Having abandoned its attempt to create the listicle “Celebrities Whose Faces We Recreated Out Of Stacks Of Money, Then Ranked Them According To Who Had The Biggest Money-Nose,” Forbes has moved on to devising a different hierarchy of estimated earnings around stand-up comedians. The magazine’s “Top-Earning Comedians Of 2013” looks at people who spend their lives seeking the reward of laughter, as well as the monetary equivalent of laughter, primarily through concert ticket sales—meaning comedians who also see lucrative proceeds from their successful TV and movie careers cannot count those. Nor can they count “cred,” a made-up term in the comedy world signifying that you can’t be booked at state fairs, because everyone will hate you.
What’s left, then, looks a lot like what you might expect: mostly a list of entertainers whose affable observations about everyday objects, ethnicity, obesity, and farts play to the broadest audience possible, particularly if they also have a puppet. It’s a list where Louis C.K. ranks right in the middle, easily outmatched by not one but two ventriloquists—Jeff Dunham, of course, but also Terry Fator, a former America’s Got Talent winner who ranks second only to Jerry Seinfeld as the nation’s most popular comic, apparently.
It’s a list that confirms that no one ever went broke underestimating the American public’s taste for jokes about being a different race. Or fat. Or a different race and fat. It’s a list that asks, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we gave Daniel Tosh, like, $11 million right now?” It’s a list that confirms that females really aren’t funny, at least if you measure funniness in terms of pretax gross income. It’s a list, in other words, you can probably take not all that seriously, then convert that frivolity into an estimate of monetary value in order to assign it a ranking. Here it is:
1. Jerry Seinfeld, $32 million
2. Terry Fator, $24 million
3. Russell Peters, $21 million
4. Jeff Dunham, $19 million
5. Louis C.K., $16 million
6. Kevin Hart, $14 million
7. Larry The Cable Guy, $13 million
8. George Lopez, $12 million
9. Daniel Tosh and Gabriel Iglesias, $11 million [TIE]
10. Ron White, $10 million
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