Matt Rife and the Issues With Hunky Comics

My to start with imagined on observing the stand-up comedian Matt Rife, prior to figuring out much of something about him, was that I didn’t like him. This wasn’t a thought of belief, so a great deal as a knee-jerk prejudice.

Critics should be clear about their biases, so permit me confess 1: I am skeptical of warm adult males in comedy. And I’m not the only a person.

To be obvious, I’m not very pleased of this. Matt Rife just cannot assistance the actuality that he has high cheekbones, which have performed a role in both equally his meteoric increase and the grumbling in some comedy circles. Rife, who tends to make his Netflix debut on Wednesday with “Natural Collection,” went viral on TikTok during the pandemic and then put out two specials on YouTube that jointly racked up practically 30 million views, a staggering accomplishment. Of these 3 hrs, he addresses his look most right in the first, when he says it’s rough to be handsome in comedy. Confident, he gets lots of notice from gals, he stated, but that doesn’t help his self esteem or anxiousness. “I can’t even hang myself for the reason that my jawline will cut the rope,” he suggests, with an added curse word.

It’s my preferred of his jokes, a candid combine of self-pitying and boastful that takes you by surprise. But it also forces us to grapple with an awkward dilemma: Is it mistaken to discriminate from hunks?

Comedy has been the scarce field where square jaws and chiseled options can count in opposition to you. Bob Odenkirk as soon as reported that it was extremely hard for adult males to be funny and hot. A single challenge speaking about this issue is that you quickly deal with the eye of the beholder. The concern of irrespective of whether John Mulaney is handsome, it turns out, starts arguments. But the assumption in stand-up has lengthy been that it is much better to be relatable or preposterous than ravishing. When Anthony Jeselnik acquired commenced, he swiftly observed that his appears prevented him from finding laughs at self-deprecating jokes, so he crafted a villain persona.

Attractiveness has entered the maw of the lifestyle war for the reason that the stigma against attractive gentlemen has been fading.

When Pete Davidson sang, “I guess I’m incredibly hot for dudes in comedy due to the fact it’s an unpleasant industry” in a “Barbie” spoof on “Saturday Night time Live” last thirty day period, the quip presently seemed dated. An early indication of improve might have been when the boyishly great-seeking Jimmy Fallon took around as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2014. But you now see handsome adult men everywhere you go, even at modest Brooklyn shows like the a single the place a comic launched the endearingly sweet Lucas O’Neil by citing not his credits but his cheekbones. The dimply Trevor Noah and Colin Jost — comics amazing enough that no one is shocked that they dated movie stars and styles — are also component of what just one annoyed late-night author described on Twitter as Promenade King Comedy, complaining: “You’ve enable the popular little ones appropriate the very art kind that helped you deal.”

Every single 12 months it looks a comedian will get buff. Kumail Nanjiani most famously, but Chris Rock demonstrating off his ab muscles in The Hollywood Reporter took me more by surprise. When The Day-to-day Beast runs the headline “I Regret to Tell You That Jerry Seinfeld Is Incredibly hot,” it just goes to exhibit that a new cultural stress has been born.

Practically nothing, even so, represents this shift more than Matt Rife, whose unexpected fame came not from the clubs or a pageant spot but social media, exactly where you’re rewarded for wanting beautiful in a near-up. While the early fame of Eddie Murphy (in his leather match era) and Dane Prepare dinner expected Rife’s heartthrob stature, he feels like a new variety of cultural determine. His marriage with the audience, an integral component of the crowd do the job movies that designed his movie star, is closer than that of former comics, and if some lovers are responding to his attractiveness as a great deal as his jokes, he doesn’t feel to brain. He’s not actively playing down or managing his seems to be. He’s not spoofing or winking at it the way Alec Baldwin did on “Saturday Night Live” early in his profession.

Rife leans into his sex enchantment. You can see it in the swaggering way he poses for pictures or shows off his biceps. Like a boy band star, he invitations you to admire him — and suggests from the phase that his viewers is mostly women of all ages. Section of his attraction is that he speaks like a Teenager Beat include boy, indicating issues like, “Homophobia is a substantial pet peeve of mine.” His debut distinctive was known as “Only Fans” and he flirts with the viewers. He posted exercise session clips on social media and employs a topless image for his Instagram avatar. His road manager is a male design. If Zoolander begun accomplishing open up mics, he would act like Matt Rife.

This is touchy territory for the reason that we previously stay in a environment exactly where each and every youthful musical star is interesting, male politicians need to have to be tall to get elected president and the advantages for actors pleasing to appear at are taken for granted. Now comedy much too? Is the algorithm likely to make the out-of-condition nebbish standup an endangered species?

Woman comics, who experience relentless amounts of sexist objectification, navigate an even thornier terrain than their male counterparts, but that’s an entirely distinctive dialogue. Comedy is the place a homely bald accountant like Bob Newhart could develop into a superstar. Numerous comics were being to start with enthusiastic to be humorous to compensate for not being common in school. On the “Too Far” podcast, Sarah Sherman said, “Do you know there are comedians who were not bullied now?”

At the time once more, none of this is the fault of Matt Rife, a tricky-functioning stand-up with generic punchlines about terminate culture, the irritations of social media and women who love crystals. Rife after joked that he recognized as an ugly particular person. Set apart the overdone joke development. What that tells me is he is familiar with the double common he is going through and would like to get forward of it.

The plan that handsome men and women cannot be amusing is significantly as well sweeping a generalization. Paul Rudd exists.

I judged Rife way too harshly on 1st look, but I’m no bigot. Some of my ideal friends are handsome adult males. To greater empathize with their plight, I FaceTimed a single, Misha Collins, an actor who is most popular for playing an angel on the hit exhibit ‘Supernatural” and who was my buddy extensive ahead of he turned the issue of on the web lust and erotic supporter fiction.

When I questioned Collins about the hardships of the handsome, he seemed additional awkward than I’d at any time observed him. “I’d instead converse to you for a tale on Gaza,” he explained, adding that there is practically nothing even worse than an actor admitting that he thinks he’s handsome. “Everyone wishes handsome people to fall short, which include me,” he stated, flashing the unhappy but soulful eyes of a self-hating handsome person.

There was something poignant about hearing my buddy grudgingly acknowledge that he is aware of he’s great wanting. But as I begun speculating aloud about the potential risks of currently being beautiful, I seen him shaking his head and smiling as if I was saying the stupidest point in the environment. Really do not get it twisted, he informed me currently being handsome is remarkable. “You can coast on it in so many conditions,” he extra, laughing off any sympathy from me.

It reminded me of a joke by Raanan Hershberg evaluating receiving romantic tips from a scorching man to currently being taught how to bowl by another person who has only performed it using bumpers.

Resentment towards incredibly hot adult males is the two unfair and easy to understand. Elegance is not the enemy of humor, but it is a rival. Men and women generally say that what they want most in a potential lover is a feeling of humor, but who believes them?

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