Matt Rife, the burgeoning comedian who recently debuted his first Netflix comedy special, Natural Selection, faced a deluge of criticism after the opening joke of his set stirred outrage for its approach to domestic violence. However, instead of addressing or apologizing for the controversial joke, Rife took a different route on social media.
In a rather unorthodox response on his Instagram Stories, Rife seemed to divert the conversation away from the initial backlash by sharing a post that didn’t address the issue directly but targeted a separate demographic.
“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told,” he captioned a stage image, “here’s a link to my official apology.” The attached link led not to an apology but redirected users to the Medicale Shop’s page for special needs helmets, titled, “Tap to solve your issue.”
Hours later, in what appeared to be a follow-up response to the first post, Rife shared another image captioned, “We on the naughty list,” and included a link labeled “This one’s real this time.” This link took followers to his YouTube page, showcasing a crowd interaction segment labeled “Bad Santa,” referencing his earlier Stories post.
The controversial joke that started the uproar in his Netflix special involved a scenario at a Baltimore restaurant where Rife commented on a server’s black eye, insensitively quipping about domestic violence. Subsequently, he appeared to gauge the audience’s reaction, following up by saying, “I figure if we start the show with domestic violence, the rest of the show should be smooth sailing.”
In an interview with Variety, Rife acknowledged his fan base’s evolving composition, initially more female-oriented due to his TikTok success, and aimed to showcase his material’s broader appeal. He suggested his special is now geared more toward men, a pivot from his earlier audience.
At the time of reporting, Rife was celebrating the success of his Netflix special, currently holding the number one spot on the Top 10 TV Shows in the U.S. However, a substantial portion of the audience reacted negatively to the initial domestic violence joke and found his subsequent ableist response equally offensive, sparking discontent across social media platforms.