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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Rife to the occasion: Matt Rife’s journey to comedic stardom

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Wikimedia Commons/OVERNIGHT

Good comedy isn’t for the weak. And now, there’s a new guy on the block who’s capturing the laughs of thousands.

Matt Rife, the 28-year-old comedian from Columbus, Ohio, quickly blasted into fame after going viral on TikTok in 2022. Capitalizing off of a female audience, his mix of sex appeal and raunchy comedy is nearly unbeatable and he’s continued to rise in popularity ever since.

Rife recently released his own Netflix special, “Natural Selection,” which aired on Nov. 15. The special tackles a variety of topics, from his personal background to the backlash he’s faced in the industry, all while making jokes that teeter on the line of funny and controversial.

The comedian first took an interest in comedy when he was 14, performing in a school talent show. He’s been chasing a career for 12 years — he told a D.C. audience during his aforementioned special — and it wasn’t until a TikTok edit blew up that he got his big break.

Despite only recently coming into the spotlight, this isn’t Rife’s first time on the screen. He has three prior comedy specials on YouTube, “Only Fans” in 2021, “Matthew Steven Rife” in February and “Walking Red Flag” in June. He’s also made appearances on several other popular comedies, “Wild ‘n Out,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Fresh Off the Boat” among them.

The 28-year-old accredits his fame to hard work and his sudden rise in popularity on social media. However, there’s a running joke that his adoration comes from a combination of crowd work and conventional attractiveness within a female fanbase.

Rife is definitely what I’d call easy on the eyes, there’s no lie there. However, I think he deserves more recognition for his comedy. He mixes edgy and raunchy jokes with relatable material and personal anecdotes to create the perfect recipe for good comedy. Rife often throws a pretty controversial joke in the first few minutes of the segment like he does in “Natural Selection,” in order to “test the waters” and “see if y’all are still fun.” This is a regular bit for him as he’s seen doing it in several clips from shows online.

One thing that makes Rife like many other comedians is his fair share of controversial jokes that some sensitive audience members may not like. It’s people like these that look for any way to cancel newly-popular micro celebrities. That being said, it’s also fair to say some of his jokes do take it too far.

Rife opened up his most recent comedy special with a joke about domestic violence which is now facing an enormous amount of backlash online. Simply typing his name into a Google taskbar prompts “matt rife controversy” as one of the top searches.

In response to the controversy, Rife issued a mock apology on his Instagram that stated “If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told, here’s a link to my official apology,” then a link that said “Tap to solve the issue.” The link led viewers to a health website where they could purchase special needs helmets, further angering fans.

Another thing worth noting is that it’s the female demographic of fans that pushed Rife into the spotlight. The comedian mentioned in an interview with Variety that his recent special is aimed more toward a male audience, while his social media videos often cater to a more female audience. It’s great that he’s trying to expand his audience, but it’s important that he remembers where he came from, as many are arguing on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Obviously this isn’t a good look, but I’d argue that comedy is a tough industry and every comedian comes under fire once in a while by making a joke that upsets someone somewhere. He addresses a lot of dark topics in his routines, and I think for a lot of people, trying to laugh through painful discussion topics is a good way to cope or even heal.

Overall, despite some edgy jokes, I really enjoy Rife’s comedy. His recent special, however, was a little boring. I found Rife after stumbling upon a few viral videos on my TikTok feed, and was attracted to his crowd work more than anything else. His ability to make up puns on his feet while interacting with individuals in the audience was hilarious and unpredictable, which captivated my attention.

His recent special, however, mocks several different groups, most importantly his “haters” online who question his abilities as a comedian. His closing line references the joke that he only does crowd work in an attempt to debunk the hearsay, but the special honestly proved that he’s simply better at crowd work than stand-alone standup.

I’m not a regular comedy fan and I really don’t know much about stars in the industry — with that being said — as an everyday viewer, I find the crowd work way more entertaining. Regardless of which form of comedy he chooses to pursue, Rife’s openness with his fans is what really makes him relatable. He’s been open about his struggles with depression and anxiety, even working them into his routines.

The comedian is selling out shows all over the country for his ProbleMATTic World Tour, with tickets for all dates selling out in a matter of 48 hours and Netflix calling it a “Taylor-Swift-worthy Ticketmaster presale crash.”

Rife isn’t just a rising star; he’s a comedian who’s turning controversy into comedy gold, proving that even in the “ProbleMATTic”  world of standup, laughter remains the best medicine.

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A.J. Newth, Opinion Editor

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    Paul StanbrookFeb 24, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    Maybe made raunchy comedy popular again, he’s not the first to do what he does won’t be the last, Matt is a great comic and I find him hilarious but his brand of comedy is not for everyone, the ad thing is he is coming up in cancel culture era , other comics before him didn’t have it as bad. The more people get pissed at him the stronger he will become, he has huge fan base. Maybe he can break cancel culture attitude

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  • J

    Jakob John ChildsFeb 7, 2024 at 2:46 pm

    This man really is the funniest I was just at his show and he was hilarious actually bright the woman’s baby up on stage asking WTF why would you bring a baby to the show it was the funniest show I’ve seen in a long time I def recommend going to see him or but his shows online

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  • J

    Joyce EavesFeb 5, 2024 at 2:35 am

    Great comedy….really love this picture…you can see that he really loves his life..

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  • K

    Kelly JandronFeb 4, 2024 at 3:59 pm

    Cannot wait! My daughter and I are going this Friday in Detroit. We are traveling from the upper peninsula of michigan!

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  • C

    CharleneFeb 3, 2024 at 4:45 pm

    Yes. He is easy on the eyes, but Matt Rife is IS a funny comedian! His crowd-work is hilarious! Let’s give him a chance to see “more” of what he can do with a large audience as a stand up comedian. I bet he will CRUSH! I’m STILL trying to get tickets for your ProbleMaTTic Tour! You go, Matt!

    Reply
  • C

    CheryFeb 2, 2024 at 11:35 pm

    I love seeing the young ladies try to seduce him. Well ladies and men.

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  • B

    Becky MorganFeb 2, 2024 at 6:36 pm

    Saw him live before his Netflix special. Great entertainer!

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    Pamela miller NewbanksFeb 1, 2024 at 6:23 pm

    He is great. They are jokes. He also is motivational.

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  • J

    June HaasFeb 1, 2024 at 1:51 pm

    Excellent entertainer

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    • B

      barryFeb 17, 2024 at 7:57 am

      Fantastic comedian

      Reply