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A comedian is someone who uses jokes, satire and storytelling to amuse and entertain an audience. Making people laugh isn’t as easy as one might think, it’s actually a real skill that can be crafted and developed and at the industry level, it can take years to break through. How much do famous comedians make?
In the world of comedy, how much famous comedians make depends on their reputation and skillset. An annual income for a comic can vary due to the type of gigs they book and whether there are also television, podcast and movie opportunities in the mix. Some comedy stars are millionaires, but some stars are still struggling to make ends meet.
Being original is the key to being a standout and gaining lots of traction. This will also be an integral factor bookers will be looking for when scouting talent. Although there are many different types of comedians, most start from doing stand-up. For this, a comic must devise an engaging routine to deliver to live audiences. The best way to hone a craft is through practice so by getting in front of a mic and trying the set out it will teach a comedian how to deal with a crowd and to help iron out any kinks in their sets.
Once a comedian has an authentic and original voice and is a competent performer it is then a case of getting discovered and networking with industry professionals to kick-start a career in comedy.
Ranked in no particular order here is a list of the top 10 most famous comedians and some of the most well-known comedians in the game. Read on as we highlight the top 10 most famous female comedians, famous stand-up comedians, celebrity comedians, famous black comedians and famous male comedians!
Starting as a relatively unknown club comic to now being one of the biggest, most compelling names in comedy, Amy Schumer has honed a voice that titles her a feminist icon. Schumer began her venture into comedy in the early 2000s. She has since continued her stand-up whilst also acting in films and taking on writing, producing and creating roles in various series and movies. She’s been nominated for multiple Grammy awards and also received a Tony award for her nomination as best actress in a Broadway performance of Meteor Shower.
Russell Brand is a British comedian, radio host, television presenter, actor, and author. He is known for his left-field wit and enthralling live performances. He tackles controversy with satire and in more recent years has turned his focus to spiritualism which can be seen in his most recent podcast and writing work. He has achieved multiple awards including the British Comedy Award for the Best Live Stand-Up, The British Comedy Academy Outstanding Achievement Award and British Comedy Award for the Best Male Comedy Breakthrough Artist.
American stand-up comedian, actress, musician, fashion designer, and author Margaret Cho has a lot of strings to her bow. Cho is highly regarded for her stand-up routines in which she addresses social and political issues through her original and captivating voice. In the 90’s Cho quickly rose to Los Angeles royalty when moving to the city; she won a comedy contest where the first prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. Margret Cho went on to perform over 300 concerts within two years and after being put on a prime time special by Bob Hope she pretty much became a national celebrity overnight and remained there since.
Gervais is one of the most popular and ubiquitous comedy performers of the 21st century. Although Gervais is now such a household name, it took him time to become widely recognised for his work. His stardom began with the debut of the BBC Comedy series The Office. Despite receiving mixed reviews upon release, it is now cited as one of the greatest comedy series of all time. Since The Office, Gervais has only been scaling the heights, hosting the Golden Globe awards, lending his talent to films, becoming a voice artist and appearing on numerous talk shows to just name a few of his credits.
Sarah Silverman is a force to be reckoned with in the world of comedy! The American comedian, actress, and writer is notable for her subversive and insightful commentaries on the social construction of race, gender, and religion. She first tried stand-up comedy in a Boston club at age 17 which inspired her love of live performance and from there she began to make her mark on the comedy world. Featuring on Saturday Night Live and scoring roles in various films such as School of Rock, Wreck-It Ralph and A Million Ways to Die in the West, Silverman has an accolade of achievements and in more recent years she is the host of the two-time Emmy-nominated weekly topical series, I Love You America.
Chirs Rock is no newbie to comedy. Rock has been in stand-up comedy for several decades making his big-screen debut in Beverly Hills Cop II in 1987 and gaining attention whilst being on the cast of Saturday Night Live in the early ’90s. One of his major successes was with the Emmy winning talk show The Chris Rock Show; an HBO weekly late-night talk show created by and starring Rock himself.
Rock went on to host the Academy Awards twice, in 2005 and 2016. He has won four Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards. Chris Rock was voted the fifth-greatest stand-up comedian in Comedy Central Poll ‘Top 100 Comedians’ and has also made waves overseas; being voted in the United Kingdom as the eighth greatest stand-up comic on Channel 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2010.
The actress, comedian and playwright broke into comedy whilst being featured as a player in The Second City – the Chicago-based improvisational comedy group. She joined Saturday Night Live to only later become the first female head writer on the show. She’s known for creating several comedy series such as 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and for writing the 2004 hit rom-com Mean Girls.
Fey has received numerous awards, including nine Primetime Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, and seven Writers Guild of America Awards, not a bad roster of achievements right?
Wanda Sykes ranks among Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America. Her quick wit and intellect have sent her comic career into many different avenues including movies and voice over work too. She became widely recognised in 1997 when she joined the writing team and made multiple appearances on The Chris Rock Show. The writing team for this show was nominated for four Emmys, and in 1999 it won for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. She is also known for her roles on CBS’ The New Adventures of Old Christine and HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Widely regarded for her talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen DeGeneres is an iconic figure known for her work as a comedian, television host, actress, writer, and producer. Starting a stand-up career in the 1980s, DeGeneres started performing stand-up comedy at small clubs and coffee houses and it wasn’t long until she began to tour nationally and soon after be named Showtime’s funniest person in 1984. . In 2012 DeGeneres received the Kennedy Centre’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humour, and four years later she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also received the Carol Burnett Award which was in honour of her contributions to television and entertainment in 2020.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Hart began his career by winning several amateur comedy competitions at clubs throughout New England. Hart had his first break when he was cast by Judd Apatow for a role on the TV series Undeclared in 2001. Following this Hart acted in titles such as Paper Soldier, Scary Movie 3 and Little Fockers. Hart’s comedic reputation only continued to grow with the release of his first stand-up album I’m a Grown Little Man in 2008. Off the back of this success, he went on to release four more comedy albums. In 2015 Time Magazine named Hart one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list.
So there we have it, the top 10 most famous stand up comedians and comedy actors! Although there are so many more incredible and ground-breaking comedians, here were just a handful of those who have made a substantial stamp on comedy and entertainment and we salute them for bringing lots of laughter into our lives.
Let us know who your favourite comedians are in the section below, who did we miss out on this time around?
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