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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.