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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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Matt Rife is offensively unfunny

Dark humor isn’t the issue — the comedian delivering the joke is

Comedian Matt Rife is receiving backlash for an inappropriate joke about domestic violence that he made during the launch of his new Netflix special, “Natural Selection,” earlier this month. 

As Rife told it, he was in a “ratchet” restaurant in Baltimore when he saw a waitress with a black eye. His punchline? “Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye.”

After immense disapproval of his joke flooded social media, the comedian posted an “apology” on his Instagram account’s public story. Viewers who clicked the link thinking they would see Rife taking accountability for his offensive comments instead found themselves on a website selling products described as “special needs helmets.” 

Rife has also claimed the joke was meant to “test the waters” with his audience, to see whether or not the crowd was “fun.”

The dark context of Rife’s joke isn’t the issue — and it isn’t the reason the majority of audience members, specifically women, were offended. 

The first real problem is the “comedian” making the joke.

Rife has no public or apparent history of being a domestic violence victim. If a man or woman who had personally experienced the horrors of domestic violence had made their experience the context of their punchlines, the joke would be a lot easier to swallow.

But Matt Rife isn’t performing with any black eyes. 

Matt Rife didn’t use his platform to spread awareness about the over one in three women who experience domestic violence in the U.S. at some point in their lifetime. 

Instead of making fun of the people who are worthless enough to commit a crime, to give a woman a black eye, he targeted women who have fallen victim to domestic violence. 

That’s the second issue with his joke — the people who were the punchline. 

Even if his jokes didn’t specifically offend every audience member, Rife’s decision to open fire on an already marginalized community shows a lack of comedic understanding. It’s unimpressive to pick low-hanging fruit, and it’s also a huge middle finger to his woman-dominated fanbase.

On top of everything else, instead of taking accountability and learning from his mistakes, Rife added fuel to the fire with his ableist follow-up.  

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And if you just aren’t funny, stay out of comedy. 

Kayla Estrada is a senior news editor and can be reached at  

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Kayla Estrada is the opinion editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.  



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