Who is the Richest Comedian?
NEW YORK (MainStreet) People say you're hilarious. You were the class clown in high school. Campus cut-up in college. Now you're known for wisecracks in the coffee room. Maybe you ought to monetize that monkey business. For motivation, consider Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, co-creators of the hit 1990s TV comedy "Seinfeld." They prove there's money in funny as the top two wealthiest comedians in America.
Raking in piles of dough through syndication, the two men inked another reruns deal earlier this year for at least $400 million each. David is worth a reported $900 million, while Seinfeld makes-do with about $800 million in net worth, according to Wealth-X, a high net worth research provider. Since the sitcom ended its nine-year run in 1998, it has netted $3.1 billion in U.S. syndication fees.
David added to his comedy cash as the creator and star of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a critically acclaimed and commercially successful improvised comedy on HBO, to claim the top spot on the wealthiest comedians list.
Here are the top five wealthiest comedians in America:
Net worth (USD in millions)
- Larry David - 900
- Jerry Seinfeld - 800
- David Letterman - 390
- Bill Cosby - 360
- Adam Sandler - 290
In the long-running late-night duel between Leno and Letterman, Dave gets the nod in the net worth category. Letterman has a personal fortune of $390 million, while Wealth-X estimates Leno's net worth to be about $250 million.
Adam Sandler is the youngest ultra wealthy funnyman at 46 years old, and Bill Cosby is the oldest at 76.
The road to riches in comedy is long and lonely, and often mapped with Holiday Inns, cramped comedy clubs and the college circuit. According to the Princeton Review, the average stand-up comedian earns around $50 for two twenty minute sets at a comedy club. Try buying a couple of meals and getting a room for the night on that.
In a New York Times article last year, a typical half-hour Comedy Central cable special was reported to pay $15,000. And playing to the college crowd can be lucrative, with one relatively obscure comedian, Buzz Sutherland, claiming to rake in $350,000 on campus tours.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet