new book and mini guide to modern life: Trivial Pursuits.
Reflective, searingly cutting, and full of the wildest metaphors to rejuvenate your quaking isolated brain – expect anything from odes to being tall, to comparisons on long-term partnerships to a 12-part Netflix documentary.
We caught up with the author below…
Congratulations on Trivial Pursuits! The stream of consciousness prose is so striking – can you talk us through the process of it becoming a book? Did it start as little notes?
Ah, the book was locked up tight for a century of lonely voice notes. We’re bombarded with information every day now, and I tried to catch on paper every thought crossing my mind to sit back and examine. I think you can feel that rapid fire mind-frenzy in the text.
What was the most fun part and the biggest challenge of putting it together?
There’s a sweet spot as a writer, when you hit a slalom of producing text and it’s pouring out of you like diarrhoea after a dodgy oyster. It feels great, but takes a certain environment to hit that critical point. For me, I had to disassociate for all distractions—my phone, my loved ones, my house—and be completely and purely in the moment with the text. The biggest challenge since finishing has been regrouping on all the relationships that suffered because I went one-track mind on the project.
I also loved the chapter all about love and marriage – I read it twice! What three pieces of relationship advice would you give to readers?
Live, laugh, love? I don’t think I have the key to a great, long-lasting romance. I’m just honest about how it feels right now after 10 years with my husband. It’s a 12-part Netflix doc and you just sit back and watch.
What are your three favourite books/websites/reading sources?
Everybody loves the New York Times right? Especially T magazine. My relationship with my editors at Style is relentlessly fruitful. They made me a better writer, more focussed, more probing rather than one-linery. I’m renovating and leafing through World of Interiors in the living room rubble. My New Yorker subscription was a burden as the unread magazines piled up in my toilet, but now it’s lapsed I miss it terribly.
What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve been given on the book so far? What’s been the bit where most people are like “I feel seen!”?
The first chapter, The Fear, is a hypothetical forecast of how tits up it could all go but it’s not coming true just yet. The feedback’s been good. I’m struck by how relatable my idiosyncrasies are. I think we’re all reacting to the din of information we’re served in the attention economy. We’re all consumers in a capitalist society trying to offset the narcissism alongside the carbon footprint.
Where do you get your inspirations from? (For your book and for your Instagram account?)
I try and catch as much truth from my life as I can. Observations of all the absurd shit we do every day. I compulsively note-take my feelings and screengrab whatever I’m reading. The perfect post is just when I’ve noticed something we’re all thinking but haven’t said out loud yet.
Who are your biggest and most surprising celebrity fans?
I love Jerry Saltz. I tend to notice big stars are following when their fans comment on posts they’ve liked. It’s a bit big headed to name names but the followers I admire the most are the ones I think offer some intelligence in their output without being too precious, a dry wit that isn’t slapstick.
How do you respond to being called the funniest man on Instagram?
I hope it’s just an extension of who I am offline too. There’s a lot of people online just being silly and doing jokes, I hope I add some cerebral afterthought too. I honestly make myself laugh when I post. It’s a solid strategy.
When did it start to pick up traction?
A while back now, but Emilia Clarke posted about me and my numbers spiked but I leech followers all the time. I’m not for everyone.
What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
I desperately need a holiday where I don’t have to email anyone but that’s a pipedream. Work-wise, my entire career has been about assessing what’s in front of me and making gut-decisions. I’m not a 5-year-planner and I like it like that. Just waiting for that next opportunity to slide into my dms.