Aademy Awards are great, but at the end of the day, it’s funny that equals money. Not the kind of funny that your friends think you are, but people will travel a hundred miles to see you kind of funny. Many comedians have parlayed their stand-up routines into big careers, which has led to big bank accounts. This clearly won’t be a list of the 10 funniest people in the world since everyone has different tastes.
The stand-up routines are a great way to make cash, and playing live shows is usually how entertainers make the bulk of their money, but the same could not be said for all comedians. Instead, going the route of the popular sitcom can net you at least $10 million in a year if the ratings hold up. This is especially true if the sitcom remains popular years after it is over (like a certain someone on our list).
For those that have made most us laugh over the years, their reward has been millions of dollars and fame. Who ranks among the highest paid comedians of all-time? Here are the 10 richest stand-up comedians (and no, Dane Cook is not on the list).
#1 – Jerry Seinfeld ($800 Million)
Did you know Jerry Seinfeld’s real first name is Jerome? Well, it’s true, and Jerome has put his observational comedy to good use. “Seinfeld”, the ‘show about nothing’ was a massive success. It gained such a large following after it was canceled that Jerry Seinfeld still nets millions each year from re-run residuals. Yet, you still can’t watch it on Netflix, which is a tragedy.
Jerry still makes a killing doing the occasional comedy tour, and now actually gets to make money shooting a web series about driving around with his comedy friends and drinking coffee. Life has been good for the family friendly comedian, so good in fact that Jerry is one of the richest actors on the planet.
#2 – Bill Cosby ($350 Million)
Although he is facing controversy right now due to allegations from former colleagues, the patriarch on “The Cosby Show” has had many different avenues of wealth. Although they didn’t make him much money, a lot of people remember him from “Ghost Dad” and “Leonard Part 6″, just because they were so bad. We’ll see if his net worth takes a tumble in early 2015. There seems to be a lot of lawsuits incoming.
#3 – Jay Leno ($250 Million)
At the height of his NBC payout, Jay Leno was making $30 million a year from the network after re-taking his spot from Conan O’Brien. However, “The Daily Show” did better in the ratings, so Leno agreed to take a pay cut down to $20 million. The poor guy was so distraught that he let Jimmy Fallon take his show over just as one final “screw you” to Conan. Now in retirement, Leno is spending most of his time buying and driving cars.
#4 – Drew Carey ($165 Million)
A lot of people don’t realize that “The Drew Carey Show” lasted for nearly 10 years, probably because not many people watched the final couple of seasons. The show and its re-runs netted Drew millions, and now he is adding on to it.
Drew lost a lot of weight and won the role as the host of “The Price Is Right”, after Bob Barker retired in a bit of great timing. Now, Drew has a cash flow that will seemingly last the rest of his life. It’s a pretty easy job to watch people spin a wheel, make guesses on prices, and tell viewers to have their pets fixed.
#5 – Ray Romano ($120 Million)
A lot of people were excited to see what Ray Romano could do with a movie career after the wildly successful “Everybody Loves Raymond” series, and his voice work on “Ice Age”. His first lead role in a live action movie was a stinker, though, in “Welcome To Mooseport”.
Since then, Ray Romano has been making cameos and recurring roles on shows, probably just for the sake of staying busy. He’s an avid golfer who has enough free time and money to play anywhere in the world thanks to a good stand-up career and a great sitcom (about being the nasally voice of reason in an annoying family.)
#6 – Bob Saget ($100 Million)
The father figure on “Full House” is actually one of the most vulgar stand-up comedians in the world. It has been well over a decade since that show ended, so how is he still so rich? He was paid handsomely toward the end of the show’s run, and has also made more money than anybody ever should for hosting “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.
Bob’s been smart with his money. He hasn’t had to resort to doing awful movies and shows just for a paycheck. Bob’s narration as the voice of Ted Mosby on “How I Met Your Mother” is a confusing one, since the character was already an adult, but people seemed to enjoy it. It’s hard to believe the guy who played a character in “Half Baked” that did sexual favors for money is worth that much, but here we are.
#7 – Jeff Foxworthy ($100 Million)
There is a common theme on this list, and it’s the fact that most comedians who have become filthy rich have had a long running sitcom. Jeff Foxworthy did have a sitcom, but it was short lived, and quite frankly, not very good. Think of it as the poor man’s “Home Improvement”. He didn’t need to bank in on television to make his money, though, as “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour” has created insane profits. Jeff is also the one that unleashed “Larry The Cable Guy” on the world, so take that for what it’s worth.
Enough people are willing to go see the tour and the movie specials in theaters to make him wealthy. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Jeff probably doesn’t care after looking at his bank account.
#8 – Roseanne Barr ($80 Million)
Nobody can ever forget Roseanne’s ear shattering voice and constant yelling as a stand-up comedian. She became such a successful act, that she was given her own sitcom. While most comedians strike out on their sitcom chance, Roseanne hit it out of the park.
Her show lasted for 222 episodes and re-runs have continued to make Roseanne very wealthy. The funny thing is, she is probably the third most recognizable person from her show, after A-listers George Clooney and “The Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki.
#9 – Ricky Gervais ($80 Million)
Ricky Gervais is the only comedian on this list that comes from outside of the United States. He hasn’t had many hit movies or television shows in America, but his work across the pond has netted him a large chunk of money (especially when taking his show on the road and touring through Europe.)
Ricky was the creator of the original version of “The Office” which lasted nearly 200 episodes less than the American version. Still, he has made plenty of money to live off of, and he now spends most of his time being the voice of Atheists around the world on Twitter.
#10 – Kevin James ($80 Million)
Kevin James might not be the most household name when it comes to his movie career. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Here Comes The Boom” weren’t exactly Oscar worthy, but Kevin still got a big paycheck for both movies. A big bulk of the bulky comedian’s money came from starring in the long running sitcom, “The King of Queens”.
Being friends with Adam Sandler (who happens to be one of the richest actors on the planet) has definitely had its advantages for Kevin. He gets paid just to goof around with his pals in front of a camera in the “Grown Ups” movies. Kudos to Kevin for capitalizing on his long career, he’s earned it.