The finance publication has released its list of the top-earning comedians working today, and Seinfeld takes the No. 1 spot having made $69 million between June 2016 and June 2017.
Forbes takes into account pretax income earned from projects like tours, films, TV shows and endorsements, but doesn’t account for money spent to pay the people who keep Hollywood spinning: managers, lawyers, agents and the like.
The streaming service has eagerly shelled out for comedy specials from other humor heavy-hitters like Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman, so it’s no surprise that Netflix is named as a benefactor of more than one comedian on Forbes’ Top 10 list.
Named the second-highest paid comedian on the planet, Rock is estimated to have earned $57 million in the past year. The 52-year-old has become known as a prolific actor, producer and writer with films and TV, but lately he’s been earning his paycheck from straight-up stand-up.
The third highest-paid comedian in the world, Louis C.K., also has Netflix supporting part of his sizable income. Forbes estimated that more than 50% of C.K.’s $52 million earned between June 2016 and June 2017 is due to his deal with the company for a pair of comedy specials.
Although C.K.’s critically acclaimed series “Louie” is on hiatus, he’s still making money behind the TV scenes, serving as a writer/producer on the “Baskets” and “Better Things” comedy series and as an executive producer on the Tig Notaro-starring “One Mississippi.”
If you caught last summer’s G-rated blockbuster, “The Secret Life of Pets,” you also heard C.K. voice the starring Jack Russell Terrier named Max. That film earned $368 million at the US box office.
Talk about a comeback. Dave Chappelle’s slow but steady return to the spotlight after his sudden exit from his Comedy Central series back in 2005 has come with a healthy paycheck: He’s the fourth highest-paid comedian in the world, according to Forbes, earning $47 million in the past year alone.
In 2016, Amy Schumer became the first woman to ever make it onto Forbes’ top-paid comedians list, popping up at No. 4. This year, she’s at No. 5 — but she’s still the only woman in comedy earning enough to make it into the top 10.
Schumer made an estimated $37.5 million between June 2016 and June 2017, and she, too, has a shiny Netflix deal to her name: her stand-up show “The Leather Special” debuted on the service in March.
Forbes notes that 30% of Schumer’s earnings in the past year came from that special, but comedy’s not the only thing adding to Schumer’s bank account. Her 2016 book, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo,” is still paying dividends, as are her endorsement deals with Old Navy and Bud Light.
Kevin Hart was once the highest-paid comedian in the world, but the past 12 months seemingly weren’t as lucrative.
While Hart topped Forbes’ list in 2016 to the tune of $87.5 million, supplied by a heavy touring schedule, he’s now at No. 6 having made an estimated $32.5 million in the past year.
The famously productive comedian is still as busy as ever, preparing to launch his own streaming service; appearing in 2017 movies like “Captain Underpants” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and releasing a book called “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.” Perhaps the one thing missing from his resume this year is a Netflix stand-up special of his own.
Coming in at No. 7 on the list, Jim Gaffigan earned an estimated $30.5 million in the past year. In addition to touring and TV work — “Bob’s Burgers” fans know him as the voice of Henry Haber — Gaffigan, too, got on the Netflix train.
Forbes reports that his comedy special “Cinco,” which debuted in early 2017, contributed to a third of his income in the past year.