The Guy Behind MattRife.com Isn’t the Jackass You Think He Is
What if you woke up one morning to discover that you share a name with the most controversial comic on the planet? It’s happened in the past to all the non-showbiz folks named Michael Richards, Bill Maher or Roseanne Barr. And this year, the phenomenon has created a decided uptick in wayward web traffic over at mattrife.com. For the record, the site’s owner is not that Matt Rife.
“I’m (probably) not the jackass you’re looking for,” confesses Matt Rife the not-comic, blaring the clarification in large type at the top of his homepage. “If you’ve come here to yell at the comedian, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m a UX and graphic designer, and while I’m occasionally witty, I have no illusions about my comedic talent. And I certainly don’t make a living by denigrating women.”
Despite the warning, Rife’s website still gets confused for the other guy’s, despite owning the domain for nearly 20 years (and the fact that mattrife.com clearly shows off UX design capabilities, not crowd-work TikToks). “I get folks every now and then who send me fan mail,” this Matt Rife tells me. “They appear to be under the influence of something when they send the fan mail. I've gotten a couple people who thought they were being scammed and, in fact, probably were.”
How would such a scam work? One email Rife received was from a man who wrote, “I was speaking online supposedly to you. … I ask for an easy roast of my wife of 32 years, and the other side said they would think about it. Then I received a notice from him/them that an additional $500 fee was involved called ticket external fee. After spending $1,500 for tickets, I became suspicious.” So yeah, there are shady versions of “Matt Rife” out there as well.
Things get into weirder territory when the comic’s fans track down Rife’s personal email and phone number. “I had one dude text me at 7:30 in the morning and tell me how great I was,” Rife explains. “I’m like, ‘I appreciate the sentiment but maybe 1) don’t stalk people’s phone numbers; and 2) don’t do it at 7:30 in the morning.”
While Matt Rife the comic blew up in 2023, Matt Rife the graphic designer has been dealing with this confusion for years. “The first time I heard about him was on social media when he was 17 years old,” he tells me. “So it’s been like 10 years. I knew he was out there. But the last year and a half, it’s really gotten crazy.”
And yet, despite Rife the comic’s presence in his life, Rife the graphic artist hasn’t watched too much of his namesake’s comedy. “I’ve seen a few short clips here and there,” he says. “But I’m not as into stand-up comedy as I used to be, and honestly, his style isn’t really what I'm interested in. Mostly other people keep me up-to-date. I have a few friends who will send me clips, but I still haven’t seen a lot of it. I knew about the opening joke (in his Netflix special about domestic violence), and I guess it doesn’t get any better from there.”
Are there any positives to sharing that famous name? Rife’s web traffic “has gone up over the past six to nine months,” a phenomenon that hasn’t led directly to design work but “one can hope,” he says. “More visibility oftentimes helps.”
And maybe he’s sitting on a goldmine. Wouldn’t Matt Rife the comic want to purchase the mattrife.com domain? “Someone contacted me earlier in the year. I presume it was either him or his people, although the intermediary never confirmed that,” he says. But he’s not enthusiastic about selling a domain that would mean disentangling nearly 20 years of personal and business emails, as well as everything else wrapped up in a longstanding site. Sure, Rife would sell for the right price, but he also has his conditions, including asking the go-betweens to confirm they were actually working on behalf of the comic. (Again, they never verified.) “I was a little bit concerned that I was selling this domain to someone who was selling crypto scams or something that was defrauding people,” he explains. “I really don’t want to do that.”
So it sounds like mattrife.com is going to stay with the UX designer for the foreseeable future. And heck, sharing a name with a famous comedian at least has to be amusing, right?
“Well, I’m not amused,” he confesses. “I worry about about some of the possible knock-on effects.” Some of those by-products are annoying but harmless, like every UPS Store clerk asking you, “Hey, did you know there’s a comedian…?” He’ll also go to an appointment and sense the disappointment in the dental hygienist’s expression when it’s not that Matt Rife showing up for an annual checkup.
But it’s also fans hitting up your personal email and phone number to beg for tickets and personal VIP packages. Rife gets offers for charter plane service with “simple pay-as-you-go pricing.” And the situation has made Rife rethink things like ordering food. While the comic has fervent fans, he’s also developed a large community of haters. “So I sometimes think maybe I should use a pseudonym so somebody doesn’t spit in my burger.”
This Matt Rife has never heard from the comedian and he’s more than okay with that. “I don’t think he and I have a lot to talk about. I’m quite sure I don’t really share a lot of views with him,” Rife says, noting the comic’s recent podcast appearance with Jordan Peterson. “He seems like he’s heading down that alt-right path, and that's not something I want to be associated with, frankly.”
But just because the two Matt Rifes won’t be getting together for the holidays doesn’t mean the mattrife.com owner doesn’t have a New Year’s message for the comedian and his propensity to find himself in trouble for provocative jokes and social media posts. “This is my personal belief,” Rife offers to his counterpart. “When you’re in a hole, put the shovel down.”