If you’ve been seeing the name “Matt Rife” all over your Twitter timeline on Tuesday, you’re not alone. Fans of the comedian are expressing a litany of sorrow at their failure to secure tickets to his upcoming tour, citing Taylor Swift–level mayhem on Ticketmaster. Much to the surprise of bystanders watching Rife’s fans melt down on social media, he’s not the next coming of Prince, Michael Jackson, or any other musician. Rife is just a comedian. Yep, a comedian you’ve never heard of has created the latest Ticketmaster clusterfuck. Read on to flip over the rock you may have been living under, and learn more about the latest funny guy to become a thirst target on Al Gore’s internet.
OK, I’m sorry … am I supposed to know who Matt Rife is?
Only if you’re cool and totally in the know and obsessively spend maybe too much time on TikTok or Instagram. Matt Rife is a 27-year-old comedian from Ohio who started doing standup when he was 15 and got his break after he was cast as a recurring member of the Nick Cannon–created improv hip-hop comedy show Wild ’N Out in 2015. You may remember him as the cast member who awkwardly hit on Zendaya when she was the show’s guest star of the week and who will never live it down. He was frequently on that show for a couple of years before taking a break in 2017 for a short co-hosting stint on MTV’s reboot of TRL and an appearance on the network’s popular competition show The Challenge. He then returned to Wild ’N Out for a couple of episodes in 2021 and self-produced a couple of comedy specials, but now he’s most known for blowing up on TikTok, where he posts clips of his standup sets, which average tens of millions of views, to his over 14 million followers.
I can’t help but notice that, between the time of the Zendaya video and now, he …
… got incredibly hot?
You’re not wrong! From Season 7 to Season 9 of Wild ’N Out alone, you can see he, in the words of our prophet Cardi B, “got a bag and fixed his teeth.” Now this jacked, blue-eyed, curly-haired hottie is out here making jokes about having sex with your mom … and, as you can see from the bit, he might even FaceTime you from the stage to tell you about it. Not to be cynical, but I’m sure his looks have helped with his social media success: It’s nice to be funny, and it’s nice to be hot, but it’s incredibly lucky to be both. He even dated Kate Beckinsale.
Yep, he dated the English actress, who is twice his age, for about a year in 2017. Their relationship must’ve been less than perfect (in his words, “it was complicated”) because, in 2019, via a comment he made to a reporter from TMZ, Rife told Pete Davidson, who began a relationship with Beckinsale that year, to “run”—then revised that advice to, simply, “be careful.”
OK, so he’s hot, and you say he’s funny—
He is! Or, at least, I think he can be. In particular, his crowd work (which is primarily what he features on his social media) is great. It’s rare that I’d greenlight a Black History joke from a white guy, but I ended up sending this one to all of my friends. Most of the comedy he posts on TikTok revolves around sex, dating, and relationships. Usually, he’ll start by soliciting the dating history of someone, or a couple in the crowd, and will let them tell their story as he folds jokes into the responses. Sometimes his topics take the occasional detour, like to discuss ghost stories or someone’s profession—though, even then, he tends to bring things back to sex. He’s quick on his feet, with really strong confidence in his ability to turn any audience member’s experience into a punchline.
All of that being said, plenty of people are making the joke that he’s just this generation’s Dane Cook—a handsome guy who looks like he lives in the gym, and who figured out how to bend the current version of the internet to his will. And while that is maybe fitting, cut us a little slack. We all gotta go through our “Dane Cook is funny” phase … right?
All right, so what’s the deal with him and Ticketmaster?
With a video that, for some reason, features Ashton Kutcher, earlier this week Rife announced his first-ever world tour, ProbleMATTic, with tickets for the first presale becoming available Tuesday morning.
Hold on! “ProbleMATTic”? He’s not one of these “brave” anti-woke comedians who make their whole show into a rant against “cancel culture,” is he? Because … zzzzz.
He hasn’t been, so far. Not really. He’s performed bits about being an ally, of sorts. He’s made a joke about how funny it is to watch white people try to out-woke one another. Though his comedy can skirt the line of being offensive, he’s an equal-opportunity roaster, as he would see it. But when people do express their offense in the comments, he is often quick to shut them down. And he did have some old tweets from 2011 and 2012, in which he used some racial and homophobic slurs and expressed anti-gay sentiments, resurface in 2016. He also misstepped on Twitter again in 2020, making a COVID-related joke about the cast of Parasite after they appeared at the Oscars. It doesn’t seem as if he ever apologized, and in some cases he doubled down. But his more recent comedy appears to be somewhat more respectful, and I wouldn’t expect ProbleMATTic to be all boring anti–“cancel culture” stuff. Or here’s hoping.
OK, so back to Ticketmaster. I can’t imagine that the demand for his show would be so high that it would cause a Ticketmaster fiasco.
Well, imagine harder. Much to everyone’s surprise, the tickets were incredibly hard to get, which caused loads of Rife fans—cleverly dubbed Rifefians by a colleague—to take to Twitter to express their disappointment at missing out on tickets. Many fans blamed Ticketmaster for pulling some of the same tricks it recently did with the sales of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, pointing to massive glitches that kicked them out of queues, losing tickets to “other fans” because the site falsely claimed them to be available, or to tickets being bought by resellers and sold at high markups. Some Rifefians even claimed that these tickets were harder to get than Taylor’s or Drake’s.
By the end, even those who did get tickets might have paid a hefty price for them: A friend of a friend secured a pair of tickets for $900—and they’re not even front-row seats. Rife has since added more shows in multiple cities. These fans must be the contingent of people who didn’t get Taylor or Beyoncé tickets, because where did you find the money? I’m not one to judge anyone’s spending habits, but it’s safe to say that people just now hearing of Matt Rife are baffled.
But I see that some Rifefians are mad at Rife too. What did he do?
For starters, he published the presale code on all of his social media accounts, which resulted in that long queue for the presale tickets. Now unlucky fans will have to wait for the general sale to get another chance to see the Justin Bieber of Comedy.
This could be seen as a heroic move. It definitely levels the playing field for fans who complain about not being lucky enough to receive a presale code. But it’s true that it means you have to be quick to be early enough in the queue that you can actually secure tickets for a high-demand show. And this heroic act looks significantly less heroic if you consider the complaints of some fans who say that his smaller shows, which they had tickets for, were canceled so that Rife could go on this tour.
I’m sorry—what? Isn’t that really unfair?
Depends on who you ask! A few fans, like Kara Nichols, said they had VIP tickets for $40, at a smaller show that was canceled for this tour, in which presale tickets allegedly ranged from $133 to as high as $400. Twitter user AMJ agreed, saying her tickets for the Tulsa show were refunded in favor of a bigger-venue tour that were difficult to get because Rife gave the presale code to the public.
Do you think all these people will get what they paid for?
While I agree Rife is funny, I wonder how his crowd work, which excels in more-intimate venues, will change at a bigger one that people paid hundreds of dollars to go to. I’m proud of him for securing that bag—it’s what I wish for most of Wild ’N Out’s cast members, people I grew up watching—but I won’t be hopping in line for this one. When some taping of the special inevitably comes out, I’ll catch the best parts on TikTok, per usual.