Seinfeld’s invincible star power earns him top touring-dollars for the large crowds he pulls, and the veteran’s take-home cut of each show is higher than any other comedian on our list. Still, what helps keeps the king of comedy on top of FORBES’ rankings are the several million syndication dollars he earns each year from Seinfeld reruns. Not bad for a show about nothing. His latest project: “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Seinfeld’s Internet series of web interviews with comedians, in cars, getting coffee.
Reality show victors rarely find career longevity after cameras cut, but ventriloquist Terry Fator has been an exception since he (and his puppets) wonAmerica’s Got Talent in 2007. In the past year, Fator has performed more than 200 shows – more than any other comedian on our list – thanks to his five-year contract with Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel, reportedly worth $100 million.
Thanks to YouTube and a massive global following, Peters is still one of the world’s most successful touring comedians. The Canadian-born joker has performed at sold-out concerts from Madison Square Garden to London’s O2 Arena, where his 2008 show broke an attendance record of over 16,000 fans. If you are in America then you might not know him but its worth your while if you search and experience him.
Merchandise revenue can be a sizeable part of a comedian’s earnings, but Jeff Dunham, who topped this list in 2010, takes it to the next level with an estimated several million in merch profits – more than the ventriloquist gets from DVD sales. His fifth comedy special, Minding the Monsters, premiered last fall, while 2013 saw him branch out into feature film voice work with anime flick From Up on Poppy Hill.
The mastermind behind the Emmy-winning Louie is a risk-taker who has transformed the business with his lucrative ticket-distributing platform. Last year, he sold digital downloads of his comedy special directly to fans on his website, grossing $4.5 million in sales in just 45 hours. He took the same approach this year by charging $45 for a ticket to his show. Though C.K. admits cutting out the middlemen earns him less, it’s proven that his fans will only love him more.
Hart’s persona on his BET mock reality show Real Husbands of Hollywood is that of a man always looking to climb the ranks of Hollywood’s A-list elite. Thanks to high-grossing gigs and multi-platinum sales of his DVD, Laugh at My Pain, which grossed over $8 million since its release, Hart is climbing FORBES’ list as well. “Husbands” debuted to 4.1 million viewers. The comedian is also gaining attention in Hollywood with a roster of upcoming films and previous roles in hits like Think Like A Manand This Is The End.
For a comedian who’s made a career of playing a redneck character with the Blue Collar Comedy posse, Larry the Cable Guy sure does plenty of white collar work: the former radio personality (real name: Daniel Whitney) took home a few million dollars this past year from tours and merchandise sales. Up next: lending his voice to the Blue Collar Boys’ animated series, Bounty Hunters.
He isn’t the only funny man on the list to have dabbled as an author, but Lopez, who’s written two books – including his most recent, I’m Not Going to Lie, is the only one making a ton of paper from his publishing endeavors. He’s also is a top earner in the endorsement category, thanks to partnerships such as his Punchliner Comedy Club deal aboard Carnival Cruise Lines, which set sail last year. Next up: Lopez will be making a TV comeback with his new FX series, Saint George.
The host of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 may not have the star power of his network colleagues, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but Tosh and his weekly Internet roundup show do outdraw them in the ratings. And when the comedian isn’t on your TV set, he’s probably infiltrating your other screens, as Tosh also has the list’s biggest social media following.
When he’s not touring his stand-up act across the country, Iglesias helps up-and-coming comedians get their start on Stand Up Revolution, his Comedy Central showcase. The comedian’s DVD sales for comedy specials continue to boost his earnings – an impressive feat, considering the last one came out in 2009 – while small roles in films such asMagic Mike and voice work for Pixar’s forthcomingPlanes round out his portfolio.