Matt Rife Is Such A Great Comic That He Needs Jordan Peterson to Explain Why He’s Funny
Matt Rife is in the dog house with his mostly female fanbase, so, to save his career, he’s asking for help from a figure who earned massive online success without a single woman fan – Jordan Peterson.
Just weeks ago, Rife commanded one of the largest and most fervent following of women in the online comedy community. With his (possibly literally) sculpted jawline, his impressive physique and his enthusiasm for suggestive interactions with fans, Rife was equally beloved by Gen Z girls as he was by their mothers and grandmothers. However, in his debut Netflix special, Natural Selection, which skyrocketed to the top of the charts upon its November 10th release, Rife made a deliberate effort to distance himself from the pretty boy persona that turned off many male comedy fans from taking the Ohio-born social media star seriously. Rife infamously opened the special with a “Nothing, you already told her twice”-esque joke about domestic violence, which sparked media controversy and blowback from women in his fandom who felt betrayed by his sudden and intentional heel-turn towards insipid, unoriginal dude-bro comedy.
Over the weekend, Rife appeared on the podcast of a popular figure in the manosphere, a corner of the outrage-driven internet where Rife clearly believes he belongs. Peterson, an author, commentator and psychologist who represents the pseudo-intellectual spearhead of the alt-right’s culture warriors, embraced Rife for refusing to back down to his detractors by sarcastically posting an “apology” with a link to a special-needs helmet store. Peterson described Rife’s reaction to his critics as a “witty, fast, brave and appropriate response to the situation” – and you can tell that Peterson really believes that Rife is hilarious by how his assessment of the joke has the seriousness of a eulogy.
“I thought the joke was funny – risky, and funny – and I thought your response was dead on,” Peterson told Rife with a stern scowl splashed across his face. The controversial conservative commentator declared that Rife had been “canceled,” using the comic’s situation as a microcosm for the issues of censorship and sensitivity that Peterson has spent the last decade complaining about on the internet. While describing Rife as a profoundly persecuted martyr, Peterson called the controversy a “tempest in a teapot” and wished that Rife’s “idiot accusers” would all pass away and “spend eternity in hell composed of nothing but people like them talking to them.”
Rife said of his controversial opening bit on Natural Selection, “It’s a modern twist on an old joke,” claiming, “I wanted to put my own spin on it” – with “it” being the tired copy/pasted gag where a woman is beaten and a man says that she deserved it for failing some household duty, sometimes calling her a broken down dishwasher. Rife characterized his style as “high risk, high reward,” a point with which Peterson emphatically agreed on the grounds that the woke mob now wages war on the comic as the result of the courageous risks he takes. At the time of publication, Natural Selection is still streaming on Netflix and Rife is not imprisoned for charges of being too provocative.
Of course, the real problem with the bit that Rife and Peterson dissected with all the humor and playfulness of a deposition is self-evident by the comic’s failure to inspire so much as a smile from his host – the joke just wasn't funny. Much like Rife’s ensuing promotional tour on the alt-right podcast circuit, Natural Selection was a cynical attempt to rebrand Rife as a “guy’s guy” comic worthy of the grift that Peterson and his fellow podcasters in the comedy world continue to exploit for massive financial gain. Whether onstage or on Peterson’s show, Rife’s problem is that he isn’t trying to make people laugh – he’s trying to pander to a specific group whom he sees as his path to greater success than he had with his former female following.
At no point was this more obvious than when Peterson asked Rife why he reached out to the alt-right psychologist to organize an appearance on the show. Rife replied, “I’m a huge fan, man. Listen, you and I have never met, and I’ll be truthfully honest, I haven’t done extensive research into everything you’ve done. But I find you to be a very kind man, and very well spoken, and someone who stands on their morals and the realism of society today. And I think that is incredibly rare.” Despite being a “huge fan,” Rife couldn’t even be bothered to do his research about his host while maneuvering to access his platform of potential “you just can’t joke about anything nowadays” comedy fans. Rife’s move to appear on Peterson’s podcast stinks like another lazy, calculated attempt to earn the aesthetic of edginess without doing any of the intellectual work to actually push boundaries.
For that reason, I fully expect the scheme to pay off and for Peterson fans to rally behind Rife in his new phase as the most popular incel-adjacent comic in podcasting. Peterson can teach Rife plenty about pandering to angry, lonely men on the internet, even if he can’t connect to Rife’s past of ever once enjoying the affection of women.