Stand-up comic Matt Rife stirred up controversy with his debut Netflix special, Natural Selection — and the 28-year-old comedian didn’t take the criticism without some pushback of his own.
The joke in question comes toward the beginning of his set, in which he tells a story about being in a restaurant in Baltimore and was greeted by a hostess who had a black eye.
“I’ve only been to Baltimore one time. I ate lunch there, and the hostess who, like, seats you at the restaurant had a black eye. A full black eye. And it wasn’t like, ‘What happened?’ It was pretty obvious what happened,” Rife says in the special. “We couldn’t get over the fact. We’re like, ‘This is the face of the company? This is who you have greeting people?'”
“My boy who I was with was like, ‘Yeah, I feel bad for her. I feel like they should put her in the kitchen or something where nobody has to see her face, ya know?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but I feel like if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye,'” Rife jokes, to the laughter of his Washington, D.C., audience.
Rife then downplays the joke, explaining to the audience that he was “just testing the waters, seeing if y’all are gonna be fun or not.”
“I figure we start the show with domestic violence, then the rest of the show should be pretty smooth sailing after that,” Rife adds.
The special began generating backlash upon its release on Nov. 15, and Rife took to his Instagram Story on Monday to address critics of his jokes.
“If you’ve ever been offended by a joke I’ve told, here’s a link to my official apology,” he wrote, directing people to a health and medical equipment website selling helmets designed for use by people with special needs.
Of course, the insulting faux-apology generated a new wave of criticism.
Meanwhile, many others remarked on how the backlash was simply generating more press and publicity for his special.
Rife commented on the success of Natural Selection on his Instagram Story as well, sharing a screenshot of the Netflix homepage, where his special is currently trending in the top spot of new content.
While the special may be pulling in viewers, Natural Selection has been roundly panned, with an audience score of 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.