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The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Matt Rife’s new Netflix special has revealed his ability to execute a joke is offensive(ly lacking)

A photo of Matt Rife performing at Madison Square Garden
USA Today
A photo of Matt Rife performing at Madison Square Garden

Netflix has gained yet another stand-up special to put on its repertoire, but this time, it has completely backfired.

Rather than the laughter and adoration that Netflix had expected to be met with, it has instead been met with backlash and controversy, and there is one person at the root of all of it: Matt Rife.

Rife is a comedian who has gradually found himself appearing more and more in the limelight.

One of his first large appearances in the comedy world is on the show Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out. The general premise of this show is that there are two teams of comedians and each team competes in improvisational games, whether it be comedy sketches or rap battles. Eventually, he became a recurring member, appearing from seasons seven to nine.

However, after a while, he began to fall back from the spotlight—that was, until, TikTok came to rise. 

On the platform, he would post various clips of the crowd work he would do at his comedy shows. As a result, he amassed millions of followers, an audience notably comprised primarily of women.

That was when he got his Netflix comedy, Matt Rife: Natural Selection, and the moment that it all fell into shambles.

In the very first few seconds of the show, he immediately pulls out a joke about domestic violence against women. As for the rest of the show, it followed suit with similar questionable jokes. Seeing as his audience is made up of predominantly women, his jokes did not bode very well with them. In fact, many of the women felt betrayed.

Even if Rife had been catering to a male audience, that would not require him to make thoughtless jokes about such serious topics.

After receiving such harsh criticism about his show, he issued an “apology” on an Instagram story, which said, “If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told—here’s a link to my official apology.” However, what the link included was anything but an apology, but rather a link that directed his followers to a website that sells special-needs helmets. Consequently, he was then accused of not only acting sexist but also ableist because of the implication that anyone who may question his jokes must have special needs.

Out of all the possible routes he could have taken for his apology, he found the worst possible one.

In an interview with Variety, he claimed that it was a misconception that his fanbase was primarily women. Instead, he insisted that his audience is actually primarily men and that the women on TikTok are only the reason he blew up, but he has since expanded his audience to primarily men. He states that was the reason why his Netflix special was set up the way it was: to cater to men.

That statement alone speaks volumes. Even if Rife had been catering to a male audience, that would not require him to make thoughtless jokes about such serious topics. To say that people are not allowed to make jokes about the subject would be wrong; there are plenty of other shows and comedians that have made jokes on the same topics he had. However, the difference is that they did it in a manner that wasn’t demeaning. The same cannot be said for the way he executes his jokes.

Everything from the joke itself to his actions after the fact shows a clear lack of empathy and fault in his character. So, at the end of the day, all of the backlash he is receiving is no one’s fault but his own.

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About the Contributor
Alysse Calabio, Staff Writer
Alysse Calabio is going on to her second and final year on The Central Trend. If there's anything she loves more than the world, it would be experiencing new adventures and hobbies; everything from taekwondo to horseback riding to, evidently, writing has caught her attention at some point. Whether or not she was able to stick with it is up for debate but to say she didn't try would be a lie. In her free time you'll find her attempting to learn how to cook, something she has failed miserably in the past, and crocheting her heart out. This year will surely be a bittersweet one, but she's excited to be going through it. Artist she is currently obsessing over: Laufey Her favorite movie: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once Most interesting food she's ever tried: Chicken feet  

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