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What you need to know about Matt Rife as comedian criticized for joke in Netflix special

Rhianna Benson

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What you need to know about Matt Rife as comedian criticized for joke in Netflix special

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Comedian Matt Rife seems to have emerged out of nowhere, and now he's the name on everybody's lips.

The Ohio-born talent has found himself in the headlines on countless occasions of late.

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This week, Rife was accused of making fun of domestic violence in his new Netflix stand-up series, which has sparked severe backlash.

But on top of giving their verdict on his controversial comment, intrigued viewers of the show have seemingly been dying to know all they can about the promising young comedy star - including his age, his relationship status, his hopes and dreams and his staggering rise to fame.

Well, it turns out that 28-year-old Rife only made a name for himself fairly recently, by self-publishing works on social media sites, including YouTube, having taken an interest in comedy as a teenager.

Matt Rife in 2017. Credit: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
Matt Rife in 2017. Credit: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
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His self-produced comedy specials were called Only Fans (2021), Matthew Steven Rife (2023) and Walking Red Flag (2023).

But his love of entertaining came notably earlier in life.

A teacher had told him at age 14 that he should perform stand-up at his school's talent show, which subsequently gave him a taste of what his future profession could look like.

Following his YouTube success - during which he accumulated a huge cult following and saw his videos go viral - Rife appeared on the American comedy talent show Bring the Funny.

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Rife on 'Bring the Funny' in 2019. Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty
Rife on 'Bring the Funny' in 2019. Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Despite being deemed a fan-favourite, the 6 ft star - who has previously claimed his two biggest influences in comedy are Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais - was eliminated in Week 8.

He has also dabbled somewhat in the world of acting, having made appearances in the loves of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fresh Off The Boat.

It was off the back of these on-screen appearances, that Rife scored his first Netflix comedy special, titled Natural Selection.

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The recorded version of his live tour is currently sitting pretty in the Top 10 spot on Netflix in the States.

But, as Smash Mouth would say, not all that glitters is gold.

Rife has come under fire for his controversial joke. Credit: Taylor Hill/Netflix
Rife has come under fire for his controversial joke. Credit: Taylor Hill/Netflix

And for Rife, the dark side of fame appears to have been catching up with him in recent weeks.

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After his first ever Netflix stand-up show launched on the streaming service last month, he has found himself in a difficult position after making a controversial joke about domestic violence.

Rife's punchline was a waitress in Baltimore who had a black eye.

He says in the TV special: "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.'

"And I was like: 'Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn't have that black eye.'"

Rife came under fire for approaching Zendaya on the show. Credit: YouTube/WildNOut
Rife came under fire for approaching Zendaya on the show. Credit: YouTube/WildNOut

After his joke came under fire from viewers - who described it as the 'lowest of the low' - Rife today defended his comedy.

"I don’t really adhere to this whole sensitivity rumor in the comedy world that you can’t say anything anymore," he has now said.

“You can say whatever you want. Now, you have to prepare for repercussions. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how do you sleep at night."

Rife has found himself in hotter water still today after a video of an uncomfortable interaction between him and Zendaya resurfaced.

During his 2015 appearance on Wild n' Out, he was challenged to make the the celebrity guest - in this case, Zendaya - laugh so hard that they spit out the water in their mouth.

Rife and his girlfriend Jessica Lord. Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Rife and his girlfriend Jessica Lord. Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

He said: "Look, you're mixed, I want to be Black. Let's make a lifestyle movie!"

But this didn't go down well and the Spiderman actress kept the water firmly in her mouth.

Rife - who is currently dating actress and dancer, Jessica Lord - awkwardly followed up by striding right over to Zendaya, grabbing her face and saying: "Spit that water out so I can get your number, please."

She was visibly unimpressed by him invading her personal space as well as his strange bid for a date during the game.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247

Topics: Film & TV, Celebrity, Film and TV, Netflix, Social Media, TikTok, Twitter, Matt Rife

Rhianna Benson
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