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Comedy Star Matt Rife Responds To Netflix Special Backlash With Link To ‘Special Needs Helmets’

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Comic Matt Rife faced backlash for his latest stand-up comedy special on Netflix, “Natural Selection,” after a video of him making light of domestic abuse went viral on Monday.

Comedian Rife, who has performed on MTV’s “Wild ‘n Out” and has been performing for more than ten years, responded to his detractors in a lengthy Instagram story on Monday afternoon.

“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told — here’s a link to my official apology,” he wrote. The link in his Instagram story leads to a medical website that sells helmets for people with special needs. 

Despite repeated requests for comment, Rife’s representatives remained silent.

The Netflix original series “Natural Selection,” which debuted on Wednesday, explores issues including having children, spirituality, and trolls on social media. He joked about a Baltimore restaurant server who took his order to start the special. He explained that her eye was black.

“And my boy who I was with was like: ‘Yeah, I feel bad for her, man. I feel like they should put her in the kitchen or something where nobody has to see her face, ya know?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye,’” Rife said.

He then said he was “testing the waters, seeing if y’all are gonna be fun or not.”

“I figure we start the show with domestic violence, the rest of the show should be pretty smooth sailing after that,” he said.

Rife’s opening joke video received thousands of views on X and millions of views on TikTok. He was criticized by many for trivializing abuse.

“Would love to see him explain what makes the joke funny and see if he can say anything other than that it’s shocking,” another said.

He was also chastised for a joke he made about an old classmate with special needs’ penis later in the special.

In July 2022, Rife began to become more well-known on TikTok through his engagement with his audience, or crowd work. When tickets for his “ProbleMATTic” world tour went on sale this year, Ticketmaster crashed.

Among his 18.2 million TikTok followers, a large number are female. Critics claimed he was intentionally alienating his female followers by making them the target of numerous jokes.

“A comedian ruining his relationship with a large portion of his fanbase because he wanted to be like all of the other boring-a– Netflix Special ‘You Cant Tell Jokes Anymore’ crowd is actually just depressing,” YouTuber Hank Green posted on X.

Comedian Pat Loller said on TikTok: “He doesn’t like his audience, and he’s concerned they’re only there to look at him. So he opened his show with a domestic violence joke just to let those ladies know: Stop giving him money.”

On November 14, Rife stated to Variety that he was “ridiculed” for having a fan base that was primarily female. He made it clear that his shows draw a “50/50” crowd and emphasized that he doesn’t “pander my career to women.”

He told the newspaper, “I would argue this special is way more for guys.”

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