Los Angeles – November 22, 2023
Comedian Matt Rife faces backlash for his reaction to criticism regarding a contentious domestic violence joke featured in his debut Netflix special, “Natural Selection,” which premiered on November 15th. Rather than diffusing the situation, Rife’s attempt at humor has only fueled more disapproval.
In the opening of his stand-up special, Rife tested the audience with a joke about domestic violence, questioning if the crowd would be receptive to such material. The negative response prompted Rife to post a fake apology on his Instagram Story, providing a link that humorously directed users to a website selling “special needs helmets.”
Social media erupted with condemnation, with one user expressing, “@mattrife people with disabilities aren’t your punchline after making a misogynistic DV joke. be funny without being a gross human or you’re just not funny???” Others echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the inappropriateness of using disability as a punchline.
In another segment of the special, Rife recounted a story about a visit to a Baltimore restaurant, making a joke about a server with a black eye. The quip drew further criticism, with audiences expressing their dissatisfaction with Rife’s choice of material.
Fans, especially women who constitute a significant portion of Rife’s following, voiced their disappointment. One social media user commented, “the way women catapulted matt rife into popularity and the second he gets a comedy special on netflix he immediately betrays them with a joke about domestic violence crazy innit.”
Rife, known for his crowd work on TikTok, claimed in an interview with Variety that his comedy special is geared more toward a male audience, challenging the misconception that his fan base is predominantly female. Despite facing online ridicule, he defended his work, stating, “I would argue this special is way more for guys.”
In response to the backlash, Rife emphasized his gratitude for women in an episode of the “BFF’s Pod,” acknowledging their role in his social media success. However, he maintained that his comedy is tailored more toward a male audience.
The controversy surrounding Rife’s Netflix special raises questions about the fine line between pushing comedic boundaries and crossing into offensive territory. As social media continues to amplify public reactions, the fallout from Rife’s attempts at humor could have lasting effects on his career.