Some stand ups tour for years and never sell out anything more than small clubs, while some reach an unfathomable level of stardom and wealth that sends them into the A-List stratosphere. Most of the world's richest stand up comedians are legendary household names and have earned income from selling out huge stadiums and concert halls in the United States, but some have even found international success, too.
These wealthy stand up comedians have been top earners for years. Many of these comedians earn additional income outside selling tickets for their shows. Some have starred in highly successful sitcoms – some of those sitcoms are still on the air while others have finished but continue to earn their stars big checks from syndication deals. A few of these comedians have even received paydays from starring in successful movies or hosting talk shows.
These comedians have taken advantage of their successful comedy career and some even have production companies that earn them income as well. Whether you think these stand ups are funny enough to be worthy of their status is debatable, but the fact is that these stand up comedians bring home the big bucks. These 10 richest stand up comedians still tour to this day (so, even though Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey got their starts doing stand up, you won't find them on this list because these days they've graduated to the realm of movie stars and no longer perform stand up.)
10. Kevin James, estimated net worth: $80 million USD
You might know him as Adam Sandler’s new pal, but before he was Paul Blart: Mall Cop James parlayed his successful stand up routine into a popular CBS sitcom called the King of Queens. On the King of Queens he was Doug Heffernan, who was the typical fat guy with a hot wife, a common formula in the sitcom world. Even though most of his income is generated from starring in movies produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company and his syndication earnings from the King of Queens, James still performs stand up throughout the US and Canada on a frequent basis. He’s one of the few comedians who can sell out shows in Vegas.
1 Ricky Gervais, estimated net worth: $80 million USD
Ricky Gervais obviously has an unbridled work ethic and he’s the master of nearly every entertainment medium, but his big paydays come from sitting back and reaping the rewards of his earlier hard work. As an executive producer of the American version of The Office, which is based on his UK series, he receives plenty of syndication money. "It wasn’t my baby. It was my rights, so I cashed the checks,” he told GQ. He is currently working on his fifth stand up show, which will be titled “Humanity.”
8. Roseanne Barr, estimated net worth: $80 million USD
The only comedienne on this list, Roseanne is most famous for her groundbreaking eponymous sitcom that debuted in the late eighties. Portraying a more realistic view of family life in middle America, the sitcom played to her strengths as an obnoxious and somewhat abrasive wife and mother. Many consider her to be the greatest female stand up of all time, and she returned to the world of stand up in 2005 when she launched her world tour. In 2012 she even ran for president, placing sixth.
7. Jeff Foxworthy, estimated net worth: $100 million
While all the members of “the Blue Collar Comedy Tour” have found massive success, Jeff Foxworthy is still the blue-collar king compared to his compadres Ron White, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy. He now earns less from stand up compared to White or Larry the Cable Guy, but his empire will likely keep any of his blue-collar cronies from surpassing his net worth. Foxworthy has guest starred on Shark Tank, the popular entrepreneurial venture reality show, and he is the top-selling comedy recording artist in history. Can he still call himself a redneck if he’s so rich?
6. Bob Saget, estimated net worth: $100 million
If you only know this crude comic from his role as Danny Tanner on Full House then you're in for a rude awakening. He probably can't work clean, but that just means fans will pay more to see this legendary stand up talk rude about the Olsen twins. Full House lasted eight seasons so he receives income from syndication deals and he regularly sells out his stand up shows. He is also well known for being the original host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. TV star and stand up aren’t Saget’s only accomplishments; he also directed the cult comedy film Dirty Work.
5. Ray Romano, estimated net worth: $120 million
Everybody loves Ray Romano enough to pay him millions of dollars. Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for nine seasons on CBS, earns Romano big bucks, as does his voice work in the Ice Age films (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the seventh highest grossing animated film of all time). His most recent starring role on television was in the short-lived but critically acclaimed TNT dramedy Men of a Certain Age, for which he also served as executive producer and co-creator. Romano regularly performs in Vegas and sometimes with his pal and fellow uber-wealthy comedian Kevin James.
4. Drew Carey, estimated net worth: $165 million
He may have slimmed down, but his wallet keeps getting bigger and bigger. Aside from syndication money from the ABC sitcom the Drew Carey Show, this Ohio funnyman also earns big bucks while enticing excited contestants to come on down as the current host of The Price is Right. He is an avid soccer fan and part owner of the pro-soccer team the Seattle Sounders.
3. Jay Leno, estimated net worth: $250 million
Jay Leno is a workhorse when it comes to touring as a stand up comic. He’s been doing it practically non stop since the 70s, and even when he was hosting the Tonight Show he still managed to do numerous shows a month. While there is speculation that he may return to TV and earn more fat paychecks, one thing is certain: he will continue to sell out Vegas for many more years. Leno famously has not spent a single cent of his talk show host salary and financed his day-to-day expenses and extravagant car collection using only his stand up earnings.
2. Bill Cosby, estimated net worth: $350 million
It was evident that Bill Cosby was smart about his money ever since Dr. Huxtable lectured Theo about getting a job on The Cosby Show. While his movie career was a flop, Bill Cosby has found critical and financial success on television and the stand up circuit. You are probably aware of his work on the hugely successful the Cosby Show, but Bill Cosby starred in two other sitcoms that have syndication deals: The Bill Cosby Show and Cosby. He also starred in the successful 60s espionage program I Spy where he showcased his dramatic acting abilities. Cosby has become a favorite guest of Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show and Late Night, and he still performs stand up to this day even though he is 76 years old.
1. Jerry Seinfeld, estimated net worth: $800 million
As the star of and co-creator of Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld receives massive payouts from syndications deals. As of July, 2013 he earned an astounding $27 million from stand up dates during the previous 12 months. Seinfeld has earned a staggering $2.7 billion since the show has gone off the air, and Jerry Seinfeld has lined his pockets with a good chunk of that. Seinfeld earned $32 million in the first six months of last year alone and he earned a total of $32 million in 2008. His web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was recently renewed for six additional seasons.