Matt Rife's Netflix Special and Mock ‘Apology’ to Special Needs Helmet Website Spark Domestic Violence Joke Backlash

For comedian Matt Rife, Netflix's Nov. 15 show "Natural Selection" was controversial. The program opens with a domestic violence joke. In an alleged Instagram story apology, Rife directed offended parties to a special needs helmet website.

Rife opens “Natural Selection” by recalling a friend's visit to a “ratchet” Baltimore restaurant and the female server's black eye. Why the restaurant didn't have the waiter cook to cover her black eye is questioned. Rife chuckles, “Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye.”

Rife says the joke was “just testing the waters, seeing if y’all are gonna be fun or not.” He says, “I figure if we start the show with domestic violence the rest of the show should be smooth sailing.”

Rife issued a faux apology on his Instagram account on Nov. 20 after the joke caused social media backlash after “Natural Selection” debuted.

“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told, here’s a link to my official apology,” he tweeted. “Tap to solve the issue.” When tapped, the link sent followers to a health website advertising special needs helmets. Making fun of special needs viewers angered by his domestic violence joke aggravated the issue.

After becoming a viral comedy celebrity on TikTok and other platforms, Rife's debut Netflix comedy special is "Natural Selection". Since his social media videos are mostly for women, Rife told Variety that he intended “Natural Selection” to appeal to both.

‘Oh, he just has a female following base’ is one of the major fallacies I am criticized online for. Rife said. First, I was popular on female-dominated TikTok.I understand. Concerts are 50/50. Couples visit. Men arrive in bunches. Despite what you assume online, this episode showed that I don't pander to women in my work.

He replied, “I would argue this special is way more for guys.” “I wanted to make this special for everyone. I try to make everyone laugh. Not for some people. People should try it without thinking, ‘Oh, just females like him’ or ‘people only like his face.’ Hope you enjoy it if you try.”

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