On Wednesday, Netflix released the comedy special “Matt Rife: Natural Selection.” The set, which was brimming with antiquated cracks masquerading as offensively edgy jokes, included a misogynistic bit about domestic abuse that swiftly drew criticism on social media.
Rife set up the joke by talking about a “ratchet” restaurant in Baltimore.
“I’ve only been to Baltimore one time. I ate lunch there, and the hostess who seats you at the restaurant had a black eye,” Rife began.
“A full black eye. It wasn’t like, ‘What happened?’ It was pretty obvious what happened,” he said in his special, which was filmed in Washington, D.C.
“We couldn’t get over the fact, like, this is the face of the company? This is who you have greeting people?”
Rife then joked that his friend said the restaurant should “put her in the kitchen so nobody has to see her face.” Rife responded to his friend’s comment by saying:
“I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye.”
Being that the year is currently 2023 and not 1923, most people on social media found the quip to be pretty pathetic and incredibly stale. Others questioned why a comedian whose fan base consists mostly of young women would open with this kind of insensitive joke.
Rife decided to respond to the “hate” in an Instagram Story on Monday night. The post includes an image of Rife performing on stage with overlaying text that reads: “If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told — here’s a link to my official apology.”
The link leads viewers to a website that sells helmets to protect against seizures, head trauma and head banging.
People were equally annoyed with the response.
“If he was upset that people were offended by his jokes, he could have just not said something,” TikTok user Samantha Fekete said in a video that received over 5 million views.
Rife’s “apology” joke itself was about as fresh as an overused Porta Potty because it was recycled from his own comedy special.
About 16 minutes into his routine, Rife begins telling a story about a kid named Alex who was in his high school gym class. According to Rife, although Alex was disabled, “God always finds a way of evening things out,” and therefore, Alex was “blessed” with a huge penis.
“People felt sorry for him,” Rife says. “But I was, like, nah, ’Fuck that dude! He’s been terrorizing us in the locker room the whole semester!”
He went on: “He’s got us all backed up against the lockers. It’s, like, ‘Goddamn, Alex! That’s where the extra chromosome goes?’”
But Rife asserted that despite Alex’s intimidating appendage, he was the “nicest person I’ve ever met” and said he hopes he’s doing well.
“I hope he’s out there hurting somebody right now, I really do,” Rife said before pausing for applause.
“She needs the helmet,” Rife then said of whoever Alex’s partner is today. “They don’t always know their own strength.”
What makes Rife’s hackneyed helmet joke especially pathetic is that it’s awfully similar to a bit in comedian Ralphie May’s 2006 special, “Girth of a Nation.” In the special, May tells a story about a disabled kid he went to school with named Rusty who had such a huge penis that his peers gave him a helmet to protect himself from it. May also jokes that Rusty’s massive member was also a blessing from God.
“Lord giveth, Lord taketh away,” May joked about Rusty’s flaws and gifts.
Despite their similarities, it’s unclear if Rife actually stole this bit from May. But what is clear is that if you don’t particularly like tired jokes about fatphobia, sexism, ableism and lots and lots of dicks, maybe take a hard pass on Rife’s special.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.