Comedian Matt Rife is being slammed for a sexist joke. What he actually did is much worse.

Comedian Matt Rife has routinely gone viral on TikTok in the past year or two. 

So much so, that after years of a pretty meandering comedy career, he suddenly took off: gaining more than 350 million likes, 18 million followers, and re;easing four comedy specials in less than three years.

He became beloved for his quick-thinking back-and-forth banter with members of his audience, occasional (or frequent) flirting and for leaning heavily into being, well, good-looking. It all formed a perfect storm and went a long way to building him a large, passionate following. Of mostly women.

Most recently, Rife's success – due to the support of the aforementioned women! – led to an incredible opportunity. On November 15, he released a comedy special on Netflix called Matt Rife: Natural Selection.

 I'm sure that was very exciting for him.

Watch: the trailer for Natural Selection. Post continues below video.

Video via Netflix.

The special has, just as he presumably hoped, created a lot of noise. Very little of it is good noise, but Rife has made it clear in the past couple of days that really doesn't matter. 


At the beginning of Natural Selection, Rife tells a story about being in a "ratchet" Baltimore restaurant with a friend and noticing their female server had a black eye. They wondered why she wasn't being kept back in the kitchen so diners would not see her injury. And the punchline is literally that she wouldn't have been punched in the face if she could cook.


The blatant misogyny is disturbing, but worst of all the joke was just stale. There was nothing clever or fresh about it, as we've heard iterations of it for decades. 

But even worse than the utterly unsurprising fact that this dude used women being abused for a LOL, is the way he used it as bait.

In the special, he told the crowd it was him "just testing the waters, seeing if y'all are gonna be fun or not".

"I figure if we start the show with domestic violence the rest of the show should be smooth sailing."

Unsurprisingly, the joke was slammed. The anger came mostly from women, because they are the ones most impacted by the joke but also because they are the ones tuning in to watch Rife's special in the first place. It seems like that fact makes him feel very inadequate.

Rife also knew the joke would get people mad, because that was the point. The outrage currently reported across news sites across the world was quite literally by design. As was, presumably, his equally unfunny doubling down, which further allowed him to descend into, for want of a less cringe term, 'anti-wokeness'.


"If you've ever been offended by a joke I've told, here's a link to my official apology," he wrote in an Instagram Story after the backlash, alongside a link to a health website selling 'special needs helmets'. Because why not add a little ableism to the fire? Just to really get everyone in a tizzy. That's fun.

Rife's name is now everywhere. He's way more relevant than he ever was as a TikTok guy who went viral for having banter with his crowd and complaining that being hot made his life hard. All it took was throwing the people who got his career to a place where it warranted a Netflix special under a big, misogynistic bus.

It feels like this was his plan all along. 

Rife even said the quiet part out loud during a promotional interview with Variety before Natural Selection's release. His audience has always been predominantly women, and for some reason – like perhaps, more misogyny! – that kills him.

"One of the biggest misconceptions of things I get ridiculed online for is people are like 'oh, he only has a female fan base,'" Rife said in promotion of Natural Selection

"In the beginning yes, because I did blow up on TikTok which is very female dominant... So, I get that perspective. But when you come to the shows, I mean, it's 50/50. It's couples coming out. It's groups of dudes who are coming. And that's one thing that I wanted to tackle in this special was showing people that like despite what you think about me online, I don't pander my career to women."


"I don't pander my career to women."

As if appealing to 50 per cent of the population is the most embarrassing thing you could do. As if it's a justified point of insecurity and resentment. As if these people, who have happily spent their money on supporting him, built him a platform and celebrated his past success, are worth less than being seen as 'a bro'.

And that in order to be seen as 'a bro' you have to pander your career to men by way of joking about beating up women.

It is all so sinister.

The only funny part of this entire situation, including all one hour and four minutes of Natural Selection's runtime, is that it isn't really working.

Even people commenting on some of the darkest corners of the media landscape seemed unimpressed by the fact that the joke feels a million years old. Elsewhere, the men he so desperately wants to like him are wondering out loud if he's simply built a career off the back of his looks or throwing out the term 'pick me boy' to explain how his actions appear too try-hard.

Rife is clearly embarrassed by the fact that women spurred forward his career. But his calculated transition from beloved himbo comedian to edge-lord comic has turned out to be far, far more embarrassing.

Feature image: Netflix.