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Photos: Richest comedians in the world

Want to make a comedian laugh? Tell them you're getting into comedy to get rich.
Who's earned the most buck for their comedic bang?

Want to make a comedian laugh? Tell them you're getting into comedy to get rich.

They might tell you the road ahead is bumpy at best and downright soul-crushing at worst, as one navigates through lonely hotel rooms and lifeless audiences while honing their craft. Only the truly passionate need apply because anyone else is bound to be disappointed.

And yet, for the precious few who do succeed, comedy can pay off quite handsomely. For proof, look no further than the world's richest comedians.

Whether through writing, performing, or both, these individuals have forged an enduring path and reaped spectacular rewards as a result. It's said that laughter is the best medicine. And they've deftly managed to fill the most prescriptions.

So who's earned the most buck for their comedic bang?

Examples include such comedians as ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, movie star Adam Sandler, and iconic show creator Seth MacFarlane, among other funny people. If there's a throughline, it's that one must find their own distinctive voice and nurture it over time, even as one evolves stylistically or explores different mediums.

Stacker gathered data from Celebrity Net Worth on entertainment's richest comedians and itemized the top 25 by current net worth. The net worth figures on this list were calculated using a proprietary formula that factored in the publicly available data about each person including salaries, real estate holdings, divorces, record sales, royalties, and endorsements—minus estimated taxes, manager's fees, agent fees, and lifestyle expenses.

Comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham performing onstage during the 'Passively Aggressive Tour' at the Frank Erwin Center on February 15, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

#25. Jeff Dunham

- Net worth: $140 million

Megapopular ventriloquist and stand-up comic Jeff Dunham lets his "suitcase posse" of puppet characters talk dirty on his behalf. His unique brand of offensive yet endearing humor has given way to various TV specials as well as his own sketch comedy series. He holds a Guinness World Record for the most tickets sold for a stand-up comedy tour.

Bill Maher attending the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022, in Beverly Hills, California.

#24. Bill Maher

- Net worth: $140 million

A Cornell University graduate and former pot dealer, Bill Maher came up in the 1980s as a stand-up comic who scored occasional acting work. He turned his political views into a full-time gig as the creator and host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect" and then HBO's "Real Time." Similarly outspoken on the subject of religion, his 2008 documentary "Religulous" made just over $13 million at the domestic box office on a reported budget of $2.5 million.

Rowan Atkinson appearing on the 'Che Tempo Che Fa' television show at Rai Milan Studios on October 7, 2018, in Milan, Italy.

#23. Rowan Atkinson

- Net worth: $150 million

This British talent was a sitcom and sketch comedy stalwart by the time he co-created and starred in the hit series "Mr. Bean," which centers on the mumbling and bumbling title character, who Atkinson once described as "essentially a child trapped in the body of a man." The show became an international sensation, spawning an animated spinoff series and two feature films, among other things.

Joan Rivers onstage during Comedy Central's "Roast of Joan Rivers" at CBS Studios on July 26, 2009, in Studio City, California.

#22. Joan Rivers

- Net worth: $150 million

Comedy icon Joan Rivers launched her stand-up career alongside legendary names such as George Carlin and Richard Pryor. She gained prominence as a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show" before hosting a late-night series of her own. Subsequently, her career straddled multiple mediums and included a long-running gig on the QVC Network.

Comic ventriloquist and impressionist Terry Fator performing with his Emma Taylor puppet during his show at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on March 12, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

#21. Terry Fator

- Net worth: $160 million

A ventriloquist and impressionist, Terry Fator was almost ready to give up on show business by the time he won the second season of "America's Got Talent." His career took off immediately thereafter, leading to Las Vegas residencies and various TV appearances. Fans can currently find him performing at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

Stefan Raab performing at the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 on May 14, 2011, in Dusseldorf, Germany.

#20. Stefan Raab

- Net worth: $160 million

Once known as the "most powerful man in German television," Stefan Raab hosted the comedy-based talk shows "Vivasion" and "TV Total." He's also contributed to the Eurovision Song Contest as a performer, songwriter, and producer. In 2015, he retired from television to focus primarily on production.

Sacha Baron Cohen attending the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.

#19. Sacha Baron Cohen

- Net worth: $160 million

This fearless British gadfly rose to fame by playing an assortment of satirical characters on the hit series "Da Ali G Show." Sasha Baron Cohen achieved even greater success by giving each character a respective feature film, including the blockbuster 2006 comedy "Borat." He recently showed off his dramatic chops in Aaron Sorkin's historical drama "The Trial of the Chicago 7."

Drew Carey attending PaleyWKND Opening Night at Paley Museum on September 29, 2022, in New York City.

#18. Drew Carey

- Net worth: $165 million

A former member of the Marine Corps Reserve, Carey originally pursued stand-up comedy in his native city of Cleveland. Supporting roles in TV and film helped pave the way for his eponymous sitcom, which ran for nine seasons. When adjusted for inflation, he was reportedly earning $1 million per episode at the height of the show's success.

Bill Murray performing during "Love Rocks NYC! A Benefit for God's Love We Deliver" at Beacon Theatre on March 15, 2018, in New York City.

#17. Bill Murray

- Net worth: $180 million

Before establishing himself as a major film star throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Bill Murray kicked off his career in sketch comedy. He's worked fairly steadily since and channeled his signature persona into various genres. Savvy deal-making reportedly earned him around $125 million (unadjusted for inflation) on the first two "Ghostbusters" movies alone.

Steve Harvey speaking onstage during 2022 InvestFest at Georgia World Congress Center on August 06, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.

#16. Steve Harvey

- Net worth: $200 million

Steve Harvey worked a variety of menial jobs and even experienced homelessness before breaking out with a career in stand-up comedy. He was soon headlining a popular sitcom and performing alongside other legendary comics as part of the lucrative "Kings of Comedy" tour. High-profile hosting gigs would follow and so would the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, which specializes in youth outreach.

Ray Romano performing his stand-up comedy routine as part of the Aces of Comedy series at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on October 4, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

#15. Ray Romano

- Net worth: $200 million

Everybody must love Raymond because how else could one explain this comedian's massive net worth? It's been reported that he was earning $800,000 per episode by season five of his popular sitcom. He continues to perform stand-up and appears in both TV shows and movies to this day.

Conan O'Brien taping an episode of his "Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend" Podcast at the Beacon Theatre on November 10, 2022, in New York City.

#14. Conan O'Brien

- Net worth: $200 million

This TV host and comedian turned his late-night popularity into a full-blown media empire with the founding of the production company Team Coco. His podcast "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend" averaged over nine million monthly downloads in 2021. Thanks to a deal struck in 2022 with SiriusXM, he's expected to send his net worth skyrocketing even higher.

Dan Aykroyd arriving at the Premiere of Sony Pictures' "Ghostbusters" at TCL Chinese Theatre on July 9, 2016, in Hollywood, California.

#13. Dan Aykroyd

- Net worth: $250 million

This "Saturday Night Live" alum-turned-movie star is far more productive than his well-known acting career would suggest. Behind the scenes, he helped create such enduring films as "Ghostbusters" and "The Blues Brothers." He also co-founded both the House of Blues venue and restaurant chain as well as Crystal Head vodka.

Seth MacFarlane attending FOX's "Family Guy" 400th Episode Celebration at Fox Studio Lot on November 12, 2022, in Los Angeles, California.

#12. Seth MacFarlane

- Net worth: $300 million

A creator of massive hits on both the big and small screen, Seth MacFarlane is also a talented voice actor and singer. "Family Guy" remains the work for which he's best known, and it's currently in the middle of its 21st season. In 2020, he signed a $200 million deal with NBCUniversal.

Larry David attending the premiere of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" at Paramount Pictures Studios on October 19, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.

#11. Larry David

- Net worth: $400 million

Unsuccessful as a stand-up comic, Larry David turned his anti-social instincts into TV gold. Most of his fortune comes from selling and then reselling the rights to the smash sitcom "Seinfeld," which he co-created. His similarly popular HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has also netted him a small fortune.

David Letterman speaking onstage during the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 7, 2017, in New York City.

#10. David Letterman

- Net worth: $400 million

David Letterman was a quirky Indianapolis weatherman and rising comedy star before he became the king of late-night television. His production company Worldwide Pants produced his self-titled talk show and other hits such as "Everybody Loves Raymond." He currently hosts "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman" on Netflix.

Adam Sandler performing at the 2nd Annual "Acoustic-4-A-Cure" Benefit Concert at The Masonic Auditorium on May 15, 2015, in San Francisco, California.

#9. Adam Sandler

- Net worth: $440 million

Industry trends may come and go, but Adam Sandler continues to draw legions of viewers after three decades. Following the success of 2019's "Murder Mystery," the comedy star extended his production deal with Netflix for a reported $250 million. Upcoming movies include "Murder Mystery 2" and another collaboration with "Uncut Gems" co-directors the Safdie brothers.

Kevin Hart performing at Uptown Comedy Club on March 11, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia.

#8. Kevin Hart

- Net worth: $450 million

One of the hardest-working men in show business, Kevin Hart continues to earn big bucks through major film roles and successful stand-up tours. He recently merged two companies to form the media venture Hartbeat, which is valued at approximately $650 million. Once Hartbeat's chief executive, he remains chairman of its board.

Jay Leno attending the 20th Anniversary Hudson River Park gala at Hudson River Park's Pier 62 on October 11, 2018, in New York City.

#7. Jay Leno

- Net worth: $450 million

This former late-night TV titan definitely knows how to spend his fortune, with a massive collection of rare cars and motorcycles as proof of his vast riches. According to reports, Jay Leno once earned as much as $30 million per year as the host of "The Tonight Show." Still an active entertainer, he hosts the series "Jay Leno's Garage" and continues to perform stand-up.

Ellen DeGeneres attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California.

#6. Ellen DeGeneres

- Net worth: $500 million

In 1986, Ellen DeGeneres became the only female stand-up comic invited to sit on Johnny Carson's couch after an inaugural performance on his show. She made history yet again by coming out as gay on her eponymous sitcom in 1997. Her career rebounded in 2003 with the debut of her talk show, which ran for 19 seasons and turned her into a very wealthy celebrity.

Trey Parker posing at the opening night after party for Disney's new hit musical "Frozen" on Broadway at Terminal 5 on March 22, 2018, in New York City.

#5. Trey Parker

- Net worth: $600 million

Trey Parker was exploring controversial comedy as early as age 11 when he grossed out his schoolmates during a talent show. He fine-tuned those provocative instincts over time and co-created the animated comedy series "South Park," which debuted on Comedy Central in 1997. In 2021, he and Matt Stone signed a deal worth a reported $900 million with the Paramount+ streaming network.

Matt Groening speaking at "The Simpsons" Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2019, in San Diego, California.

#4. Matt Groening

- Net worth: $600 million

While not a comedian in the traditional sense, animator Matt Groening did create one of the most enduring comedy shows in the history of television. Now in its 34th season, "The Simpsons" holds a Guinness World Record for the longest-running animated sitcom. His additional works include the "Life is Hell" comic strip and the TV shows "Futurama" and "Disenchantment."

Matt Stone attending Comedy Central "South Park 20" during Comic-Con International 2016 at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2016.

#3. Matt Stone

- Net worth: $700 million

Here's a head-scratcher for "South Park" fans: Co-creator Matt Stone is reportedly worth $100 million more than series co-visionary Trey Parker. That's namely thanks to lucrative network deals and the resounding success of the Broadway play "Book of Mormon." Stone is also known for his savvy real estate investments.

Byron Allen giving an interview.

#2. Byron Allen

- Net worth: $800 million

At 18 years old, Bryon Allen became the youngest-ever stand-up comic to perform on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. He later founded Entertainment Studios and starred in the production company's debut series, "Entertainers with Byron Allen." Today, Entertainment Studios is the largest independent producer and distributor of first-run syndicated programming for broadcast TV worldwide.

Jerry Seinfeld attending the LA Tastemaker event for Comedians in Cars at The Paley Center for Media on July 17, 2019, in Beverly Hills.

#1. Jerry Seinfeld

- Net worth: $950 million

As the co-creator and star of his self-titled sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld has raked in serious bucks through syndication and streaming deals. Other projects such as "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and various stand-up specials have also added to his bottom line. He'll make his feature directorial debut with Netflix's upcoming comedy "Unfrosted," a fictionalized take on the founding of Pop-Tarts.