Who Is Viral TikTok Comedian Matt Rife (And What Is His Connection To Kate Beckinsale)?

There are few comedians as in demand as Matt Rife, who announced a Ticketmaster-breaking 2023 headlining comedy tour spanning more than 100 cities. The "ProbleMATTic" headliner has made a name for himself both in and around the comedy scene since 2017, from competing on NBC's "Bring the Funny" to starring as a regular on MTV's "Wild 'N Out." By the time TikTok gained popularity, the Columbus, Ohio native became the prince of the platform, amassing more than 15 million followers. "There's a confidence and comfortability that comes with that power onstage, but I think that's part of the job," he told Esquire. "I don't think that's ego. Because to me, my shows feel like one big hangout and I'm just hosting the party."

But there's more to this funny man than his bro-based jokes seem to reveal. He's expressed his complicated interests in dating, he prides himself on working out, and he has a soft spot for his family. He's your average young guy — just in a bustling "Hollyweird" world that is ready and willing for more funny business from this up-and-coming comic.

His youth was marred by tragedy

Before he became one of TikTok's most popular comedians, Matt Rife grew up around the Columbus, Ohio area. "It was a very carefree -– irresponsible -– but carefree place to grow up," he shared with Columbus Underground. "... I just remember it being a good place to grow up."

Rife has also faced some tragedy in his life. His biological father died by suicide at the age of 20. "Because I'm 26 now, and when you think about your dad, no matter what state, you think about a grown man. But I'm older than my dad ever was," he revealed on the "Bertcast" podcast with comedian Bert Kreischer in 2022. "It's crazy to think about." His mother eventually remarried, and Rife grew up in a full house with a younger half-sister and three older stepsisters. As for his daily life, Rife told Elite Daily that college wasn't in his general plan for himself, and that he likely would have gone into the Army had he not pursued comedy.

The main father figure in Rife's life was his maternal grandfather, Steven, who died in November 2022. He even dedicated his 2023 stand-up special "Matthew Steven Rife" to his beloved "Papaw." "Growing up without a dad, he was my father figure," the comedian wrote in a touching Instagram tribute. "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."

His comedy roots run deep

Matt Rife's love of comedy began as a young teen, with him citing Dave Chapelle and Dane Cook as early influences. After competing in a school talent show with his first stand-up routine, he began making his rounds on the local comedy circuit. "I mean, looking back, as far as first times go, it wasn't too bad," he shared of his early years as a comedian with Columbus Underground. "... I'm sure part of it was that I was just a kid -– [the audience] probably felt bad a little bit. It was a fun time, and I never stopped going back after that."

Rife eventually moved to Los Angeles at 17, and appeared as a semi-finalist on the NBC series "Bring the Funny." "I'm definitely way more observational and situational ..." he told Columbus Underground. "... The moment I try to sit down with a pen and a pad at a table, my mind is just blank ... Which [was] the hardest part about ["Bring The Funny"] ..."

While he didn't end up winning the competition series, his popularity as a result of his appearance continued to rise. He has opened for comedians including Mike Epps, Bill Bellamy, DeRay Davis, and one of his dear friends, the late Ralphie May. "He let me open for him at a theatre in Ohio when I was 16. He was the first person to believe in me," he wrote of the comedian on Instagram. " ... He ... gave me my shot, and I'd like to think I made him proud."

Matt Rife has a history with MTV

MTV became a go-to place for Matt Rife as he continued to expand his career in the late 2010s. At 21, he became the youngest cast member of Nick Cannon's popular comedy battle series "Wild 'N Out." In one of his more viral (cringe) moments on the show, Rife decided to shoot his shot with the multi-faceted (and iconic) Zendaya before being rebuffed. Even with some of his shots being big misses, Rife still praises the show for giving him one of his biggest starts. "It has been amazing [being on the show]," he shared with "This Is 50." "I knew like half the cast when I got here ... and I get to meet new people ... It's so much fun. I'm getting paid to do something I love."

Rife also served as a host for the network's reboot of "TRL" alongside Tamara Dhia and DC Young Fly. The show allowed Rife to test both his comedy and hosting skills with semi-unscripted bits including "Flashcard Freestyle." "When [MTV was] putting this project together, I suppose they took into consideration my love of music and pop culture, as well as my experience in comedy and live performances and it seemed like a good fit," Rife told Crookes Magazine. Yet, reviews of the show's revival were not favorable, so Rife continued to make appearances on the network in other shows like "The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars." "MTV has been an incredible family to me and we love to work together," he shared with Crookes Magazine.

His talents have made their way to scripted content

Matt Rife has also set his sights on acting roles. He has made his rounds in the Hollywood audition scene, but still says he has much to learn. "It's just not acting, really," he shared with Columbus Underground. "It's just a game of who looks exactly the way that [casting directors] envision the part to be, and who can memorize the best, really. That's the process, unfortunately, and I'll have to get better at it. But it's tricky, for sure."

He's managed to break through the barrier with roles on shows including "Fresh Off The Boat" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," but he continues to strive for more. "To be a perfect 'Hollywood star'... you have to sacrifice a lot of personal action and personal opinion, and I would say dignity a little bit," he told Elite Daily. "And I tried to be that exact perfect person for the first nine years being in Los Angeles ... But that didn't happen, and I was not being myself."

Where he has been himself, though, is with his own (somewhat) scripted comedy specials, which he has self-published on YouTube to millions of viewers. His first hour-long special, "Only Fans," debuted on December 17, 2021. This was followed up with "Matthew Steven Rife," which debuted on April 3, 2023, and "Walking Red Flag" that June. "A lot of what I do are just life experiences ... just things that I've done firsthand, and then I build off of that, which is fun for me," he told Esquire.

The comedian's career blew up big when he hit TikTok

When Matt Rife made the leap to social media, particularly TikTok, that's when his comedic buzz really took flight. But it wasn't love at first like between Rife and the wide open Internet: "I hate social media," he shared with E! News. "I was like, 'How long can you go against the grain and it not work?'" Once he started posting clips from his sets on his profiles, including the occasional workout routine on his YouTube channel, he saw his following increase exponentially. As of June 2023, Rife has amassed more than 15 million followers on TikTok alone. "Social media has changed everything for me," he said. "I mean ... everything has shifted because of clips online ... Everything was kind of exponentially growing towards social media for stand up, luckily, [so] it's changed everything."

One of his most viral clips has even helped bolster his reputation beyond the Gen Z crowd. In the widely seen video, Rife riffs with a "hot Midwestern mom" named Christina, flirting with her and eventually FaceTiming her daughter live on stage. The two have even stayed in touch after the memorable moment. "She's such a good support," Rife shared with E! News. "She comments on all my videos and she'll DM me on TikTok or something, just congratulating me on the tour. She's such a sweetheart. She has been so much fun."

He's into health, fitness, and fashion (for him)

Even on the road, Matt Rife focuses on maintaining both his mental and physical health. "I just work out every day and I try to eat healthy," he told Digital Journal. "I have the worst sweet tooth, so I am a sucker for candy and desserts. But I work out every day and incorporate different types of workouts such as the gym, boxing, hiking, basketball, and football." Fans and general viewers alike can see Rife's weight-lifting workouts in his "Rife on the Road" video blog on his YouTube channel. Even as he plans for the future, he keeps a sharp focus on wellness. "As soon as I get a house, one of the first investments I'll make will be [a] cold plunge," he revealed to Esquire. "It's so good for your muscles. It's good for your mental health, good for your metabolism. I absolutely love it."

But it's not just fitness he's feeling lately — he's also got an eye for fashion (meaning what works best for him). While it's the norm to see him in a t-shirt and jeans when on stage ("Up until two years ago, you couldn't pay me to wear low top sneakers because everything was about big, bulky high tops, like Jordans and everything ..." he shared to Esquire), when it comes to his footwear, he's particularly picky: "I hate flip flops. I hate loafers. And anybody who wears any shoe without a sock in it, I think should be publicly executed."

Matt Rife is into ghost hunting

When he's not under the bright stage lights, Matt Rife can often be found prowling in the dark for ghosts. Rife is an avid "paranormal investigator," as he describes himself, and has explored numerous haunted places with friends on the YouTube channel "Overnight." "I go to all these famous haunted places and [my friend, Elton Castee] kind of brought me in to kind of be, like, the humor," Rife shared on the "Bertcast" with Bert Kreischer. "... It's so much fun." The series grew so popular that Rife joined forces with his "haunted homies," Castee and Corey Scherer, for a sold-out podcast tour of the same title in 2023.

The group has wound their way through a number of haunted houses, from the iconic "Poltergeist" home to the infamous Whaley House, known as "the most haunted house in America." "I've never seen anything that I'm like 'oh, this is so distinctly, obviously, without a doubt a ghost,' but ... the things we have had happen? Scary..." Rife shared on the "Bertcast" podcast.

Rife's penchant for the peculiar has frequently made its way into his standup sets. As The Pitt News once described a set of his, he joked about his strong belief in paranormal entities, so much so that he leave the television on all night so that the ghosts will stay away, thinking he has company. 

He really likes Ryan Reynolds

Even everyone's comedy crush has been known to have one of his own ... Matt Rife has been vocal about his bro crush on actor Ryan Reynolds. "Oh my God, I have a type. I need to do some soul searching," he told Esquire, while dishing to Columbus Underground: "I love Ryan Reynolds, and I think he's a fantastic actor. And I love how he brings his own sense of humor to every role he plays."

Much like Reynolds, Rife is as self-deprecatory as he is playfully suggestive in his work, making their humors complementary to one another. Rife has expressed his interest in having Reynolds attend one of his shows. "I know this is the second time I've mentioned him [in this interview], but I'm kinda hoping he sees this at this point!" he joked with Famous Birthdays.

But it's more than just his humor that Rife idolizes when it comes to Reynolds. He admires his ability to play into different sides of himself in his work, something that Rife strives to do in his own acting. "I love how [Reynolds] brings his own sense of humor to every role he plays," Rife gushed to Columbus Underground. "[His role as Deadpool] specifically has drama, and it has action, it has comedy. That's all stuff I want to do in one cumulative role. That would be perfect for me. And the way Hollywood works, I'm sure they'll be doing a reboot in five years, anyway."

Being romantically linked to an A-list actor

Early in his career, back in 2017, Matt Rife was linked to actor Kate Beckinsale. At the time, the comedian and the "Underworld" star had quite the age difference — Rife was 21 and had just started earning his comedy chops, while the veteran actor Beckinsale was 43. "She really seems to like him," an anonymous source shared with People. "She refers to him as an old soul. There is obviously a physical attraction, too. The age differen[ce] doesn't matter to her. Matt is amazing to her."

The two reportedly met through a mutual friend, and things picked up quickly from there. "Everyone in Kate's circle loves Matt and are so supportive of this relationship," a source told ET Online. "He really is the sweetest guy and makes her so happy!" The couple maintained an on-and-off dynamic for a few PDA-packed months, with Rife even reportedly "talking about moving in [together after] only a couple weeks" before thing eventually ended. "I prioritized women a lot when I was younger, and I was in a lot of healthy and a lot of unhealthy relationships," Rife told Elite Daily. "But both of them 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.'"

The history of being (kinda) canceled

Even at the relative beginning of his career, Matt Rife certainly hasn't been immune to internet gossip and cancel culture. In 2016, old tweets from Rife's teenage years resurfaced. The tweets in question that depicted derogatory and racist language, and screenshots of the deleted tweets, were circulated online by fellow comedian Brandon Wardell. This situation escalated, and the two comedians hashed it out on Twitter. Rife eventually locked his Twitter account for a while and took to another popular platform, Snapchat, to rant about the situation.

He also is guilty, like many comedians, of taking his jokes arguably a bit out of line and was even blasted in the press for insulting the city of Atlanta after years of performing in their circuit. Needless to say, fans and Georgia residents were not thrilled with his take. "I just never had a good time in that city," he revealed on "Cancelled with Tana Mongeau." "It just has nothing to offer me." As for Atlanta citizens' response? Needless to say, it wasn't very welcoming. As one tweet read, the city didn't react well to Rife's diss "probably because they already got real Black folks so they don't need him pretending to be one onstage."

"There's moments to recognize that you've made mistakes and that you've learned from those," Rife shared on the (aptly titled) "Cancelled with Tana Mongeau." "But after a certain point ... as you get older and the more mature you get, you recognize what's okay and not okay."

Matt Rife announced his first worldwide tour

In 2023, Matt Rife announced his first massive worldwide tour, the "ProblemMATTic" Tour. The jaunt was planned to span North America, Europe, and Australia across more than 100 dates throughout 2023 and 2024. He even released a special video co-starring actor Ashton Kutcher to help announce the tour. "I couldn't be more thrilled to live out this lifelong dream," Rife shared in a statement. "To tour the world, spreading laughter, with some of my best friends, is something I never thought would be possible. I'm so grateful to get this opportunity, and it's even more fulfilling knowing that it's all because of the incredible people who enjoy my comedy."

But it wasn't just Rife who was excited to get going. Within 24 hours of the tour's announcement, fans had crashed the Ticketmaster site a la Taylor Swift's "Swifties" fan base in anticipation of the on-sale date. With the on-sale site in shambles, and prices surging to sky highs, many fans were not happy about the situation. Some fans were even unable to secure their tickets despite following all of the protocols. Luckily, select cities received additional shows to fill demand. "I've been working so hard towards this for 12 years and now I've surrounded myself with a team who works just as hard and share the same passion," Rife said. "I still can't believe it."