Comedian Matt Rife came under fire for his new Netflix comedy special, “Natural Selection,” after clips of him joking about domestic violence went viral on Monday.
Rife, who has been a comedian for more than a decade and appeared on MTV’s “Wild ‘n Out,” posted a lengthy response to his critics on his Instagram Story 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 her Instagram story leads to a medical website that sells helmets for people with special needs.
Representatives for Rife did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Natural Selection,” which premiered Wednesday on Netflix, touches on topics such as social media trolls, spirituality and having children. She opened the special with a joke about a restaurant waiter who took her order in Baltimore. He described how she had a black eye.
“And the guy 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 no one has to see her face, you know? And I was like, ‘Yeah, but I feel like if she knew how to cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye,'” Rife said.
He then said he was “testing the waters, to see if they’re going to be fun or not.”
“I imagine we start the show with the domestic violence, the rest of the show should go smoothly after that,” he said.
The clip of Rife’s opening joke garnered millions of views on TikTok and thousands on X. People condemned him for making light of the abuse.
“I’m really trying to figure out how to make this fun. Like I’m blaming the victim? wrote one commenter on TikTok.
“I’d love to see him explain what makes the joke funny and see if he can say something other than how shocking it is,” said another.
He was also criticized for a joke he made later in the special about the penis of a former classmate who had special needs.
Rife began gaining popularity on TikTok with his public work, or engagement with his audience, in July 2022. Ticketmaster crashed this year when tickets for his “ProbleMATTic” world tour went on sale.
She has amassed a platform of 18.2 million followers on TikTok, many of whom are women. Critics said they felt she was intentionally alienating her female fans by making them the butt of many jokes.
“A comedian ruining his relationship with a large portion of his fan base because he wanted to be like all the other bores from the Netflix special ‘You Can’t Tell Jokes Anymore’ 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 worried they’re just there to watch him. So he opened his show with a joke about domestic violence just to let those women know: stop giving him money.”
Rife told Variety on Nov. 14 that he was “ridiculed” for having a predominantly female fan base. He clarified that the audience at his shows is “50/50” and insisted that he does not “please women with my career.”
“I would say this special is much more for kids,” he told the publication.