Content warning: This story mentions domestic violence. Gen Z’s favorite TikTok comedian Matt Rife is in some hot water following his new Netflix special, Natural Selection. Rife, who rose to fame on social media because of his crowd-work comedy, has amassed millions of followers and sold out arenas nationwide. However, fans are less-than-pleased about some of his jokes in the Netflix special, as well as his response to the backlash.
Released on Nov. 15, Natural Selection was filmed at Washington, D.C.’s 3,000-seat Constitution Hall. The special features an inappropriate bit about domestic violence, and when he was called out on his inappropriate behavior, Rife responded with an Instagram story to seemingly offer an apology, asking viewers to click a link to view his statement. But, where many were expecting a 2016 style influencer apology, instead was a link to a store for special needs helmets. Obviously, the internet is pissed — and rightfully so.
Rife opened Natural Selection with a joke about a restaurant’s hostess having a black eye, leading Rife to wonder if she should be the face of the restaurant. He went on to joke that she would be better working in the kitchen, but then followed up with a punchline that if she had been good at cooking, she probably wouldn’t have been beaten, making a clear punchline about domestic violence. Her Campus reached out to RIfe’s team for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Ahead of Natural Selection’s release, Rife told Variety that the special was created “way more for guys,” a far-cry for the millions of women who catapulted him to social media fame. He added, “One thing I wanted to tackle in this special was showing people that, despite what you think about me online, I don’t pander my career to women.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that making light of domestic violence, as well as special needs folks, should be a joke to anyone… right?
On top of the follow-up Instagram story being insulting to disabled people everywhere, it also really has the makings of a PR nightmare, with many Twitter and TikTok users saying the ableist joke made everything worse. Many are even calling to stop supporting him and instead enjoy other comedians.
Additionally, former fans pointed out that this set was much more focused on a male audience instead of the female audience that Rife usually attracts.
Drew Afualo commented on the special after being tagged multiple times, saying “One thing about a white straight male comic, they are going to be misogynistic at least three times in any sort of stand-up special.”
It was definitely disappointing to see a comic take such a drastic stance during a set, and then cross the line again in response, further alienating more people. TBH, there are funnier female comedians out there, anyway.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org