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Matt Rife Almost Quit Comedy Before His "Random" TikTok Success

Matt Rife's 17 million TikTok followers helped sell ProbleMATTic tour tickets, but his Grandpa ferried him to stand-up gigs as an Ohio teen. 

By Samantha Vincenty

Matt Rife's UnprobleMATTic World Tour sold 600,000 tickets in 48 hours—not super surprising, given his nearly 18 million TikTok followers. But Rife's massive social media success is just the most recent chapter in a standup career he started at age 15. 

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

"July of last year, I was considering comedy," Rife told Jimmy Fallon during a November 8 visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. "I couldn't sell any tickets at any comedy club, I wasn't getting any kind of break. So going from playing clubs for 35 people who got free tickets to—we broke Ticketmaster, which is insane."

Starting out as a teenager, Rife told Fallon he'd been doing comedy for 11 years, "and it beats you down hearing so much rejection."

RELATED: Remember When Matt Rife Showed Up on Brooklyn Nine Nine?

"After a certain point, you go, 'Am I delusional? Maybe I'm not funny. Maybe I'm not supposed to do this.'"

After reluctantly signing up for TikTok, a video from the Just For Laughs comedy festival "changed everything."

Watch Matt Rife's Tonight Show interview above for the full story of his not-so-overnight success. 

The Tonight Show Matt Rife

Matt Rife's grandpa ferried him to gigs as a teen

Rife's come a long way since his teenage years. "My grandpa used to take me to the Columbus Funny Bone in Ohio every Wednesday," he told Fallon.

It was a "bringer show," requiring acts to bring five audience members, but since Rife's friends were too young to attend, "my grandpa would buy five tickets so the club would think I had five people there to perform for. And then he would just watch me tank week after week after week."

Rife says his grandfather "loved" watching him learn onstage. "He was my biggest supporter," he continued. "If it wasn't for my grandpa, I'd have absolutely no sense of humor and I never would have gotten my start in comedy."

Tickets for Matt Rife's UnprobleMATTic World Tour are on sale now.