These Stand-up Comedians Are Dominating the Earnings Charts
We all assume that celebrities, comedians included, are rich. But there are levels to this whole “rich” thing, and not all comedians are paid the same amounts. You may even find that, depending on your taste in comedy, it’s not even the funniest comedians who have the most money in the bank.
As you scan this list, keep in mind that, while you may not generally associate certain comedians with stand-up (as opposed to film or TV), nearly all have roots in stand-up comedy.
Estimates on precisely how wealthy a celebrity is are always bound to be off by at least a little bit — even a few million dollars. It naturally follows, then, that the larger the net worth we talk about, the greater the chance is for error.
This explains why you’ll find estimates of daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres’ net worth falling anywhere between $400 million and $500 million. And while the younger generation knows her best as Dory from Finding Nemo and, well, her famous talk show, she was once a stand-up comedian grinding her way through the national comedy circuit.
Jerry Seinfeld has re-integrated himself into pop-culture relevance with his popular Netflix-available show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but make no mistake about it: Seinfeld made his name, literally, off of his eponymous television show. For most, the show has stood the test of time, and Seinfeld continues to generate profits from syndication and royalties.
But Seinfeld himself has continued to grind, despite having a continually growing net worth estimated at around $950 million. He embarked on a 2019 stand-up tour at the age of 65, a move that’s rare amongst comedians of his stature and tax bracket.
Ricky Gervais is one of the United Kingdom’s brightest comedy stars, with his crossover shows along with his many stand-up specials proving popular across the pond. His brand of humor is crass, politically incorrect and, above all, funny.
Gervais is also the creator of the original version of the massively popular show The Office and its American spinoff. In fact, Gervais, whose net worth is estimated to be somewhere between $110 million and $130 million, has called his continual income from NBC’s version of The Office “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Before Jay Leno was the nationally recognized host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, he was a stand-up comedian. In fact, you could argue that what he did every night as the host of The Tonight Show was stand-up comedy, even if he tended to sit down for most of the program.
The opening monologues of those shows highlighted why Leno became an American comedy icon — and why he has been able to parlay his Tonight Show success into shows like Jay Leno’s Garage. Leno has found ways to keep adding to his $350 million to $400 million net worth.
Most know him as the creator of Family Guy, the director and mind behind the Ted franchise and a host for many Hollywood awards shows. But Seth MacFarlane, like most comedic success stories, has deployed his stand-up comedy chops in a variety of ways.
Whether it’s a traditional stand-up set or the aforementioned awards-show hosting, MacFarlane has a penchant for ribbing the audience in a way that won’t exactly curry favor but will nearly always elicit a laugh or two. His caustic brand of humor has netted him between $200 million and $250 million in career earnings.
While Kevin Hart has become a household name through a seemingly endless stream of shrewdly marketed buddy comedies with the likes of The Rock, Will Ferrell and Tiffany Haddish, he’s earned a reputation as one of the hardest working people in comedy by never forgetting his stand-up comedy roots.
Hart is still relatively young by comedy standards, yet the man who frequently riffs on his small stature has already raked in big money, with an estimated net worth around $150 million. He continues to release new comedy specials regularly, alongside more serious films like The Upside.
Bob Saget played Danny Tanner, the wholesome father on the revered sitcom Full House. But if the show more accurately reflected Bob Saget’s real life, it would be re-labeled Full House of Money. Between both royalties and his salary from that show and his successful stand-up career, Saget is loaded.
His comedy style couldn’t be further from the wholesome, “isn’t that cute?” nature of Full House. He’s raunchy, he says exactly what’s on his mind and he courts an adults-only audience. And his net worth is estimated to be in the $100-million range because of it.
By most official sources, Jeff Foxworthy has a net worth hovering around $100 million. That’s more than enough for him to retire on — and for his children to retire on, and their children and so on. It’s generational wealth at this point, and it belongs to a guy who makes fun of his own Southern culture for a living.
The Blue Collar Comedy Tour clearly resonated with a massive audience, and Foxworthy has shrewdly parlayed his stand-up comedy roots into further success as the host of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and a series of feature films. And still, the $100-million man continues to tour, too.
Chris Rock made his name espousing brutally honest comedy that was aimed especially at the African-American community. That was his foot in the door, and he took full advantage of his opportunities, starring in massively popular films like New Jack City, Bad Company, Lethal Weapon 4, The Longest Yard and the Grown Ups franchise.
Rock’s stand-up routines may not be quite as edgy as they were when he exploded on the scene, but he’s still one of the higher-grossing names in the game. His success has amounted to an estimated $100 million in career earnings to date.
Roseanne Barr is, hands down, one of the more financially successful women in comedy. In fact, with a net worth estimated to be around $80 million, she may just be one of the most successful female comedians in the history of comedy (no, we didn’t forget Ellen already).
Though she’s become somewhat of a polarizing figure after having her reboot of Roseanne canceled, the original Roseanne and her various stand-up comedy specials and other ventures have proven to be extremely lucrative. So, even if Roseanne Barr was never to work again — a seemingly unlikely possibility — she probably has enough in the bank already.
The King of Queens, Kevin James, was a stand-up comedian before he was a TV and movie star. But, he is, in fact, a TV star; The King of Queens was on the air for nine seasons — far more than the average for just any old show. It also remains in syndication, which means James continues to collect checks.
He has also become a significant draw on the silver screen, starring in smash hits like Hitch, the Paul Blart series, and his many collaborations with the Adam Sandler crew. In total, this has amounted to an estimated net worth of around $80 million.
It turns out that everybody, the audience in particular, really does love Raymond. Because you don’t build up a personal net worth estimated at $130 million if the audiences don’t love you. Yes, Romano has done well for himself, and that started even before he was a bona-fide television star.
Romano traces his roots back to the stage, where most comedians must establish their ability to make audiences laugh before any TV or film executive will give them a shot to be in a show. Romano is experiencing a late-career revival with the critically acclaimed show Get Shorty.
Rowan Atkinson may not be the star in the States that he is in England, but he’s not an unknown, either. Because Mr. Bean — the character with whom Atkinson is most synonymous — was a staple of many Brits’ childhoods, and Atkinson himself is British, there’s probably no way he’d ever be bigger in America than England.
However, Atkinson’s portrayal of Johnny English and other roles in films like Rat Race have made him highly recognizable in global comedy circles. Still, you may be surprised to find that Atkinson has a massive estimated net worth of $130 million.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Borat, anyone? Bruno, anyone? Baron Cohen, anyone? Apparently, Sacha Baron Cohen is beloved no matter what name he goes by. His bankroll is massive — like, an estimated $130 million. Though this figure shouldn’t be all too surprising considering how popular hits like Borat have been, that is still a lot of moolah.
And while Baron Cohen has established himself as a movie star first and foremost in other films like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, he’s known to do stand-up comedy routines even today. So, while he has his own show on Showtime and continues to net film roles, he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
Steve Harvey has evolved throughout a long career in comedy, starting with stand-up and then starring in The Steve Harvey Show, a sitcom that ran for six seasons and introduced broader audiences to Steve Harvey the man. Now, he’s known to most as the host of Family Feud, and also for being a shrewd businessman.
Despite a public slip-up while hosting the Miss Universe pageant, Harvey’s brand is as strong as ever. And he’s cashed in based on his increasingly recognizable name, with an estimated net worth between $160 million and $180 million.
Would you believe that David Letterman, comedian-turned-night show host, is a member of the $400-million club? Well, according to estimates of Letterman’s net worth, he is. That’s particularly rarefied air for somebody who is, above all else, a comedian.
Most may not know that Letterman was once a stand-up specialist in terms of his comedy, but it makes sense considering that his role as a night show host was a similar format to traditional stand-up. And yet, while Letterman has a reported 400 million bills in the bank, he continues to work. Amazing.
Adam Sandler has come a long way since his days as a stand-up comedian who got his major break on Saturday Night Live. Sandler is as close as it gets to a cross-generational household name in comedy, and he’s made an art of putting out low-cost comedy films that make a killing.
That formula of cutting margins while banking on his name to lure audiences to theaters and streaming services has proven lucrative. Sandler’s net worth is estimated to be around $420 million. With ongoing deals with Netflix and no sign of slowing down, expect that figure to rise.
Drew Carey is the only host that younger generations know when it comes to The Price Is Right, the massively popular game show that still claims a spot on CBS. But before manning the skinny microphone, he was talking into the mic at comedy clubs across the nation, making his name as a stand-up comedian.
Carey would eventually go on to star in The Drew Carey Show, which ran from 1995 to 2004. Carey is likely still collecting checks from that show, but he doesn’t need them. His net worth is reportedly around $165 million.
Fans of OG Saturday Night Live will remember Dan Aykroyd fondly. Heck, fans of any number of classic films — Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, Coneheads, Trading Places — will recognize Aykroyd. He has a signature spunk and sharp tongue that make him unique as a comic, and his renowned work ethic ensured that he landed many lucrative roles.
And when we say lucrative, we mean lucrative. Aykroyd, who as a Saturday Night Live alum has operated at the highest levels of stand-up comedy, is worth a reported $135 million. Some estimates for him range as high as $180 million. We’re talking Ghostbusters money.
Eddie Murphy is arguably one of the godfathers of stand-up comedy, with specials like Delirious and Raw among the pantheon of classic comedy routines. And he’s not done, as he announced that he’s releasing brand-new stand-up sets beginning in 2020 in partnership with Netflix.
Murphy must really love working, and it’s hard to believe he could be cash-strapped. After all, Murphy was a phenomenon on Saturday Night Live and parlayed that popularity into a slew of films like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America and Trading Places. As a result, he’s got a reported $120 million to show for it.
Amy Schumer has a unique brand of comedy, and it’s one that has drawn a loyal audience. She began as a stand-up act, showing a willingness to shock and offend if it ultimately meant making waves and getting laughs. She’s become known as a movie and television personality too, and she’s done well based on her success.
Between her comedy specials; starring roles in films like Trainwreck, I Feel Pretty, Snatched and Thank You for Your Service; and appearances on television and other media outlets, Schumer has amassed a reported $37.5 million in career earnings, according to Forbes.
Jim Gaffigan isn’t the biggest name in comedy today, but he is a big name. And he has leveraged his name and proven shtick to obtain financial comfort. Gaffigan is reported to have a net worth somewhere around $30 million, according to Forbes, which is more than any cut-rate comic could aspire to earn.
Gaffigan has appeared in more films than you may realize, including Super Troopers, 13 Going on 30, Hotel Transylvania 3, Three Kings, Chappaquiddick and Being Frank. But his comedy specials are the heart of what makes Gaffigan the high earner that he’s proven himself to be.
When Trevor Noah was named as the successor to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, many were skeptical. Such skepticism was primarily a matter of most audience members not knowing who Noah was. But Noah, love him or hate him, has become a well-known name in comedy, and financial success has followed.
At only 35 years old, Noah is worth a reported $30 million. That’s not a bad pace considering how long established comics tend to continue their careers. So, Noah looks set to make much more money before retirement. And he continues to do stand-up routines, showing his love of the game.
We wanted to make sure that we weren’t completely leaving out the more new-school, up-and-coming acts in comedy. It takes time to amass the great wealth that many of the legends on this list have, but some newer, less-established acts are earning substantial amounts based on their relatively short time in the spotlight.
Sebastian Maniscalco is one of the newcomers who’s rapidly stacking cash, and he’s doing it virtually all through traditional stand-up comedy. Though he’s a savvy presence on alternate media, he’s accumulated most of his $16 million net worth without being in movies or on television.
Gabriel Iglesias has taken the art of self-deprecating comedy to an entirely new level, making a career out of his outsize size. The comic known as “Mr. Fluffy” has never backed down from his own physical “shortcomings,” which have turned out to be quite the opposite — his size has played an integral role in the size of his bank account.
That bank account is estimated to amount to a sum somewhere around $40 million. And yet, Iglesias has stayed true to the routine that has made him handsomely wealthy. Kudos to him.
Larry the Cable Guy
“What’s that?” you say. “Larry the Cable Guy is the lowest form of comedy,” you say? Well, maybe Larry isn’t for you, but a quick examination of his massive success and the financial ends that success has created for him makes it clear: Larry the Cable Guy is for lots and lots of people.
How would you like to have some extra spending money in your bank account? Like $50 million to $80 million in spending money? Because that’s how much the Southern stand-up icon and movie star is estimated to be worth.
All comedians seem to have a heightened buzz when they first emerge, and Aziz Ansari was a massive star when he first burst onto the scene with his uniquely frenetic brand of stand-up comedy. As is often the case, he’s become a more varied form of comedian, heading the critically acclaimed show Master of None, among other projects.
But Ansari has never strayed from his roots as a pure stand-up comedian. His special Right Now dropped in July of 2019, and it showed that he still loves making fans a bit uncomfortable. By the way, he’s worth an estimated $18 million.
Puppets have never been so lucrative since Sesame Street took the world by storm. Jeff Dunham is arguably the best-known — and best, period — ventriloquist in the world right now, and he’s paid handsomely for his unique brand of comedy. How handsomely? His net worth is estimated to be in the $140-million range.
If you’ve just begun searching for your sock puppet collection, think again. Watch Dunham’s many live specials and you’ll see. It’s not just his ability as a ventriloquist that makes him special, but also the wide range of characters and dialogue he comes up with.
If there’s one ventriloquist alive now who gives Jeff Dunham a run for his money, literally and in terms of comedy quality, it’s Terry Fator. Fator specializes in live shows, which are often held in Vegas, and he’s made a killing playing with puppets for Vegas’ never-ending stream of tourists.
Fator has a knack for incorporating pop culture figures (Donald Trump, for example) into his routines, ensuring that his acts don’t become stale. If net worth is any indication of how good Fator’s comedy is, then he’s a stud. His net worth: an estimated $140 million.
Bill Murray has managed to remain highly relevant as a pop culture icon — not so much from any recent work he’s done, but from just showing up at random events involving young people. Whether it’s a Xavier basketball game (he’s a die-hard fan), or a post-prom party, Murray is liable to pop up anywhere at any time.
But “relevance” doesn’t cash the checks — great comedy does. And Murray has classics under his belt: Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Stripes, Space Jam, and Ghostbusters just to name a few. And people forget that this $140-million man was once a stand-up legend on and off SNL.