Comedian Matt Rife, who rose to fame for the viral TikTok clips from his stand up comedy shows, came under fire this week for opening his Netflix comedy special “Natural Selection” with a joke about domestic violence. Instead of apologizing following the mass backlash he continues to receive, Rife posted an Instagram story that appeared to insult people with disabilities.
The post, which was intended as a joke, is now being slammed for its perceived ableism. The comedian posted a photo of himself from the special, captioned “if you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told–here’s a link to my official apology.” The link, labeled “tap to solve your issue”, redirects Instagram users to a listing for “special needs” helmets. This was intended to insinuate that any of his critics must have something wrong with them, and also an insult to those living with disabilities. The term “special needs” has been widely condemned by disability rights activists in recent years, and is often perceived to be offensive.
The response comes after Rife’s opening punchline for the Netflix special. 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.
Rife went on to further make jokes at women’s expense in what many felt was poor taste, especially due to female audience’s role in his come up in comedy. He went on to poke fun at Mercury retrogrades in astrology, crystals and spirituality, and a series of other typically women’s interests.
Social Media Reactions
Many continue to slam the comedian’s seemingly offensive jokes about women and domestic violence, even more so amid his response to the backlash. Now, some reflect upon what his intentions were all along, as he appeared to never take issue with having primarily female fans until recently.
Matt Rife was funny plenty of times before the Netflix speci-
— T (@trinawatters) November 21, 2023
Some TikTok creators ponder whether the comedian is struggling with his recent fame and it is reflecting poorly in his material. One creator assessed that Rife likely will continue to insult women in order to pursue being taken seriously by men in the comedy world.
Many continue to pick apart Rife’s material and analyze why they feel he lacks perspective.
Matt Rife’s new stand up special is getting rightful criticism for being misogynistic & unfunny. Here’s how I would fix it. pic.twitter.com/VCJ0k7yPF8
— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) November 21, 2023
Others found his jokes about diverse communities to be a red flag earlier on in his comedy career long before the special.
I feel like most Black people clocked Matt Rife and his questionable race jokes a hot minute ago and ppl were like “well that’s comedy 🤪” and “stop being so sensitive” and now… pic.twitter.com/M8WbFTHQiF
— thiccazona iced tea 99¢ (@oldbaymami) November 21, 2023
Some point out that they feel the memes about Rife online are funnier than his special.
The women making fun of Matt Rife on social media are more hilarious than he's ever been. pic.twitter.com/AFL9e7F2V2
— Romance Rehab (@RomanceRehab) November 21, 2023
Rife has not spoken further on the mass criticism he continues to receive.