‘Matt Rife: Natural Selection’ Review: Netflix Stand-Up Toes The Line Between Logic And ProbleMATTic


There is something about Matt Rife. A Netflix special from him is a dream come true for his fans more than it is for him. Matt Rife: Natural Selection is one of those rare comedy specials that just doesn’t let your mind wander anywhere else, and it is worth questioning why. The comedian calls his tour and himself ‘ProbleMATTic,’ but he wouldn’t be the first one. It is a given that comedians will push boundaries and make jokes that are inappropriate or outrageous. It is a huge part of engaging with the audience. But what makes Matt Rife different is the way he treats his time on stage as a living room conversation.

It would be delusional to think or deny that in closed spaces with friends and families, there is no indulgence in the ‘unwoke’ part of us. It is not done because of a lack of social awareness, but there is also no justifiable reason for these words to be spoken behind closed doors. It is just something that happens. The only difference is that in a larger group of people, these opinions (or jokes or funny statements, whatever you want to call them) are held back because there is an acknowledgment of the harm they can cause. But Matt Rife doesn’t care about that, and he treats an audience full of hundreds of people as if they were his buddies in his drawing room, with whom he could say anything he wanted, and it would be okay because they know that he is not actually a bad person, to begin with. There is no point in questioning why that is because it is simply his style. But before anything, we have to address whether it is harmful or not.

First of all, Matt Rife is not asking anyone to agree with him. If you have seen his previous specials (mostly on YouTube), you know that Matt Rife sets out to provoke, and he neither hides it nor is subtle about it. Secondly, we have to question the nature of his insults, which is the basis for his comedy. Matt Rife doesn’t spare anyone, from the handicapped to the neurodivergent to Rosa Parks herself. But in those insults, is he targeting them for their position in society or for the state of their being? When he makes a joke about his autistic nephew, is he making fun of autism or its struggles, or is he just trying to make light of a situation by making an absurd comparison? In another special of his, he makes fun of handicapped people, and once again, we were forced to consider the treatment of that joke. Was he making fun of the person’s value in society or the struggles he faced on a daily basis, with the objective of normalizing them?

In Matt Rife: Natural Selection, when he talks about Rosa Parks, was he making fun of the stand she took and her struggle, or was he simply pointing out a ridiculous statement from another man? It may look a little murky because this is a straight, white, and very good-looking man making these jokes on stage. If only he had been born into generational wealth, he would have been at the top tier of society with all of its arbitrary hierarchies. We believe that Matt Rife is aware of the optics of the situation. In fact, he uses them as added ammunition to his intention to provoke. And that is why we will never take offense at him because we refuse to take the bait. We will simply not because that makes us the exact kind of person he is making fun of.

Finally, we cannot help but address the fatphobic joke that Matt Rife made at the end of his comedy special. There is no excuse for it, but here is our point: when did Matt Rife even say that he was a paragon of virtue? He is extremely clear that the content is going to be problematic, and he even gave a disclaimer before the joke that this incident comes from his ‘defensive’ side and whatnot. Why would we be offended by him when he is clear about the content he is selling, especially when he is not even justifying it but simply stating that this is the kind of person he is? The offense is wasted in this situation.

There is no doubt that Matt Rife: Natural Selection is a funny show. Again, if it is not inappropriate, it is not funny, and Matt Rife knows what he is doing. We love how he said that he was ‘dead inside’ and then went ahead to prove it with his jokes throughout his entire career. He is one of the few people who can convince us that he doesn’t care, and whether he likes to hear it or not, that stubbornness is so classic for Virgos. They always have their pulse on the vibe of the place and the people, which means that they either care a lot or not at all. Usually, it is a transition, but our main point is that it was so obvious how in tune with the audience Matt Rife was. He knew how to address them without them talking and also to acknowledge the difference between the reactions of the different kinds of fans. Overall, the man has been fighting for his dream for twelve years, and he has learned to be secure in his craft, which is also what he preaches in a rare moment.

Fans will not miss this special at any cost, but for the non-fans or the haters, this is still an essential watch. It is not because this will make you laugh out loud or because he says things that no one else could. Matt Rife: Natural Selection is unmissable because, in many ways, it is a lesson in applying logic to offense. Matt Rife has not asked anyone to do that, but it is undeniable that this irrefutable logic is what gives him the confidence to simply focus on what he wants to do without caring for others’ opinions. That is another Virgo trait, if we may add. Hopefully, Matt Rife will continue being his authentic self and read some Linda Goodman about his sun sign.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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