Most stand-up comics are barely getting by. Many are happy if they can make it onto a stage and elated if people laugh at their jokes. Stand-up comedy is a difficult art, but some people make it look very, very easy.
Those who make it look easy are the people on this list. They’re so good at stand-up comedy they’ve parlayed their careers into television, movies, and even late-night hosting gigs.
They’ve made incredible amounts of money, proving that sometimes it pays to be funny. These are the funniest and richest stand-up comedians who are still alive today:
35. Eddie Izzard – $20 million
Beginning the list of richest and funniest stand-up comedians is Eddie Izzard. This guy is seriously funny and has managed to make a career of cleverly stringing words together despite having dyslexia.
Known for her surreal and digressive stand-up, English stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and activist Eddie Izzard is genderfluid and calls herself “somewhat boy-ish and somewhat girl-ish” (Credit: Karl Nesh / Shutterstock)
He’s known for some of his television work and has two Emmy Awards to show for it.
34. Albert Brooks – $30 million
Award-winning actor Albert Brooks began his career in comedy as a stand-up comedian, but he is best known for his film and television career.
Albert Brooks left the stand-up circuit to try his hand as a filmmaker in the 1970s (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
The Oscar-nominated actor has starred in well-known titles such as Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets.
33. Whitney Cummings – $35 million
Whitney Cummings has been in the entertainment industry for years.
Whitney Cummings started in stand-up comedy in 2004, but she has become more popular behind the scenes for creating the sitcoms Whitney and 2 Broke Girls (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
32. Chelsea Handler – $35 million
Chelsea Handler is known for her raunchy humor. She is always pushing the envelope and talking about things that some people think shouldn’t be talked about, but it’s made her a lot of money.
Chelsea Handler decided to pursue stand-up comedy at 21 and later hosted her own sketch comedy series on E! network (Credit: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock)
Aside from her stand-up, she has also starred in her own late-night television programs and has written best-selling books.
31. Kathy Griffin – $35 million
Kathy Griffin is another famous comedian who is very well known for her distinct comedic style. She, like Handler, is known for being outspoken, but she’s also known for being funny.
Kathy Griffin has recorded numerous stand-up comedy specials for HBO and Bravo, earning her a Guinness world record for “Most Stand-Up Specials by a Comedian” (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
She’s won multiple Emmys and a Grammy Award and is known for her reality television show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.
30. Louis C.K. – $35 million
Funnyman Louis C.K. may not be the richest person on this list, but he’s quite possibly the funniest. He parlayed his stand-up prowess into a career that covers nearly all aspects of the entertainment industry.
Emmy-winning comedian Louis C.K. returned to stand-up comedy in 2018 after admitting to several incidents of sexual misconduct in 2017 (Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock)
He’s been in films, he’s been in television series, he’s written, he’s directed, and for all of his work, he has won several awards, including six Primetime Emmys.
29. Amy Schumer – $45 million
There aren’t many women on this list, but the ones who did prove that women are just as funny as men.
One such individual is Amy Schumer, known for her hysterical stand-up routine and her role on Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central.
She started her standup career in 2004 and gained exposure in 2007 after competing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Schumer signed an $11 million deal with Netflix for her The Leather Special and demanded an extra $2 million after learning that her male counterparts were being paid more.
Actress Amy Schumer ventured into comedy in the early 2000s before appearing as a contestant on the fifth season of the NBC reality competition series Last Comic Standing in 2007 (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
Schumer has also written books and appeared in several movies and TV shows, including her own Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, for which she reportedly earned a significant salary. She also has inked endorsement deals with top brands like Old Navy, Tampax, and Bud Light.
While accused of stealing jokes, Amy Schumer has made some serious money from her stand-up career thanks to striking multi-million dollar deals with media juggernauts like Netflix.
28. George Lopez – $45 million
Mexican-American George Lopez is a stand-up comedian who became popular for some of his work with HBO, as well as his starring role on the sitcom George Lopez.
George Lopez is known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom and for using his difficult childhood experiences for his stand-up comedy (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
His autobiography was a New York Times best-seller, and he has been lauded for the work he’s done for the Mexican-American community.
27. Dave Chappelle – $60 million
Like Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle is not the richest person on this list, but he’s definitely in the running for the funniest. Chapelle made a name for himself, starring in movies and television shows.
Stand-up comedian and actor Dave Chappelle is known for his satirical comedy sketch series Chappelle’s Show (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
He has won some of the most prestigious awards an entertainer can win, including Emmys, Grammys, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which only a few other people on this list have received.
26. Howie Mandel – $60 million
Howie Mandel is a stand-up comedian and television host best known for his work on the popular game show Deal or No Deal.
Before becoming a well-known TV personality and host, Howie Mandel started out in stand-up comedy in the late 1970s (Credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock)
He’s also been a judge on America’s Got Talent and has been very vocal about his struggles living with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
25. Chris Rock – $60 million
Chris Rock has starred in some of the most recognizable stand-up sets in history, and he’s often regarded as one of the best stand-up comedians of all time.
One of the most respected and recognized comedians ever, Chris Rock has been making people laugh with his raw humor for decades (Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock)
Rock has earned most of his money from his film and television career, lending his talent to projects like The Longest Yard, Madagascar, Grown Ups, and the television show about his life, Everybody Hates Chris.
24. Bob Newhart – $65 million
Bob Newhart is a classic comedian who’s been in the entertainment industry for decades. He’s inspired millions, including some of the people on this list.
A household name in stand-up comedy, Grammy and Emmy winner Bob Newhart is known for his deadpan and slightly stammering delivery style (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
He is a legend in the comedy and television world, thanks to his titular variety program, the Bob Newhart Show. After starring in the sitcom, he appeared in other variety and television shows and starred in the popular ‘80s sitcom Newhart.
He is among the few to have been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
23. Russell Peters – $75 million
Canadian actor Russell Peters is one of the most popular stand-up comedians in the world, and his net worth reflects it.
Russell Peters was third on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid comedians in 2013 and became the first comedian to get a Netflix stand-up special (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
He has been in several films and television shows over the years, has taken home many awards and is one of the comedians we have to thank for making Netflix the home to so many iconic stand-up specials, as he is one of the first to have had his work appear on the streaming service.
22. Roseanne Barr – $80 million
Actress Roseanne Barr started her career in stand-up comedy, but she is best known for her eponymous role on Roseanne, one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
Roseanne Barr began her career in stand-up comedy before gaining acclaim in the television sitcom Roseanne, for which she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
She’s also one of the few lucky actors from her time to have gotten a reboot of their show, although it didn’t last long due to racist remarks made by Barr.
21. Martin Lawrence – $110 million
Few people have had a stand-up career like Martin Lawrence. The hilarious man has made tons of money over the course of his career, mostly thanks to his film and television career, including the Bad Boys franchise.
Martin Lawrence got his start playing Maurice Warfield in What’s Happening Now!! in 1987, and in 1994, he was banned from NBC after making crude remarks about women’s genitalia and personal hygiene (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
Many people on this list have hosted, written for, or been a cast member on the legendary television show Saturday Night Live, but Lawrence is the only person on this list to have been permanently banned from the set due to offensive remarks he made when hosting years ago.
20. Jon Stewart – $120 million
Jon Stewart also made his career debut in stand-up comedy, but he is best known for hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
Best known for his satirical news program, The Daily Show, Jon Stewart now hosts The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV+ (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
He won 20 Emmy Awards during his time on the show, and he is about to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
19. Woody Allen – $140 million
Woody Allen is one of the most famous screenwriters of all time, but before writing some of our favorite comedies, he was performing stand-up.
With a career spanning more than six decades, Woody Allen has received multiple accolades, including four Academy Awards—one for Best Director and three for Best Original Screenplay (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
He’s released several comedy albums and has even been nominated for a Grammy for one of them. Despite his great work as a comic, Allen will be remembered for his work as a screenwriter.
18. Steve Martin – $140 million
Few people in the world are as funny as Steve Martin. Another person on this list to have won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Martin is the only person on this list to have the honor of being part of the Five-Timers Club, a list of people who have hosted Saturday Night Live at least five times.
A member of the Five-Timers Club, Grammy-winning banjo player Steve Martin has appeared on twenty-seven Saturday Night Live shows and guest-hosted fifteen times (Credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock)
17. Ricky Gervais – $140 million
If you love a popular sitcom, you just might have Ricky Gervais to thank for it. Gervais has found success performing stand-up comedy, but he’s been more prolific in his television career.
Ricky Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s, but he’s best known for co-creating, co-writing, and acting in the British television mockumentary sitcom The Office (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
His biggest success was creating the legendary sitcom The Office, which ran in England before being adapted in the United States.
16. Jeff Dunham – $140 million
Each person on this list has his or her own comedic talents and styles, but few are quite as unique as Jeff Dunham’s.
Ventriloquist and stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham achieved the Guinness Book of World Record for “Most tickets sold for a stand-up comedy tour” for his Spark of Insanity tour in 2014 (Credit: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock)
Dunham is best known for his work as a ventriloquist, and he has won the world over with his act and some of his famous puppets, including Walter, Peanut, and Little Jeff.
15. Bill Maher – $140 million
Bill Maher is another stand-up comedian who has earned the bulk of his money from other ventures, such as his television show Real Time with Bill Maher, where he shares his political opinions.
Known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary, Bill Maher has amassed his net worth not only from his shows but also from acquiring a minority stake in the New York Mets (Credit: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock)
He’s also well-known for investing in Major League Baseball team the New York Mets.
14. Terry Fator – $160 million
Terry Fator is another comedian who is known for his work in ventriloquism. The comedian has starred worldwide and has even headlined a show at The Mirage hotel in Las Vegas.
Terry Fator combines ventriloquism and singing with comedy and gained national recognition for his talent after winning the second season of America’s Got Talent (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
13. Drew Carey – $165 million
Stand-up comedian Drew Carey is a very funny man known for some huge hosting gigs.
Today he is the host of The Price is Right, but before that, he starred on The Drew Carey Show and was a part of the improv show Whose Line is It Anyway?.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and making a name for himself in stand-up comedy, Drew Carey gained stardom in his sitcom, The Drew Carey Show, and as host of the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the game show The Price Is Right (Credit: Joe Seer / Shutterstock)
12. Jim Carrey – $180 million
Although Jim Carrey has had a career in stand-up comedy, he is best known for his incredibly illustrious film career.
There isn’t enough space on a page to list all of the classic films that Carrey has starred in, but some include The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show, Bruce Almighty, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Jim Carrey’s first stand-up comedy experience took place in 1977 at the age of 15 but he first gained recognition in 1990 for his recurring role in the sketch comedy TV series In Living Color (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
Carrey will undoubtedly go down as one of the most prolific comedic film actors of all time.
11. Eddie Murphy – $200 million
Comedian Eddie Murphy has done it all: stand-up specials, films, and even a stint on Saturday Night Live. After his time on the sketch comedy show, Murphy had an incredibly successful film career.
Eddie Murphy began doing stand-up comedy as a teenager and rose to fame when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
He’s been in movies like Shrek, The Nutty Professor, Coming to America, and Beverly Hills Cop. He then proved his true acting abilities in the musical film Dreamgirls, for which he earned an Oscar nomination.
Murphy has also been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
10. Steve Harvey – $200 million
Steve Harvey was a successful stand-up comic when he first started his career, and he has had some success in the film industry. But these days, Harvey is best known for his job hosting the popular game show Family Feud.
Best known for hosting Family Feud and the Miss Universe competition, former stand-up comedian Steve Harvey became the first double host nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award, receiving nominations for both Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Game Show Host in 2013 (Credit: Joe Seer / Shutterstock)
9. Ray Romano – $200 million
Raymond Romano is not only one of the most popular stand-up comedians of all time, but he’s also one of the most popular sitcom stars of all time.
Ray Romano became the highest-paid television actor in 2004 for his role of Raymond on CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond (Credit: Eugene Powers / Shutterstock)
He rose to prominence starring on his television show Everybody Loves Raymond and was once the highest-paid television actor in history.
8. Bill Cosby – $400 million
William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. is another one of the most famous stand-up comedians-turned-sitcom stars.
Bill Cosby began his career as a stand-up comic during the 1960s and throughout the decade he released several stand-up comedy records which earned him the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album from 1965 to 1970 (Credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock)
He starred in one of the most popular television shows of all time, The Cosby Show, but much of his career has been overshadowed due to sexual misconduct and subsequent jail time.
Despite that, he has remained one of the richest male comedians of all time.
7. David Letterman – $400 million
Legendary comedian David Letterman earned his fame by hosting the popular late-night television show Late Night with David Letterman.
David Letterman hosted the late night television talk show Late Night with David Letterman for 33 years, from 1982 to 2015, making him the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history (Credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock)
He hosted the show for decades, and his work earned him many honors, including The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
6. Larry David – $400 million
Comedian, writer, actor, director, and television producer Larry David has amused many a crowd with his stand-up comedy routines, but he has amused even more people by creating the shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the latter of which he stars in.
Larry David is best known as a co-creator of the television series Seinfeld, on which he was head writer and executive producer for the first seven seasons, and as the creator and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock)
David earned $75 million when he sold Seinfeld to Netflix.
5. Adam Sandler – $440 million
After performing his stand-up routine around the United States, Adam Sandler went on to star in Saturday Night Live, as well as some of the most iconic comedies of the ‘90s and 2000s.
Sandler began performing standup at 17, and after graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he landed a gig as a writer and performer on MTV’s Remote Control.
Known for his comedic roles, Adam Sandler began performing stand-up in New England when he was just 17 and skyrocketed to fame when he joined Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995 (Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock)
He got famous after being cast as an SNL regular from 1990 to 1995, and he parlayed that fame into a burgeoning film career.
Sandler reportedly makes $20 million per movie, and he has had several box office hits, including Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Grown Ups, and Hubie Halloween.
Sandler founded his own production company, Happy Madison, which produces movies that he stars in, as well as projects for his real-life buddies. In 2014, Adam Sandler signed a lucrative deal with Netflix worth $250 million, which required him to produce six movies for the streaming service.
In January 2020, Sandler and Netflix renewed their deal for another four films, with the financial details remaining undisclosed. However, based on the success of the first six movies, it’s estimated that the deal’s value is likely to be equal to or greater than the original $250 million agreement.
4. Kevin Hart – $450 million
Although Kevin Hart has had a successful film career and earned a lot of money from it, he may be one of the only people on this list to have earned his career reputation more so from his work in stand-up than his work in film, which is a testament to his talent.
Much of his work can be found on Netflix, both his movies and his stand-up. Hart’s income varies depending on his projects and touring schedule, with his annual income ranging from $40 million to $60 million.
He reportedly earned $70 million from his “What Now?” Tour from 2015 to 2016. Hart also earns from endorsements and commercial deals with brands like Chase, DraftKings, H&M, and Foot Locker.
Kevin Hart began his career by winning several amateur comedy competitions at clubs throughout New England and came to prominence from his guest appearance in the sitcom Undeclared (Credit: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock)
The comedian owns an 85% stake in Hartbeat, a new media venture valued at $650 million. Hart uses social media to maximize his profits and capitalize on his growing following, and he was the second-highest-paid comedian in 2017, earning $32.5 million.
Hart has starred in movies like “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Jumanji,” and “Central Intelligence.” In 2018, he released the first film from his HartBeat Productions with Night School, co-starring with longtime friend Tiffany Haddish.
3. Jay Leno – $450 million
Another winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Jay Leno, is one of the richest stand-up comics of all time. Most of his earnings come from his time hosting the popular late-night television show The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
After doing stand-up comedy for years, Jay Leno rose to fame for hosting NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2009, Jay Leno’s Garage since 2015, and the on-going 2021 revival of You Bet Your Life (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
2. Ellen DeGeneres – $500 million
Ellen DeGeneres is in a league of her own as far as female stand-up comedians go.
Thanks to a starring sitcom role, as well as her time hosting her popular daytime show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, DeGeneres has earned an enormous fortune over the course of her career.
Ellen DeGeneres started her stand-up career in the early 1980s before starring in her own television sitcom, Ellen, from 1994 to 1998, and talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, from 2003 to May 2022 (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
Many people will also remember her as the voice of the world’s most beloved fish, Dory, in the Pixar films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.
1. Jerry Seinfeld – $950 million
Nobody knew that it was possible to make so much money as a stand-up comedian until Jerry Seinfeld did. Not only is he the richest comedian in the world, but he is also quite possibly the funniest.
Jerry Seinfeld developed an interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions and rose to fame in 1989 when he created the sitcom Seinfeld (Credit: Ian Young Nounpusher / Shutterstock)
Seinfeld is known for his starring role in the sitcom Seinfeld, but he’s just as well-known for his legendary stand-up career and some of the iconic bits he has created.
He initially made $20,000 per episode of Seinfeld, which increased to $1 million per episode in season 9. Seinfeld has made millions more through syndication, streaming, and other ventures, including Microsoft ads and his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series.
Despite the potential for a $110 million payday, Seinfeld turned down a 10th season of Seinfeld, citing the importance of proportion in art.