Through a combination of our greed and the desire to improve the quality of human life, we have created a stressful but efficient world. All of this, according to scientists, despite the improvements to our physical state has been damaging to our mental and emotional state.
The more our physical lives improved, the more our mental and emotional deteriorated. It is why comedy has come in handy, and in no other time in human history has comedy become a necessary tool to cope with existence than in our current time, where up is down, and down is up.
This necessity has provided a constant stream of financial gain for talented people who are great comedians. Those whose understanding of our world with the ability to find levity in the magnitude of the stress and drama have become an important way to provide relief from the hustle. It is why memes and comedic skits have taken over social media pages and popular comedians smile to the bank every year from consistently sold out shows.
In this list, we examine the list of the top 10 highest paid comedians in the world, who coincidently are also mostly the best comedians working today.
If there is a correlation between being really good at something and making sure you are well paid for it, there are fewer places where that is truer than in comedy where the best is earning millions of dollars per year, with their net worth on a steady climb up.
A combination of Netflix’s pot of gold and sold out shows across the country and the world for comedy tours is responsible for why most of these comedians make this list. Without further ado, here is the list of the top 10 highest paid comedians in the world so you see if your favorite comic makes the cut.
Highest Paid Comedians In The World Today
1. Jerry Seinfeld – $57.5 million
Jerry Seinfeld has been in the comedy scene for decades. His sitcom, Seinfeld which he starred in himself has been one of the most followed shows on television since it debuted in 1989. While it does not pack the global and financial muscle of friends, Seinfeld is still one of the most expensive shows for networks who want rights to the sitcom, with Hulu, Disney’s latest streaming toy coughing out about $180 million to air reruns of the show.
The show itself has earned $3.1 billion in reruns since it ended in 1998. In 2018, however, Jerry Seinfeld continued to his reign as one of the highest paid comedians as he earned over $57.5 million in a space of 12 months, making over $30 million of that sweet cash from his standup tours around the country alone.
Jerry Seinfeld is the world’s highest-paid comedian. It has been the case since 2006 and it doesn’t look like ending soon. He may not be the undisputed king of comedy, but he is the king of comedy money.
2. Kevin Hart – $57 million
Kevin Hart is a comedian that tends to find himself in one controversy or the other. If it isn’t in his personal life as a husband, it is in his utterances as a public figure. The latter recently cost him a dream of hosting the Oscars. Regardless, Kevin Hart is a comedian with an extremely large fan base; he is the only comedian on this list who is also an accomplished actor.
One of his films, Jumanji earned almost a $1 billion at the box office, proving that Hart is a man of the people. A combination of his film revenue, stand up tours, which in 2018, through the Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour earned him over $30 million with over 1 million tickets sold, and stand-up revenue earned him $57 million in the space of the past 12 months.
With other films in the works for Kevin, there is a strong chance he might dethrone Jerry Seinfeld for only the second time ever in the next year.
3. Dave Chappelle – $35 million
Behind the two behemoths of mainstream modern comedy is Dave Chappelle. Dave recently returned to the spotlight with the release of two specials on Netflix. One would remember that Dave Chappelle returned to full-time stand-up comedy after a long hiatus in 2013 and it was celebrated return with the release of his specials; The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas in 2017. In 2018, he released Equanimity and The Bird Revelation and all four specials have been well received by the general public.
With all of the specials released on Netflix, Dave Chappelle made a whopping $35 million, mostly for his specials. Dave Chappelle’s return to active standup comedy was met with both fanfare and controversy especially with the release of his specials, Equanimity and The Age of Spin, which were considered to be full of discrimination against gay and transgender people. Dave has since tried to clear the air but to little success. He would not mind the controversy very much as he has been paid over $30 million for his work.
4. Chris Rock – $30 million
Through the ashes of small supporting roles in films, Chris Rock has risen to the summit of the comedy industry. From Saturday Night Live to commercially successful films in the Penguins of Madagascar film series, to his own show, Everybody Hates Chris, Chris Rock is one of the more established comedians in the industry.
So, it is no surprise that he earned in $30 million in the past year. Like Dave Chappelle, the majority of his earnings came from his specials. He had penned an $80 million contract with Netflix to record two specials for the streaming giant. The first one was released in 2018 titled, Chris Rock: Tamborine. Also, like Dave, the rest of his income in the past year come from stand-up shows across the country.
5. Ricky Gervais – $25 million
He may not have been paid as much as the first four comedians on our list got for their specials by Netflix, but Ricky Gervais had arguably one of the best and most successful specials released in the past year. The Office creator’s special, Humanity was one of the most talked about specials released on Netflix last year.
For the special, which was part of his return to stand-up comedy, he was paid a total of $40 million for two of his specials. The second special is expected to be filmed and released later in 2019. Like his peers, the rest of his income came from his Humanity tour across the globe, particularly in the UK and America.
6. Gabriel Iglesias – $20.5 million
His nickname is Fluffy, and so is his bank account. Gabriel Iglesias is one of the comedians currently benefitting from Netflix’s content drive into comedy and specials. Recently, he signed a two specials deal with Netflix and for three shows with the streaming company. This deal has propelled Gabriel to the upper echelon of earners in comedy, making over $20 million in the past year. Outside of his deal with Netflix, Gabriel has also managed to turn revenue from performing at 136 shows in the past year.
7. Terry Fator – $18 million
Terry Fator’s exploded since he won America’s Got Talent in 2007. Ever since, he has gotten one of the dreams of many entertainers, a residency in Las Vegas. The deal, which is worth $100 million ties him to The Mirage for five years. The ventriloquist and impressionist regardless of such a busy schedule have however managed to pull an outside 33 shows outside Vegas, earning himself a sweet $18 million in the past year.
8. Jim Gaffigan – $17.5 million
In a world that has been taken over by Netflix and other streaming platforms paying astronomical sums to comedians for rights to their work, Jim Gaffigan went the independent route, choosing instead to release his special, Noble Ape direct to digital. He certainly did not make as much as he would have had he sold his special to Netflix but he made up for it with touring across America to pull in a decent hull of $17.5 million over the past year.
9. Jeff Dunham – $16.5 million
Ventriloquists might still be the butt of jokes for many people in the world, but for men like Jeff Dunham, the size of their fanbase and the resultant implication on their bank accounts make them immune to these jokes. The popular ventriloquist has performed over 90 shows in the past year, making an average of $350,000 per show and has additional revenue from appearing in films and past DVD sales of his older works.
All of these has helped him settle at a $16.5 million cool revenue in the past year. Would one have believed that a grown man with a puppet would be among one of the top 10 highest paid comedians in the world some odd decades ago? Possibly not, but that is the reality of men like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator now.
10. Sebastian Maniscalco – $15 million
Sebastian Maniscalco has been on the comedy scene for years. Since 2005, through working open mics in bowling alleys and bars, he has been working up the ladder. It all came together to his first special on Netflix which was released in January 2019. The special, Stay Hungry, together with his shows across America and other appearances on Late Night Television shows and Comedy Central has helped him to a solid $15 million, making the Chicago born comedian one of the highest paid comedians in the world in the past year.