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Comedian Matt Rife sparked controversy with his Netflix special “Natural Selection,” which launched Nov. 15 on the streaming service. The special opens with a joke about domestic violence. In what appeared to be an apology posted to his Instagram Story, Rife directed anyone offended by his jokes to a link that took them to a special needs helmet website.
At the beginning of Rife’s “Natural Selection,” he tells the story of going to a Baltimore “ratchet” restaurant with a friend where he noticed their waitress had a black eye. They wonder why the restaurant wouldn’t have the waiter work only in the kitchen so customers wouldn’t see his black eye. Rife jokes, “Yeah, but I feel like if she knew how to cook, she wouldn’t have this black eye.”
Rife told the crowd that the joke was that he was “just testing the waters, to see if you guys were going to be funny or not.” He adds: “I think if we start the show with domestic violence, the rest of the show should go smoothly. »
The joke generated controversy on social media in the days following the streaming debut of “Natural Selection,” so much so that Rife took to his Instagram Story on November 20 to issue a fake apology.
“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I told, here’s a link to my official apology,” he wrote alongside a link that said, “Tap to resolve.” Once tapped, the link took subscribers to a health website where they could purchase suitable helmets. Mocking viewers upset about his domestic violence joke by bringing up special needs only fueled the controversy.
Variety contacted Rife’s representative for further comment.
“Natural Selection” marks Rife’s first Netflix comedy special after becoming a viral comedy superstar on social media thanks to videos posted to TikTok and other platforms. In a recent interview with VarietyRife explained how he wanted “Natural Selection” to appeal to both men and women, as his social media videos are often aimed more at a female audience.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about things I get ridiculed for online is people saying ‘oh he only has a female fan base,'” Rife said. “At the beginning yes, because I exploded on TikTok which is very feminine… So, I understand this point of view. But when you come to the shows, I mean, it’s 50/50. These are couples going out. It’s groups of guys arriving. And that’s one thing I wanted to address in this special, was to show people that, despite what you think of me online, I don’t trust women with my career.
“I would say this stage is much more for the guys,” he continued. “I wanted to make it special for everyone. I’m proud to do my comedy for everyone. It’s not for a specific demographic. I think if people just gave it a chance without going in and being like “oh, only girls like him” or “people only like his face.” If you give him an opportunity, I think you would like him.
Rife’s “Natural Selection” is now available to stream on Netflix.