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Matt Rife's Netflix Special Natural Selection Review | Spoiler-Free

Matt Rife’s Netflix Special “Natural Selection” Catapults Him to the Top of Comedy

by A Guest Contributor

Comedian Matt Rife dropped his first network special, “Natural Selection,” on Nov. 15. In addition to it skyrocketing to the top of the Netflix view chart, it has catapulted Rife to the top of the comedy world and possibly all of entertainment.

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Matt Rife’s Netflix Special “Natural Selection” Catapults Him to the Top of Comedy

This special is, well, special. It has all the hallmarks of a Rife comedy routine. It has a quick wit, boundary-pushing jokes and personal stories that have made fans, including myself, feel like we know Rife on a personal level.

Whether it’s ghosts, red flags or awkward moments in life, the young veteran comic keeps us entertained, thinking and, most importantly, laughing. What is different with this special is it is void of the crowd work that has launched Rife to the top of TikTok, YouTube and other social feeds.

With the amount of clips put out by Rife and mostly his fans, it would be shocking not to have seen him if you spend any time on social media. Rife’s crowd work takes a small interaction with a fan and turns it into a bit that even the best comedy writers couldn’t do better. Even in the worst of situations, from a fan overdosing on the balcony to one having a fan having a seizure in the front row, Rife can handle it with grace and class and yet turn it into comedy all while not offending anyone.

Rife new special is not the first one he has done. It’s just his first one on a major platform. Rife has previously self-produced and released three other specials on YouTube. Those specials feature a mix of written material as well as crowd work. While, at times, these other specials might induce more laughs from an uninformed crowd, those who have followed Rife over the past few months or years will realize the importance of this special.

A Natural Turning Point

This special is a turning point in Rife’s career. Netflix saw enough in him to give him a special and put it out at a time of year when plenty of people are taking time off for the holidays and streaming content. It’s impressive he was able to put together a special this quickly.

Comedians typically do one special a year at most. Rife’s last special “Walking Red Flag,” came out just four months ago. Just three months before that was his special “Matthew Steven Rife.” Only one year ago was his first special, “Only Fans.” All three are unique but hold some of the same themes and keystones that Rife is known for.

Those things still hold true in “Natural Selection,” found exclusively on Netflix. Rife is open about his life, family and journey. He has the ability to bring the crowd and viewers in so that they feel a sense of comfort, only to have the punch line come from the side. It’s a bold, direct comedy style, mixed with subtle lines and facial expressions that convey the humor. “Natural Selection” keeps you engaged and laughing all while taking you on a journey.

Breaking Stereotypes

What is also important about this special is what it represents in Rife’s career. It stretches the preconceived notions that fans, critics and media have of Rife.

This is nothing new for the 28-year-old comedian. Rife has had to fight past the stigma of being the young token white guy on MTV’s popular show “Wild ’N Out,” which predominantly features black comedians. It was the first sign of his ability to not only think on his feet but also adapt and read a room. It also showed his broad appeal. He then had to fight past those who had just looked at him and saw a young, good-looking kid. He had to show them that he was more than just looks. He had the writing and delivery to command the stage at any local comedy club.

This special does that. It sets Rife on a trajectory to be a major name in the comedy industry for the next 40 years. This was Rife kicking down the door to mainstream audiences, proving that he should be in the conversation of best comedians working right now – up there with the likes of Jo Koy, Dave Chappel, Bert Kreisher, Jim Gaffigan and Nate Bargatze.

I fully believe 30 years down the road, we will look back at this special like we do Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious,” Robin Williams’ “Night at the Met” or Bert Kriesher’s “ Machine.” It’s the special we will look back on and wish we were there live. The night that everything changed – the moment when a true comedy powerhouse was unveiled.

No Quit in the Kid From Colombus, Ohio

The world is now Matt Rife’s oyster. He can do anything he wants. He can do movies or TV if he wishes. He is already an amazing podcast guest, which I’m sure keeps his schedule full on top of his nonstop sold-out tour. If he chose to start his own, it would easily be one of the fastest-growing podcasts across all platforms.

This special was 90 minutes of Rife showing he is more than just crowd work that should be digested in short TikTok clips. This special showed the world that he can be a more traditional stand-up comedian all while still connecting with the crowd and making everyone in person and watching feel like they know him as a friend.

He now has a massive audience who will come out in force to stream his content. Enough so that this special was No. 1 on the U.S., Canadian and Australian most-watched list within a day. Rife is a mega star in the making.

You can catch Rife on his current ProbleMATTic world tour, which has U.S. dates from now until September 2024, with short stops in Australia and Canada, before heading to Europe next fall. Rife is selling out everywhere he goes. He connects with all demographics and all age groups. White collar, blue collar or no collar, they all seem to love Matt Rife. He’s selling out shows from the West Coast to the East Coast, down south and in the Midwest, where Rife is originally from.

Rife’s star is shining right now and “Natural Selection” just amplifies his reach.

And you thought he just did crowd work.

For more entertainment content, check out our other blogs here at In-Between Media (IBT).

This column was submitted by Dustin Ludke.

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