Matt Rife Ignites Backlash Over Domestic Violence Joke in Netflix Special and Mock ‘Apology’ That Links to Website for Special Needs Helmets
Comedian Matt Rife has ignited controversy with his Netflix special “Natural Selection,” which launched Nov. 15 on the streaming service. The special kicks off with a joke about domestic violence. In what appeared to be an apology posted to his Instagram story, Rife directed anyone offended by his jokes to a link that led them to a website for special needs helmets.
At the beginning of Rife’s “Natural Selection,” he tells a story about being in a “ratchet” Baltimore restaurant with a friend and noticing their female server has a black eye. They wonder why the restaurant wouldn’t have the server work solely in the kitchen so that customers wouldn’t see her black eye. Rife jokes, “Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye.”
Rife tells the crowd the joke was him “just testing the waters, seeing if y’all are gonna be fun or not.” He adds: “I figure if we start the show with domestic violence the rest of the show should be smooth sailing.”
The joke generated controversy on social media in the days following the streaming debut of “Natural Selection,” so much so that Rife took to his Instagram story on Nov. 20 to issue a mock apology.
“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told, here’s a link to my official apology,” he wrote alongside a link that said: “Tap to solve the issue.” When tapped, the link brought followers to a health website where they could purchase special needs helmets. Mocking viewers upset with his domestic violence joke by evoking special needs only added more fuel to the controversy.
Variety has reached out to Rife’s representative for further comment.
“Natural Selection” marks Rife’s first Netflix comedy special after becoming a viral comedy superstar on social media thanks to videos posted on TikTok and other platforms. In a recent interview with Variety, Rife spoke about how he wanted “Natural Selection” to appeal to both men and women since his social media videos often cater more to a female audience.
“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 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 would argue this special is way more for guys,” he continued. “I wanted to make this special for everybody. I pride myself on making my comedy for everybody. It’s not for a specific demographic. I think if people would just give it the chance without going into it and being like ‘oh, only girls like him’ or ‘people only like his face.’ If you give it an opportunity, I think you’d like it.”
Rife’s “Natural Selection” is now available to stream on Netflix.