Comedian Matt Rife is coming under fire again for a joke he made regarding domestic violence in the opening of his Netflix comedy special “Natural Selection.” The comedian had his first taste of fame after a number of clips from his stand up comedy sets went viral on TikTok, at first attracting a predominantly female audience.
The joke entailed a story about a restaurant hostess who had a black eye, which Rife quips she must have gotten from a man she could not cook for. The layered trivialization of domestic violence and perceived sexism have shrouded the Netflix special with criticism. Ahead of its release, Rife spoke about his intention to make the special more for a male audience, after primarily women flocked to his stand up shows nationwide.
His jokes about relationships, sexuality, and his childhood were first regarded as tasteful, until he began making a series of controversial comments in recent months. Months prior to the series of controversial jokes made in the special, the comedian appeared as a guest on the “Stiff Socks” podcast, here he discussed his type in women. He went into minute physical detail, and insulted female anatomy. The comedian now continues to reckon with being called out for alleged misogyny since this podcast appearance.
The podcasters defended Rife’s comments, claiming that it was simply “guys being guys.” Their response was widely criticized on social media. The “locker room talk” excuse came under critical examination in the public eye in mid 2010s, after former U.S. President Donald Trump used the same phrase after he was caught making vulgar comments about women backstage with former television host Billy Bush ahead of the election.
Social Media Reactions
The comedian is being widely slammed for opening the special with a joke about domestic violence.
Outside of the disturbing opening statement, he went on to poke fun at Mercury retrogrades in astrology, crystals and spirituality, and a series of other typically women’s interests. Many found this particularly insulting, as it is his female audience who is in part responsible for his commercial success.
Others who have worked at comedy clubs are coming forward and sharing their experiences working with Rife, and few have anything positive to say.
Some critics feel that Rife is simply better at crowd work and that the pre-written format of a Netflix special does not suit his style.
I'm crying at everyone realizing that Matt Rife isn't funny after watching his Netflix special and coming to the realization that he's only good at the crowd work he posts on Tiktok lmaoo
— Make Oxtail Cheap Again (@simsimmaaz) November 19, 2023
Amid the degrading comments made about women throughout the special, many accuse Rife of pandering to men in the comedy special, even going as far as accusing him of turning to misogyny for validation.
I liked you, Matt Rife. Turns out he’s just like every other straight white male that became a comedian because making shitty jokes about women in grade school made him popular with the cool kids.
— Darth Buccanole Dog Mom (@DarthandDogs) November 20, 2023
I think Matt Rife's special is so bad because he's trying SO hard to prove himself to other men through misogyny. It's desperate and sad.
— Cooper (@Cooperstreaming) November 20, 2023
Me witnessing the downfall of Matt Rife after saying from Day 1 that he gives off ‘president of the frat that women warn other women about’ vibes: pic.twitter.com/Eq2Hqmk3Wy
— only kind of rad (@julianne_terese) November 20, 2023
Rife is only reposting positive commentary on the special, which appears far and few between, despite the special taking the number two spot on Netflix for viewrship. In typical fashion, the comedian has not addressed the controversy at this time.