Being one of the highest paid comedians in the world is a big responsibility, and it implies walking a very thin, feeble line. What line? The one that separates being the most beloved clown from the most hated a**hole. Who are these heroes? Keep reading and find out!
One too many times we have seen someone’s career go up in flames for saying something that people massively thought out of line. Some comedians, however, have built their career on that same action. It is quite the paradox.
But even if you are a funny man, it doesn’t guarantee your safety. Take Michael Richards, for example. Beloved Cosmo Kramer set fire to his already declining stardom when he got into a fight with some people in the audience and said some very racist things. Is he actually racist? Maybe, I’m not certain; crazy? For sure. In any case, nothing could help him, not his heartfelt apology, not Jerry Seinfeld’s support. His time was up. Now, he’s nowhere to be seen, but as a bib on Dave Chapel’s stand-up (who by the way only seems to be 20% mad about Richard’s use of the N word, and he’s had bananas thrown at him).
Of course, all this happened to Richards because he lost his temper because he’s a hothead and probably crazy, but if you have the ability to keep your demons at bay, you can say some REALLY improper stuff and get away with it and make lots of money. And we all know who holds the gold for that. Louis CK opened his 2017 Netflix show by saying: “I think you should not get an abortion… Unless you need one. In which case, you’d better get one! I mean, seriously. If you need an abortion, you’d better get one. Don’t fuck around. And hurry!” He then goes on to compare having an abortion and taking about different things. For that, he got paid the ridiculous sum of… You’ll find out. So yeah, it’s all about keeping your cool and knowing your audience. Now, even though watching stand up comedy takes up way more time than listening to the 11 best comedy podcasts on iTunes, it is worth it.
When it comes to the methodology part, I used Forbes as my main source, which is based on numbers Between June 2015 and June 2016, and their list of highest-paid celebrities with a filter on comedians. I also took a look at their article of highest-paid comedians in 2015 –which is based on numbers between June 2014 and June 2015 – and found several contestants. But since I still had positions in my ranking to fill, I had to recur to their 2013 list, which is like a hundred years old and therefore the numbers don’t count; I revised what those guys were up to now and gave them a place if deserved.
Obviously, some guys were featured in every ranking but made different sums every year, so for those people, I just took into account their best figures. What does this mean? It means this is a list that tells you who had the best salary in the last two and a half years, regardless whether that sum holds up today or not. Our N°1, for instance, is currently making half the money he did last year, but he gets to keep his crown.
If you want to know who that is, all you have to do is click next and see what are the highest paid comedians in the world!
15. George Lopez – $3.5 million
George Lopez has made n°15 in our list with 3.5 M dollar earnings. This is an updated number, which has dropped from 12 million reported by Forbes in 2013.
George has made a career as a stand-up comedian, and movie and TV actor; he was also a talk show host, and has several records. Being Hispanic, he gained recognition as an honest, critic voice, by making “being a Mexican in America” his specialty.
14. Daniel Tosh – $6.5 million
We are continuing our list of highest paid comedians in the world with Tosh that is earning a salary of 2.1 M a year for his acclaimed Comedy Central Show, Tosh.0. However, this sum is actually unknown, whereas what is known, is that his full current earnings – which include stand-up show tickets- round the yearly 6.5 million.
I cannot vouch for this numbers since they have been taken from unofficial sources. Nevertheless, Daniel’s name was pulled from Forbes’ 2013 list, when he reportedly was earning 11 million, so these numbers sound realistic.
If you like acid humor, Tosh will satisfy your needs.
13. John Bishop – $7 million
As reported by Forbes, British comedian John Bishop earned 7 million dollars in 2016. Personally, I don’t know why, I find him really dull, and I adore British humor, so it must be him that’s the problem. Bishop is also “drummer, educator, record label owner, graphic designer, publisher, and festival presenter,” so maybe he didn’t have a lot of time left to learn about proper comedy, but he’s still doing alright.
When it comes to British comedians, I will take Dylan Moran over Bishop anytime, but he’s way darker and way drunker, which explains why he’s also way poorer. But, back to Bishop, this is the funniest I could find, and it’s not really that funny, but it’s about sex toys, so… ok.
12. Russell Peters – $9 million
Even though he’s outsold Madonna in the past, Forbes states that Russell Peters, one of the highest paid comedians in the world, is “notoriously unknown” (love the oxymoron); even Chris Rock has described him as the “most famous person nobody’s ever heard of.” Yet Peters has still managed to earn 9 million in 2016, so he’s obviously famous enough.
I have watched SO MANY shows, vids, and clips to write this article, and sometimes it would get repetitive. However, an Anglo-Indian brought up in Canada making fun of Russians is something you don’t usually see, so if you’re curious you can watch the clip below.
11. Aziz Ansari – $9.5 million
You might know funnyman Aziz Ansari from his various rols on movies and TV, including Scrubs, Parks and Recreation, and currently, Netflix’s “Master of None.” What you don’t know is that this little Indian is a millionaire and it is one of the highest paid comedians in the world.
When not performing on a TV show, I usually find Aziz quite shrill and annoying, but I’ve got to give it to him, his “jeez everywhere” bib is really good.
10. Gabriel Iglesias – $9.5 million
If this were the “most adorable, huggable comedians in the world,” Iglesias would undoubtedly hit n°1, no contest, and he is also funny as hell.
Gabriel, one of the highest paid comedians in the world, has been in several movies, including Magic Mike, and he’s currently touring the USA with his “FluffyMania World Tour: 20 Years of Comedy,” which is a smashing success. His own website, Fluffyguy, describes his comedic performances as “a mixture of storytelling, parodies, characters and sound effects that bring his personal experiences to life,” and there’s really no better way to put it.
Please, do yourself a favor and watch this incredibly improper/endearing story about an elaborate practical joke he and his friend Martin played on their friend, comedian G. Reilly.
9. Jim Gaffigan – $12.5 million
Oh! It’s that guy!
I’d seen Jim a thousand times on screen, but I had no idea he was such an awesome stand-up comedian. I knew he was funny though.
Slow but steady, his career grew larger (as did he), and he was eventually propelled into fame when he appeared on Broadway in 2011. Ever since his stand-ups have become a huge success. His humor relies in being “admittedly average,” misanthropy, self-hatred, and the factor that englobes all of these – food.
Seriously, the way he talks about food, he’s probably what Louis CK would look and sound like if you soaked him in bleach and starved hi for 40 days. In any case, this 9 minute rant on McDonalds is absolutely worth it.
8. Jeff Dunham – $13.5 million
And now for something completely different… A VENTRILOQUIST.
Working hard all through the 90s to make a name for himself on TV, Jeff finally got what he wanted in 2006, when Comedy Central produced a one hour special titled “Arguing with Myself.” This huge success would be the beginning of his proliferous career.
Way more improper than the next guy, Jeff Dunham, that ranked 8th on the list of highest paid comedians in the world, likes to joke about terrorism the most, and even though it’s in a cute way, this has brought him lots of both praise and rejection. His most popular sketch is that of “Achmed the Dead Terrorist.” Here’s one for your delight.
7. Terry Fator – $21 million
And now for something completely the same… A VENTRILOQUIST. Except for this time, he sings!
Maybe it’s my inherent third-worldliness that has prevented me from ever knowing this dude existed, but he is seriously impressive. Not funny, but impressive. Also, his dolls are terrifyingly ugly, and the whole singing thing is not really my cup of tea – he does it a lot. The more I watch it, the more annoying it gets.
He is a renowned impersonator, and is acknowledged for being able to deliver more than 100 different voices. The guy is very talented, but boring as hell – or maybe he’s just family-friendly, I can’t tell the difference anymoe.
This is the only video I could see through until the end.
6. Amy Schumer – $37.5 million
Quite the controversy around this one, especially around her jokes, some of which may-or-may-not be stolen. Let’s not forget about another factor that people like to pretend is not an “issue” any more, even though it clearly is: She’s a girl. How is it relevant? Well, our source itself begins the description with “The first woman to ever…” When something starts like that, you KNOW it’s an issue.
I’m not even going for the full-bodied and filthy rich part of the issue, that’s as far as my feminism will go to stand up for Amy,one of the highest paid comedians in the world, because, stolen jokes or not I don’t usually find her especially funny. Wait, I said “usually.” This bib is so on point I can’t stop laughing.
5. Dave Chappelle – $47 million
Dave is one of the comedians that are doing way better this year than they were when forbes issued the 2016 list, in which Chappelle was featured n°6, with annual earnings of 13 million.
Even though at first Dave had little to none success in his TV endeavors, in the early 2000s Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show” came through a smashing success. Sadly, many problems with production and the pressure from the network to “change the tone” of the humor determined that David quit in 2006, and abandoned the spotlight for many years.
Luckily, he came back in 2013, as a full-blown-blast of laughter, and now holds a standing deal with Netflix and he is one of the highest paid comedians in the world. None of their material is on YouTube, of course, but I’ll leave you with this half hour of amusement the bib in minute 7 would be a great follow-up to Aziz Ansari’s “Jeez everywhere!”
4. Louis C.K. – $52 million
Oh, boy, where should I begin?
As a young comedian he was rejected from Saturday Night Live (can you say “bad call,” SNL?) and struggled to make a living. He worked as a stand-up comedian, and was writer in several shows, but his fame came with his own show, “Louie” which –no matter how much I love the red fatty – I cannot stand. His less popular “Horace and Pete” show, featuring Steve Buscemi, Jessica Lange, Edie Falco, and Alan Alda, however, is the darkest, most twisted thing I have ever seen. Watch it.
Even though he’s not n°1 in earnings, Louis CK is holding the stand-up steering wheel at the time. Yes, Jewish comedians make Jew jokes, black comedians make black jokes, but this loveable, fat, middle-aged red-head will piss on EVERYTHING. He’ll go after Blacks, whites, Jews, Asians, Latinos, soldiers, the church, his daughters, himself, men, women, and anything in between. He’ll jump from abortion to child rape in a heartbeat; he messes with every value possible and people LOVE IT, which is crazy because what he loves the most is shitting on white American people.
In a way, his cynicism makes everything he says less grave, but how he makes himself adorable at the same time, I have no Idea. In case you doubt me, you should watch ALL his stand-ups, just to be sure. Here’s a little piece called “Of course! But maybe…”
3. Chris Rock – $57 million
Chris Rock that ranked third on the list of highest paid comedians in the world, has been on the rise for a while now. He became known through “Saturday Night Live”, and then spread across the world with “Everybody Hates Chris,” which was an annoying person –in my opinion, as it often happens when stand-up comedians make TV shows. His stand-ups, however, are hilarious, and after going slightly off the grid for a while, he made a spectacular comeback in 2017.
Like many other African-American comedians, Chris Rock specializes on black jokes, with themes frequently related to rights. This bib suggests what some consequences to slavery might be present in modern days and it’s hillarious. And even though this is from before Obama was president, the punch line is –again today – sadly and unequivocally true.
2. Jerry Seinfeld – $69 million
There are very few people in world who have never heard of Jerry Seinfeld, the next comedian on our list of highest paid comedians in the world. For one, he’s been on TV longer than I’ve been alive. In case you’re wondering how long that is, his first national exposure was in The Tonight Show, in 1981.
Seinfeld’s specialty relies in his ingenious, cynical remarks on the mundanities of everyday life. As he accurately describes in a brief –and seriously bizarre- interlude during the 1987 stand-up you will find here: “the fact is, almost everything is funny, you just have to have a way of looking at it.”
He’s also (and mostly) renowned for his eponymous sitcom “Seinfeld”, which began in 1989, and lasted nine years. Like I said before, comedian’s TV shows are usually annoying, and this was no different, but it had a confusingly loveable quality about it that people just couldn’t shake.
Even though last year he was second on Forbes list for the first time in ages, he’s bounced back to n°1. But this isn’t Forbes’ list, this is MY list, and I’m not that forgiving. I will add, however, I hold Jerry, one of the highest paid comedians in the world, dear in my heart and will always prefer him over the next clown. Also, he used to be yummy.
Here’s a video of what he’s been up to recently. He’s still got it.
1. Kevin Hart – $87.5 million
Even though he’s not the best paid of 2017, Kevin Hart tops our highest paid comedians in the world list with his 2016 87.5 million earnings. He was the first stand-up comedian to ever beat Jerry Seinfeld, whose “combined pretax earnings over the last 10 years top $900 million”, according to Forbes. This, he achieved by “touring like a rock star,” which means he’s been performing at arenas and stadiums, and delivering over 100 shows a year.
It’s true that Jerry got his spot back this year, since Hart is currently making only 32.5 M, poor thing (can you smell the sarcasm?). But like I said before, every number in the last two years counts for me.
Here’s an old bib, when Kevin, the number one on our list of highest paid comedians in the world wasn’t nearly as rich as he is now, that coincidentally is about having money (which is our theme), but not that much.