Comedian Matt Rife’s success may have come overnight, viewers learned Wednesday Tonight’s show, he’s not an overnight success. It wasn’t until he had been in the business for over a decade and was on the verge of quitting that a “reluctantly” posted TikTok video changed his life forever.
Rife went from struggling comedian to viral video star, had his own Netflix special and a world tour in the space of a year, and told host Jimmy Fallon all about his remarkable story.
Rife’s comedy career began at the early age of 15, when his grandfather – to whom Rife credits his comedy career – took him to the local comedy club in Columbus, Ohio and bought enough tickets and drinks to get Rife on stage let.
Rife, 28, said he had no idea what a comedy set was early on, but stayed away from children’s jokes from a young age and always aimed his material at adults. He said this helped him later when the novelty of being so young wore off when he was in his early 20s.
But after that working in the comedy industry For eleven years, including a decade in Los Angeles, Rife was crushed by all the rejection. He said it was impossible to get a special or get on a TV show anywhere – he even signed up for it The Tonight Show a few times – brought him to a breaking point.
“All of these things just didn’t add up, and at a certain point you wonder, ‘Am I delusional?’ Maybe I’m not funny. Maybe I shouldn’t do this,” Rife said. “And then just one random video changed everything.”
Rife said he has always hated social media because of the negativity associated with it. But after accepting the fact that because of what he was doing, he had to change his approach was not While Rife was working, he “reluctantly” began posting videos on TikTok in early 2022.
Later that year, an improv comedy show he started with comedian Paul Elia was invited to Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, albeit without Rife. Organizers told him he could perform, but they wouldn’t pay him for his work or his travel. But he suppressed his pride and went anyway.
While he was there, he had an edited video called “The Lazy Hero” ready to post, but was feeling pretty down and started wondering what it was about. But a friend told him to post it since it was already edited and then they would have a fun evening.
Then, over the next few days, that video unexpectedly went “insanely viral,” as Rife called it, reaching 20 to 30 million views, which in turn blew up many of his other videos and ultimately became a “life-changing” moment.
“The irony that something you were afraid of could change your entire life. So take more risks,” Rife said. “It was unreal, my whole life changed in 14 months, I’m so grateful.”
Rife’s quick success has led to a Netflix special that will premiere on November 15th Natural selection. He chose Washington, DC to shoot the film at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s historic Constitution Hall, where Eddie Murphy resides Imaginative was filmed along with specials by Robin Williams and Katt Williams.
In parallel with the special, Rife announced his ProbleMATTic World Tour, which recently sold over 600,000 tickets in the first hour of its existence.
“Starting with clubs with 35 people getting free tickets, we broke Ticketmaster, which is crazy,” Rife said.
Despite the meteoric success he is currently experiencing, Rife disputes popular claims from viewers that he is an overnight success given his 12 years in the business.
“You have to look back on those moments and all the moments where you thought you were ready for a certain opportunity, but you probably weren’t,” he said. “I’m in a situation right now where there’s a lot of pressure to stand behind what I’m building in my live performances on social media. And if I hadn’t had those years of training beforehand, these shows might not be as good as they are. Now I feel like I’m in the right position at the right time.”
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weekdays on NBC.