These Facts About Matt Rife Are Just Sad

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of suicide and mental health difficulties.

If you're not familiar with Matt Rife, odds are that you haven't been introduced to the hilarious world of TikTok comedians. Countless funny stars have gotten their start on the app, including the ever-relatable Elyse Myers and the adorable comedy duo Darcy & Jer, and it's clear that social media has led to them becoming viral sensations. Now, with Rife's incredible following on TikTok having just surpassed the 18 million mark, and the Netflix special, "Matt Rife: Natural Selection," released in 2023, everyone is internet sleuthing to find out everything there is to know about the social media star.

He's practically become an overnight sensation, but a lot of the comedian's fame can be attributed to his controversial on-stage persona and recent scandals, leading many to call for his cancellation. Rife has brazenly tested the waters with jokes that some think have crossed the line, and while many currently view him as an unsympathetic figure, few know his tragic backstory. From the deaths of his father and grandfather to his difficult upbringing and struggles with mental health, these facts about Matt Rife's life are heartbreaking.

Matt Rife's father died by suicide when he was a baby

When Matt Rife was just a year old, tragedy struck and he experienced his first brush with death after his father died by suicide. Although the comedian didn't have the opportunity to spend much time with his father, it's clear that he still had an impact on Rife's life. In a 2017 Instagram post, the TikTok star posted a Father's Day tribute to his late dad with a caption that read, "Love and miss you everyday, wondering how different things would've been if you were still here. Regardless God had it planned unfairly, but it's only made me stronger as a man."

In April 2022, the comedian sat down with Bert Kreischer for an interview on "Bertcast" and spoke about what it feels like to now have surpassed his dad's age. "He was 20. ... It's weird to think about. I'm 26 now and when you think about your dad, no matter what stage, you think of like, a grown man. But ... I'm older than my dad ever was," he said. Rife went on to explain that he believes his father was depressed and had a strained living situation when he ended his own life. While it's a tragic story, Rife thankfully still has his mother to rely on for support.

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He had a difficult upbringing

There have been many successful comedians who have faced adversity, including Matt Rife, who had a difficult childhood after his father died. When he was 5 years old, his mom remarried and, according to the comedian, his new stepdad wasn't a very good person. In speaking on the "Sharp Tongue" podcast in February 2021, Rife remarked, "You know the stereotypical, like movie stepdad, where it's like white trailer trash, alcoholic, abusive, stepdad? I ended up with one of those for like, 16 years."

In addition to a tough home life, Rife's hometown of North Lewisburg, Ohio left him with very little chance of making it as a comedian. While on "Brandon's Comedy Bomb Show" in October 2020, he said, "[I thought that] if I don't leave and go to L.A., I'm just going to stay in Ohio, get somebody pregnant, then graduate high school and then work at the Honda plant, like everybody else where I'm from."

Thankfully, Rife was presented with the opportunity to perform stand-up when he was 14 for the school's talent show, and just a year later, he was on stage doing real sets. His passion for comedy and ability to buckle down and do what he needed to succeed led him out to Los Angeles, and led him to become one of the most-watched comedians on TikTok.

Matt Rife struggles with insecurity

Just looking at Matt Rife, it's hard to imagine that he could ever feel insecure about his looks. Often referred to as the "hot" comedian on TikTok, fans have been eager to make their adoration known. And while there has been online speculation that Rife has had plastic surgery, particularly lip and cheek fillers, he has vehemently denied all of the rumors.

However, Rife has admitted to getting work done on his teeth to quell an insecurity that used to plague the young comedian. Speaking on the "Cancelled with Tana Mongeau" podcast in June 2023, he explained, "The only thing I've ever done is my teeth. I got veneers, obviously, because my teeth were f***ed when I was a kid."

In a November 2023 interview with Vogue, Rife addressed the dilemma he's faced when asked about how good-looking he is. "Whenever it comes to my looks, what am I supposed to say? If I talk about it, I'm conceited, right? Me, personally? I don't feel like I'm a good-looking person, and nobody ever believes that. I have so many insecurities about my physicality, it is insane," he stated. Rife added that attractive comedians tend to be taken less seriously, something he views as a downside of his new "heartthrob" status.

His mentor and fellow comedian Ralphie May died

Ralphie May is an iconic comedian, best known for his time on "Last Comic Standing" and many of his comedy specials. Tragically, on October 6, 2017, he died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease in the middle of his stand-up tour at just 45 years old. May undoubtedly served as a role model for Matt Rife, as he explained during his interview on "Podcrushed" in November 2023 that he viewed him "like a big brother."

As it turns out, Rife may have a lot to thank the late comedian for, including where he is today professionally. When the young Ohio native was just 15, he had been a fan of May and reached out to him on Twitter to ask if he could do a guest spot. Rife received the go-ahead and was granted the life-changing opportunity to get paid to perform at May's gig. Later, the two went on tour together, allowing Rife to begin making money as a professional comedian. He continued, "He was such a good mentor. ... Not only was he gracious enough to put money in my pocket and gift me with stage time, but he really looked after me and gave me a lot of advice."

His grandfather's death hit him hard

Matt Rife has often spoken about his love for his maternal grandfather Steve, so when he died in November 2022, Rife was devastated. In a heartbreaking tribute on Instagram to his late grandfather, the young comedian wrote, "If I've ever made you laugh — it's because of him. Growing up without a dad, he was my father figure. He taught me every single thing I know and gave his entire life for me. ... Thank you so much for being my best friend, my teacher, my father, my grandfather, my inspiration, my soul, my everything." Rife took the news of his grandfather's death so hard that he nearly scrapped his special, "Matthew Steven Rife," but eventually managed to complete filming the project.

Steve had been there for Rife throughout his rise to fame and had even been responsible for the sense of humor the comic developed early on in his life, according to an interview with Numéro in March 2023. He explained that every weekend, he and his grandfather would watch movies together, saying, "A lot of them were comedies, like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jim Carrey. That was who I grew up on, that's what he was a fan of and that was kind of our connection. Watching those films and being around him all the time, helped me develop the sense of humor I have now."

Matt Rife has been open about his mental health struggles

Many comedians come from tragic backgrounds and struggle with their mental health. So much so, that there have even been studies around why so many people who have mental health difficulties tend to gravitate toward comedy as a way to cope. In May 2023, Matt Rife performed a stand-up routine in which he expressed how he deals with negativity. "[Comedy is] sort of my coping mechanism. I try to make light of terrible situations, luckily, through humor so that I'm not sad every f***ing day. ... I can't imagine living any kind of life where I don't have an outlet for that negativity," he said.

In addition to using comedy as a coping mechanism, Rife has been open about his struggles with panic attacks. While speaking on the "Sharp Tongue" podcast in 2021, the comedian said that he'd started experiencing them the previous year, which led him to seek help from a therapist. "It's the scariest thing I could possibly imagine anybody going through. ... Now, most of my anxiety and panic attacks come from, like, PTSD of having another panic attack," Rife explained.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Matt Rife doesn't get much sleep

Those who deal with insomnia and the difficulty of trying to figure out what causes their inability to fall asleep know what Matt Rife is going through. In June 2023, the comedian spoke with Elite Daily about how his busy schedule often leads to late nights and a lack of rest. "I'm on the brink of being sick almost every day. Not in a cold kind of way, but just being run-down. I don't sleep. I sleep probably three hours a night, maybe. And then I've got basically at least two shows every night, I'd say six days a week at least," he explained.

Like many people who struggle with insomnia, Rife has tried all of the classic remedies, from melatonin to prescription drugs, and still struggles to fall asleep at night. He added that in order to even give himself a chance at a good night's rest, he relies heavily on marijuana. While on "The Joe Rogan Experience" in September of 2023, Rife explained that he thinks that his insomnia may be linked to his ability to perform comedy, saying, "I think it's the same mechanism in my brain, that allows me to think quickly on stage, that keeps my brain up at night. Like, I just think about anything, it's not even anxiety."

His career makes it hard for him to date

He might still be fresh on the scene, but it's clear his romantic game is fine-tuned. Matt Rife has been linked to big-time actors like Kate Beckinsale and Lucy Hale, and he had a messy breakup with podcaster Brooke Schofield. While he's been on everyone's radar lately and would probably stand a chance at finding a new woman with ease, the comedian explained to Elite Daily in June 2023 that he simply doesn't have time for dating these days. "Both [healthy and unhealthy relationships] are equally time consuming. A healthy relationship, a lot of times you're so happy that you prioritize it over things that you should be doing professionally. ... And sometimes you're in a toxic relationship where you're like, 'Hold on, I can't do this professional thing because I'm too busy fighting with my partner right now,'" he explained.

Despite seeming like he wasn't planning on jumping into the dating pool for a while, just a few months after his Elite Daily interview, Rife disclosed to People that he's dating actor and dancer Jessica Lord. The comedian remarked, "It's newer, but I mean I do prefer to keep it on the more private side. Just because, I mean, people are literally insane," he explained, adding that his new girlfriend is, "so important to my infrastructure." Rife and Lord look as happy as can be, and we're eager to see where the multi-talented couple's relationship leads.

People are calling for Matt Rife to be canceled

Many comedians have been criticized for their remarks, from Ricky Gervais' use of an ableist slur to Dave Chappelle's anti-transgender material. Matt Rife has now fallen into the category of "controversial comic," as he's been slammed several times throughout the latter part of 2023. He has been accused of body-shaming, misogynistic comments, and, in his Netflix special, making insensitive jokes about domestic violence. Following the backlash of "Natural Selection," Rife posted a caption on his Instagram story (via ET), which read, "If you've ever been offended by a joke I've told — here's a link to my official apology." Upon clicking the URL, fans were led to a website selling special needs helmets.

With so many incidents occurring in such a short amount of time, and without an utterance of an apology from the comic, it seemed inevitable that the public would call for Rife's cancellation. In November 2023, while speaking on "The Dr. Jordan B. Peterson Podcast," the comedian doubled down on his statements, saying, "I'll never apologize for a joke, ever. ... If you're on this earth for such a limited amount of time, how insane is it to sit behind your phone and computer and complain about something you don't like when you have a world at your hands of all the things you do like. What an absolute waste of energy, time, and emotion."