They say that comedy is the new rock and roll – and it now delivers bank balances to prove it. Indeed, today’s top funnymen and funnywomen earn the kind of money that would make most musicians’ eyes water. Here’s a look at the fortunes of 20 of the richest funny people out there.
20. Kathy Griffin – $20m
Kathy Griffin has proven that being outrageous can pay off. The comedienne has constantly made headlines with her provocative takes on religion, current affairs and pop culture. Alongside her Emmy-winning reality show and sitcom roles on Suddenly Susan and Seinfeld, her controversial stand-up has reportedly helped her amass a fortune of $20m.
19. Stephen Colbert – $45m
Twice named on Time’s list of the “100 Most Influential People,” Stephen Colbert has been a late night regular for decades. After first showcasing his signature deadpan humor on The Daily Show, he landed his own vehicle, The Colbert Report, in 2005 – and was then able to transition to helming The Late Show. His success has seen him amass a haul of $45m.
18. Tina Fey – $65m
The 21st century’s most in-demand female comedy talent, Tina Fey first found fame on Saturday Night Live. But it’s her skills behind-the-scenes that have truly helped to boost her bank balance. She created acclaimed sitcoms Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock and wrote box-office smash Mean Girls – and also appeared in all three.
17. Chris Rock – $70m
Like Fey, Chris Rock also got his start on SNL before making the leap to the big screen, with his biggest successes being the Madagascar and Grown Ups films. He also created the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, hosted two Oscar ceremonies and has landed numerous HBO specials. To polish all that off, he recently signed a Netflix deal worth $40m.
16. Jon Stewart – $80m
Renowned for his acerbic takedowns of 24-hour news networks, Jon Stewart is one of America’s most popular satirists. The comedian began his career in stand-up before hosting shows on MTV. He earned the majority of his $80m fortune, though, with a 16-year stint fronting Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
15. Conan O’Brien – $85m
In the crowded field of late night talk shows, Conan O’Brien can now claim to be both the longest-serving and the richest current host. The flame-haired comedian nets $12m a year for hosting his eponymous TBS show. And having also founded a successful production company, his net worth reportedly stands at a whopping $85m.
14. Ricky Gervais – $90m
Ricky Gervais found fame at a much later age than most multi-millionaire comedians. The Brit was in his early 40s when he first came to worldwide attention as the star and creator of The Office in the U.K. Since then he’s built up a $90m fortune with the U.S. adaptation and a big-screen spin-off of the show, and numerous Hollywood acting and directing roles.
13. Sacha Baron Cohen – $110m
Like Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen broke through on The 11 O’Clock Show in the U.K. where he debuted his classic comic creation, Ali G. He then took him to the big screen, as he later did with characters Borat and Bruno. Appearances in Sweeney Todd, Hugo and Les Misérables have also contributed to his fortune, reported to sit at $110m.
12. Ray Romano – $120m
Everybody Loves Raymond was a ratings juggernaut for nearly a decade, and its leading man certainly reaped the rewards. Ray Romano became a household name thanks to the show – and a rich one too, reportedly netting $120m. He also voiced Manny in the Ice Age franchise and went on to create TNT’s Men of a Certain Age.
11. Kevin Hart – $128m
Kevin Hart is currently the world’s highest-paid comedian, having netted $87.5m between 2015 and 2016 alone. He still has some way to go to top the all-time rich list, though. His recent run of box-office hits including Think Like a Man, Ride Along and Central Intelligence suggests that he’ll soon be making it close to the pole position, however.
10. Rowan Atkinson – $130m
With a reported net worth of $130m, Rowan Atkinson is the highest-placed Brit on this list. The rubber-faced comedian has played two iconic, if completely different, comic creations: Blackadder and Mr. Bean. He’s also enjoyed success on the big screen with Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Lion King and Johnny English.
9. Dan Aykroyd – $135m
After finding fame on SNL, Dan Aykroyd became a big-screen comedy icon in The Blues Brothers. He later enjoyed success as a Ghostbuster and in 1990 received an Oscar nod for Driving Miss Daisy. He has also co-founded a popular vodka brand and a music venue chain, adding to a total fortune of $135m.
8. Bill Murray – $140m
Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Scrooged, Groundhog Day, Rushmore. Bill Murray has appeared in some of the finest Hollywood comedies of the past 40 years, amassing a $140m fortune in the process. The deadpan comic has also shown he can cut it as a dramatic actor, winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Lost in Translation.
7. Drew Carey – $165m
Drew Carey may now be best-known as the host of The Price is Right. But he first began building his reported $165m fortune as a comedian. Indeed, Carey started out as a stand-up before landing his own hugely popular eponymous sitcom. He then added to his comedy repertoire by hosting ABC’s improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
6. Seth MacFarlane – $194m
Seth MacFarlane has earned the majority of his reported $194m fortune behind the scenes. He got his start animating several kids’ cartoons before creating two hit shows of his own, Family Guy and American Dad. He also directed both Ted movies, as well as voicing its title character.
5. Ellen DeGeneres – $345m
Ellen DeGeneres began her career as a stand-up before landing her own eponymous sitcom, a period in which both she and her character famously came out. But it’s her long-running talk show which has turned her into one of America’s wealthiest female entertainers. She currently has a reported fortune of $345m.
4. Adam Sandler – $360m
Adam Sandler might not be the most critically-acclaimed comedian. In fact he has no less than 11 Razzie nominations – and three wins – to his name. But his movies rake in the big bucks. Indeed, the former SNL cast member has netted $360m over the last two and a half decades thanks to box-office hits such as The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy.
3. David Letterman – $400m
For 33 years David Letterman was the face of American late-night television. The comedian hosted hugely successful eponymous shows on both NBC and CBS before retiring from the circuit $400m richer in 2015. He remains a pivotal figure in the entertainment industry as the founder of production company Worldwide Pants – which has produced shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond.
2. Larry David – $400m
Larry David is responsible for not just one but two genre-defining comedies. First he teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld to co-create the hugely successful Seinfeld. Then he took center stage with his own brainchild, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. As a result, he’s become one of America’s richest funnymen with a $400m fortune.
1. Jerry Seinfeld – $870m
But David, and every other comedian, has been usurped on the rich list by his collaborator, the eponymous star of Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld boasts an astonishing net worth of $870m largely thanks to the leftfield sitcom. However, he also saw success with hit animation Bee Movie and has created his own influential web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.