Matt Rife, comedian and TikToker with so many followers you could fill your boots with them (whatever that means), has been under fire for jokes he made in his latest stand up comedy special ‘Natural Selection’ on Netflix.
Matt Rife Controversy Explained
Basically, Rife made jokes that didn’t land well with everyone. Here’s a full breakdown:
- Controversial Joke: In ‘Natural Selection,’ Rife tells a story about a restaurant hostess with a black eye, implying it was due to domestic violence. He suggests that the hostess should be hidden in the kitchen, adding, ‘If she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye.’
- Audience Reaction: During the special, Rife acknowledges the shock from some audience members, stating he was “testing the water” and believed that starting with a domestic violence joke would make the rest of the show easier.
- Social Media Backlash: Following the airing of the special, Rife faced criticism online for making light of domestic violence. In response, he posted on Instagram, directing those offended to a website selling helmets for people with special needs.
- Public Response: Social media users expressed disappointment and frustration over the joke. Influencer Drew Afualo criticized Rife for potentially alienating his female fan base.
- Rife’s Background and Success: Rife rose to fame during the pandemic through TikTok and has a significant following. He recently announced a sold-out world tour. Despite his success, he has faced criticism for controversial comments in the past.
- Financial Success: Rife is reported to have earned an estimated $25 million in the year ending June 2023, ranking him ninth among Forbes’ Top 30 Creators of 2023.
The Intention of Natural Selection
While Rife is largely known for his crowd work on TikTok, it’s probably fair to assume that the intention of his Netflix special was to demonstrate his ability to deliver material—which a portion of his fanbase might not appreciate the same. That intention, plus money, and the many other reasons why a comedian would obviously want to be on Netflix.
That’s not to say the issue is that Rife told jokes and his fanbase prefers crowd work. Rather, it’s to illustrate that many could’ve seen this coming—that if you were to think-tank it, we’d probably predict that a hot guy’s fanbase curated from TikTok crowd work might not like a joke about domestic abuse, no matter if it was on the spot or written.
“One of the biggest misconceptions of things I get ridiculed online for is people are like ‘oh, he only has a female fan base,’” Rife said in a recent interview with Variety. “In the beginning yes, because I did blow up on TikTok which is very female dominant… So, I get that perspective. But when you come to the shows, I mean, it’s 50/50. It’s couples coming out. It’s groups of dudes who are coming. And that’s one thing that I wanted to tackle in this special was showing people that like despite what you think about me online, I don’t pander my career to women.”