By Victor Ochieng
Over the last 10 years, Jerry Seinfeld has held the crown as the highest earning comedian with gross earnings over the past 10 years of over $900 million. That has come to a screeching halt as comedian Kevin Hart has recently surpassed Seinfeld’s earnings.
Kevin Hart, who some would call “the hardest working man in comedy,” has hit a notable landmark recently. According to Forbes magazine’s list of highest paid comedians, Hart has ousted Seinfeld, who has held the position since Forbes started the list, for the number one spot – with earnings of $87.5 million dollars between June of 2015 and June of 2016. This effectively doubles the $43 million earned by Seinfeld, previous leader on the Forbes list.
Hart, who made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine last year, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, having done his first gig at The Laff House in Philadelphia under the moniker “Lil Kev”. It did not go well. In fact, Hart’s career was quite slow in starting as he was booed viciously off stage several times, even once having a piece of chicken thrown at him. “I’ve been to some of the damnedest places for comedy,” Hart told Rolling Stone, “You name it: All shots to my pride have been taken.”
His career in comedy eventually got started in earnest by winning a few amateur comedy competitions throughout the New England area. Though winning these competitions led to better opportunities for Hart, it took time for him to develop his own signature style of comedy – with very little emphasis on race. “I approach it on a universal level,” he explained to Rolling Stone, “If you associate yourself with one group of people, you alienate another 12, you know? So the thing for me is, how can I make everybody laugh at this one thought? The thought may be provoked by something that happened on the stoop or at the barbershop, but now how do I make it broad enough for everyone to understand it and see it?”
There is no secret to Hart’s good fortune: He works hard for it. Over a twelve month period, Hart has played over 100 shows with an average gross of over $1 million at each show. As an established celebrity, these shows are not a small clubs either. Hart plays stadiums and arenas, including Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center. In addition to touring relentlessly, Hart also stars in a wide plethora of films including Central Intelligence, Secret Life of Pets, and Ride Along 2 – all for which he markets voraciously.