Making people laugh is harder than making them cry. That is why comedians actually have a harder task in entertaining their audience. Comedy is serious business and the real successful ones earn serious money. Here is a list of the top 10 richest comedians in terms of net worth.
1. Jerry Seinfeld – $850 million
He is known for his observational humor and his funny insights on personal relationships and uncomfortable social obligations. He starred in “Seinfeld,” one of the most popular and most successful sitcoms of all time. The series was a semi-fictional depiction of his life as a stand-up comedian. It proved to be immensely popular even after its finale in 1998. Syndicated re-runs and DVD releases have made Seinfeld an immensely rich man. Not that he was not yet rich to begin with, as he was said to have received $5 million per episode back then. He has also appeared as an endorser of Windows. He is also known for his collection of classic cars, particular rare and expensive Porsches.
2. Larry David – $665 million
He was the co-creator of “Seinfeld” and he was the one responsible for some of its most memorable episodes. He wrote the episode entitled “The Contest” that has been ranked as the best episode of any series of all time. He then created another series called “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which is a semi-fictional depiction of his life after he earned millions with “Seinfeld.” All the four stars of “Seinfeld” have made guest appearances in his new show, including a story arc about a reunion show. He is still raking in money from the royalties of the old show.
3. David Letterman – $430 million
He is a well-known late night talk show host, but every viewer knows that his stand up act is the high point of each show. He has been a fixture in the late time slots ever since he made his debut in 1982 with NBC. After Johnny Carson retired, NBC chose Jay Leno to take over “The Tonight Show.” Letterman thereafter transferred his “Late Night with David Letterman” show to CBS, renaming it as the “Late Show with David Letterman.” His production outfit called Worldwide Pants produces the show, as well as its follow up called “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” It was also behind the well-loved “Everybody Loves Raymond” series.
4. Adam Sandler – $325 million
He started out as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” He then featured in blockbuster comedies such as “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “The Waterboy,” “Big Daddy” and “Mr. Deeds.” Most of his movies were able to gross more than $100 million in the box office. In 1999, he created a production outfit called Happy Madison, which is responsible for the television series called “Rules of Engagement.”
5. Jay Leno – $190 million
He succeeded Johnny Carson when NBC handled him the mantle of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 1992. It was a controversial choice as a lot of people expected David Letterman to get the job. The show ranked highly and Leno did not miss a single show until April 2009, just a month before he was to turn over the show to Conan O’Brien. By September 2009, Leno was back on air through “The Jay Leno Show.” It did not last long, however. Poor ratings forced NBC to put back Leno on “The Tonight Show” in March 2010. Leno saves all his earnings from his shows and uses only the income he earns from his stand up acts. He also collects cars and motorcycles, owning around 90 vehicles.
6. Jim Carrey – $165 million
He is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, with the Canadian American actor being well known for his energetic slapstick routines. He first came into the limelight through movies like “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Mask” and “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.” He then got nominations for his performances in “Liar Liar,” “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” He won Golden Globes for the two middle shows.
7. Robin Williams – $140 million
He was a struggling comedian in the 1970s that rose to fame through the television series “Mork & Mindy.” He featured in many feature films after, including critically acclaimed and even award-winning performances in non-comedy movies, like “Dead Poet’s Society,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Awakenings,” “The Fisher King” and “Good Will Hunting.” Williams is especially known for his ability to improvise and impersonations. The lines he delivers are usually impromptu and presented in quick succession.
8. Ben Stiller – $135 million
His movies have earned more than $2.1 billion in the United States and Canada, with each film averaging $73 million in take. He made his directorial debut in the movie called “Reality Bites” that starred Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo. He then featured in various movies as an actor, director, producer and/or writer, including films like “There’s Something About Mary,” “Zoolander,” “Meet the Parents,” “Dodgeball,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Night at the Museum” and “Madagascar.”
9. Ray Romano – $120 million
He started out as a participant in a comedy contest in 1989. After being fired in the sitcom “NewsRadio” where he was slated to be one of the major characters, Romano started appearing in the “Late Show with David Letterman” doing stand up routines. As a result, he was able to form ties with the network. He was then offered to star in his own show called “Everybody Loves Raymond” that had a format that was more suited to his style and humor. Letterman’s production outfit Worldwide Pants was behind the show.
10. Ricky Gervais – $80 million
He was the man responsible for “The Office,” a show that originally ran for 12 episodes on BBC Two. The show’s mockumentary format was adopted in a U.S. version of the show. The American series is now into its ninth season, earning for Gervais millions in royalties. The show also has its own version in France, Canada, Germany, Chile, Israel and Sweden. A Chinese version is also in the works. Gervais also starred in another British hit sitcom called “Extras.”
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