Comedy has been a popular form of entertainment for centuries, and comedians have been making us laugh and forget our worries for just as long. But it’s not just the audience that benefits from this art form – some comedians have made millions from their talent. From creating hit television shows to starring in blockbuster movies, these 20 comedians have not only tickled our funny bones but also built massive fortunes.
1. Jerry Seinfeld – $950 million
Jerry Seinfeld is a man of many talents: comedian, producer and actor. He owes the bulk of his wealth to the wildly successful sitcom “Seinfeld,” which still brings in massive syndication royalties. Jerry’s smart investment in the show’s backend equity points ensures he continues to reap financial rewards from global syndication sales, making him the richest comedian in the world.
2. Byron Allen – $800 million
Byron Allen is a Hollywood powerhouse with a net worth of $800 million, yet he’s relatively unknown compared to other moguls. As the head of Entertainment Studios and owner of Allen Media Group, he’s quietly built a media empire with 12 cable networks and 70 TV shows that air on stations nationwide. And let’s not forget his 2018 acquisition of The Weather Channel, making him a force to be reckoned with in the media industry.
3. Matt Stone – $700 million
Matt Stone is a writer, producer, and voice actor who co-created the satirical animated show “South Park” with Trey Parker. Stone’s fortune comes from his extensive work on the hit show, which has been on the air for over two decades. He has also directed and produced several movies, including “Team America: World Police” and “The Book of Mormon.”
4. Matt Groening – $600 million
Imagine a world without “The Simpsons”? It’s hard to believe that the beloved animated show has been a part of our lives for over three decades. Thanks to the creative genius of Matt Groening, the series has become a cultural phenomenon and a commercial powerhouse. Groening is one of the wealthiest animators in the world, and his legacy will continue to entertain generations to come.
5. Trey Parker – $600 million
Renowned as one half of the creative duo behind the groundbreaking show “South Park”, Trey Parker boasts a diverse range of skills as a writer, director, composer, animator and actor. Parker and his creative partner, Matt Stone, developed the concept for “South Park” from a series of short films they created while still in college. Their initial work, including the now-classic “Jesus vs. Santa”, caught the eye of network executives and paved the way for their meteoric rise to fame.
6. Ellen DeGeneres – $500 million
Ellen DeGeneres is the only woman to feature on the list. Her popular sitcom “Ellen” broke barriers for the LGBTQ+ community in the 90s, and her talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” redefined daytime TV for 19 seasons. Ellen’s influence extends far beyond her shows, as she has used her platform for philanthropy and activism.
7. Kevin Hart – $450 million
Kevin Hart is a stand-up comedian and actor who has starred in several box office hits including “Ride Along,” “Central Intelligence,” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” With a net worth of $450 million, Hart earned his money from stand-up comedy tours, movie deals, and endorsement deals with brands like Nike and H&M.
8. Jay Leno – $450 million
Jay Leno is more than just a comedian and former late-night host; he’s also a serious car enthusiast. With over 300 vehicles in his stable, Leno’s collection is valued at a minimum of $100 million. But don’t let the cars distract you from his impressive earnings – during his tenure on The Tonight Show, Jay raked in a whopping $320 million in salary, before taxes.
9. Adam Sandler – $420 million
Adam Sandler has built an empire worth $420 million through his career as an actor, comedian, and producer. After making a name for himself on Saturday Night Live, he took Hollywood by storm and became one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world. Today, he rakes in $50-60 million annually from his various endeavors, cementing his status as a comedy icon.
10. Larry David – $400 million
Larry David, the American comedic genius, has a net worth of $400 million. He’s the mastermind behind two famous comedy sitcoms, “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” both of which have made audiences worldwide laugh uncontrollably. With a career spanning over three decades, Larry David continues to bring joy to fans through his unique sense of humor and incredible storytelling.
11. Bill Cosby – $400 million
Bill Cosby is a stand-up comedian, actor, musician, and author. He rose to fame in the 1960s with his stand-up comedy routines and went on to star in several successful television shows, including “The Cosby Show” and “Cosby.”
12. David Letterman – $400 million
As one of the pioneers of the late-night talk show format, David Letterman has made a $400 million fortune. Letterman’s career has been nothing short of a massive success. Though he may not be earning the same astronomical figures he once was, his impact on the world of comedy and television remains immeasurable.
13. Seth MacFarlane – $300 million
Seth MacFarlane is not just a mastermind behind one, but FOUR successful TV shows. MacFarlane has managed to create iconic shows like “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “The Orville,” each earning immense popularity and huge revenue through syndication, DVDs, and merchandise sales. Seth’s talent and business acumen has given him a net worth of $300 million.
14. Dan Aykroyd – $250 million
Dan Aykroyd is a Canadian comedian, actor, screenwriter, and entrepreneur with a net worth of $250 million. Aykroyd’s career features iconic roles in “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters.” He is also a member of The Blues Brothers, a band that began as a sketch and went double platinum. Aykroyd co-founded House of Blues and launched Crystal Head Vodka, which now generates over $80 million in revenue.
15. Ray Romano – $200 million
As a comedian turned actor and writer, Ray Romano has amassed a net worth of $200 million. Most known for his iconic role on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, he has also made appearances in various TV and film projects. However, Romano’s skills extend beyond entertainment, as he has competed professionally in poker tournaments and is an avid golfer in his free time.
16. Conan O’Brien – $200 million
With a net worth of $200 million, Conan has hosted late-night comedy shows on NBC and TBS for almost 30 years. His recent success in podcasting led to a lucrative deal with SiriusXM for $150 million, making him one of the richest comedians in the business.
17. Steve Harvey – $200 million
Steve Harvey is an American comedian, businessman, and show host. Harvey rose to fame as a standup comic in the 1980s and has since starred in his sitcom, “The Steve Harvey Show,” and produced the show. He now hosts the nationally-syndicated radio show “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and two popular game shows, “Family Feud” and “Celebrity Family Feud”. He earns a whopping $40 million annually, with $10 million coming from “Family Feud” and $20 million from his radio show.
18. Bill Murray – $180 million
Bill Murray has cemented his place as a comedic icon. From his unforgettable performances in Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day to his recent roles in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Zombieland: Double Tap, Murray’s deadpan humor and natural talent have earned him several accolades and a place in the hearts of fans worldwide.
19. Drew Carey – $165 million
Drew Carey is a legendary comedian, actor, and television host, known as the quick wit host of “The Price is Right”. Drew’s fame skyrocketed as the lead actor in “The Drew Carey Show”, where he earned an impressive $1 million per episode. Drew Carey is a true icon in the entertainment industry.
20. Sacha Baron Cohen – $160 million
From Kazakhstan to Hollywood, Sacha Baron Cohen has been entertaining audiences with his outlandish characters for decades. The English actor and comedian has received numerous awards, including several MTV Movie awards and a Golden Globe. Nominated for Emmys and an Oscar, he continues to push the boundaries of comedy. “The Times” rated him among the top 30 comedians in the world for 2018.