He Steals the Show
Earlier this year, 24-year-old comedian Matt Rife was accustomed to traveling the country on a Greyhound bus to get to and from his gigs. Now, he has found himself flying on private jets as the opening act for his longtime idol and mentor Dane Cook on his Tell It Like It Is tour. “It’s crazy how it goes full-spectrum,” he says. “And within 9 years, the same person who I saw performing, as well as tens of thousands of people, is now a very good friend of mine.”
While crowds of people watch Rife perform on tour, fans at home may have seen his stand-up on NBC’s Bring the Funny as the comedy competition showcases 40 different comedians, each aiming to get the biggest laughs out of the judges, including Chrissy Teigen, Kenan Thompson, and Jeff Foxworthy. His time in the competition was unlike any of his past experiences. As his first nationally televised stand-up appearance, he’s felt much more pressure on set. The judge he was most nervous to perform in front of was Foxworthy (“He was one of my first experiences with stand-up. His approval means probably the most to me”). Growing up in Ohio, Rife was influenced by his parents’ love for comedy, one of their favorites being the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Rife didn’t quite understand the jokes at 9 years old but he grew to see the genius behind the troupe’s routines.
It wasn’t until Rife was around 14 that it truly clicked: Stand-up was something he wanted to try. Just a year later, he was performing his own routines. While most comedy clubs are for adults age 21 and up, his local club, the Columbus Funny Bone, took a chance on him, and he was able to participate in open mics once a week.
Rife went on to perform at world-renowned comedy clubs on visits to L.A., most notably the Laugh Factory. Rife was one of the youngest comedians to perform there and eventually became a regular. Not long after making the move to L.A., Rife worked with both Disney XD and MTV, two wildly different networks. “Disney gave me a chance to be in front of the camera and on set with little pressure,” he shares. “It was a gentle kind of ease into acting.” As for MTV’s Wild 'N Out, he says that it was fantastic exposure and perfect for what he needed at the time. When it comes to his sets, furthermore, Rife would describe them as charmingly naïve, poking fun at the fact that he doesn’t really understand a lot of what goes on in the world. “I really don’t know what people are hearing when I talk,” he jokes.
Although Rife is much younger compared to some of his fellow comedians, his view of comedy in the digital age is beyond his years. Despite the popularity of Internet comedy, he has never been driven to create much online content because the comedy being cut up into short intervals and posted on social media is, he says, a totally different art form.
As he’s currently working on developing his own show, he affirms that his primary goal is to be on screen. “It’ll give me a chance to showcase all of my talents outside of stand-up – so that’s the dream right now,” says Rife, whose love for stand-up will, of course, never fade.
Writer: Tara McDonough
Photographer: Paul Brickman
Stylist: Jennifer Austin
Men’s Grooming: Michelle Harvey (for Opus Beauty - using Drunk Elephant & Oribe)
Videographer: Mason Kim
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Demitasse (@cafe_demitasse - cafedemitasse.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)