The clip comes from a 2015 episode of MTV’s “Wild ’N Out” in which a group of comedians take turns trying to make the former Disney star laugh hard enough to spit out water she’s holding in her mouth.
The clip that’s gained attention online includes Rife’s turn, in which he decides to hit on the actor, who later starred in “Spider-Man” and “Euphoria,” rather than come up with a joke.
“Look, you’re mixed, I wanna be Black, let’s make a lifestyle movie,” Rife says to Zendaya in the clip.
When Zendaya failed to laugh, Rife decided to get way more aggressive. He walked toward Zendaya, grabbed her by the chin and shouted:
“Spit that water out so I can get your number, please!”
Zendaya appeared shocked and repulsed by Rife touching her face. With the water still in her mouth and unable to speak, she raised her arm, pointed her index finger at Rife and wagged it in a “no” gesture.
Rife’s fellow comedians launched into Zendaya’s defense.
“Keep your hands off her, man!” one yelled at Rife.
“Don’t be touching her like that!” another comedian snapped.
In a retrospective video posted a few years after the episode, one the comedians reflected on the situation by elaborating on how hard Rife “bombed” at the time.
“That was definitely a bomb, not only a bomb for the audience, but everybody on the cast was like: ‘Woah, chill man.’”
The unearthed clip comes in the wake of Rife’s ableist and unoriginal reaction to backlash he received for opening his new Netflix special, “Natural Selection,” with a domestic abuse joke. It also seems to confirm Rife’s critics who say the most offensive thing about the comedian’s dated sense of humor is that he expects today’s audiences to find it fresh.
“Yall just realizing Matt Rife isn’t funny?” an X user posted on the former Twitter platform. “Do yall not remember when he was on Wild n Out and completely creeped out Zendaya?? mans a whole ick.”
“Was never funny just conventionally attractive,” another user posted alongside the clip of Rife hitting on Zendaya. “So y’all was out here, haha-ing at his bits that other comedians have done better, & his lame attempts at being edgy.”’