Matt Rife Is Not Your Average TikTok Star

Matt Rife is a TikTok personality with an expansive female fan base, as well as being an actor featured on Wild n’ Out – an immensely popular sketch comedy and improv show.

But his new Netflix special has stirred considerable debate for its misogynist and ableist humor, prompting many people to question why its content is so offensive. It is essential that we explore why his material is offensive.

He is a TikTok star

Rife rose to fame on social media when he began uploading clips of his crowd work – which refers to parts of standup routines in which comedians interact with their audiences in long improv exchanges – on TikTok. These posts went viral and propelled Rife into comedy’s upper ranks of fame on social media.

But his rise to fame hasn’t been without challenges; in the last year, he’s had to cancel several sets due to negative press. Most recently, shows in Indiana had to be postponed due to medical emergency.

This 28-year-old from Columbus, Ohio began his comedy career as a small-time standup comic before moving to Los Angeles and joining Wild n Out sketch and improv show series as well as appearing in small featured roles on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fresh Off the Boat sitcoms. Additionally, he self-financed his first one-hour special “Only Fans”, and is working on workplace comedy for Netflix.

He has a female fan base

This 28-year-old comedian came into prominence after videos of his crowd work went viral on TikTok. Since then, he has appeared on various MTV shows as well as appearing in B-movie slasher film Black Pumpkin. Additionally, in 2022 he competed on Comedy Battle Royale reality TV show as well as guesting on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; additionally he made appearances on Bring the Funny.

Rife’s Netflix special, Natural Selection, was released in November 2018 and quickly won over an audience, mostly women. But his latest special, Rife opens his show with an offensive joke about domestic violence that does nothing for audience engagement or laughter.

Drew Afualo, an TikToker and social media influencer who specializes in responding to misogynist men online, quickly responded to Rife’s joke on her channel on Monday with a video explaining why it wasn’t funny.

He has a gay fan base

Before TikTok, Matt Rife struggled to establish himself as a comedy talent, often switching between MTV variety shows and guest roles on sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But eventually he managed to gain entry through Hollywood gatekeepers by self-financing an hour special in 2021 for release on YouTube – and it became an enormously popular hit, catapulting Rife into fame and success.

Rife signed an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2023 and quickly released his debut special, Natural Selection. It quickly rose into the top 10 chart positions while also sparking controversy due to an opening joke referencing domestic violence.

Misogynists find this joke hilarious because it validates their hatred of women and allows them to act upon it. Rife may not find domestic violence humorous himself, but his target demographic does, and Rife seems indifferent about any backlash that might ensue – this is yet another classic example of white guy imperviousness to serious criticism; his special has reignited debate about whether comedy still has validity when offending vulnerable groups of people.

He has a white fan base

Matt Rife rose to fame on TikTok through his viral crowd work and quickly amassed a loyal female following. But his first Netflix special has garnered considerable backlash due to an opening joke that references domestic violence. For someone whose career is focused on female audiences, this decision comes as quite an unexpected move.

Rife details his experience visiting a Baltimore restaurant where its hostess had a black eye; Rife refers to domestic abuse in his narrative; though Rife claims not to have changed his style as a comedian due to any backlash, but did have to cancel two shows due to health reasons, but plans on continuing touring next month.