They say there is power in words, and for a comedian like Rickey Smiley, there is wealth too. The Birmingham native knew he would become an entertainer but never imagined that comedy was his forte. He has gone from being an opening act to selling out his own Karaoke shows. The generous comedian believes in using his wealth to help those in need; even as a child, he made sandwiches and boiled hotdogs for hungry children. In April 2021, he offered a $5,000 reward for information regarding a shooting at Patton Park that left a 32-year-old innocent bystander dead and five other victims hospitalized. Although he wishes generosity and fatherhood to be his ultimate legacy, there is no harm in looking at Rickey Smiley’s net worth and how he achieved it.
Church Background Influences His Career Choice
When Smiley talked to SunSentinel, he revealed that growing up in church played a huge role in his comedy. The comedian was raised by a single mother. However, he spent most of the time with his grandmother, who took Smiley to church every Sunday. The little boy would follow his grandmother everywhere, even to the extra programs she attended. As he watched the church musicians, Smiley knew he wanted to be involved in music. Thus he began taking piano lessons. He became obsessed such that he later majored in Music at Alabama State University. The accomplished pianist still plays piano in his church for Sunday school. Getting a taste of music was the beginning of a whole journey of exploration. Smiley’s mother would take little Smiley to music concerts, and the comedian remembers watching Marvin Gaye, Kool and The Gang, and James Brown perform. He was inspired by such musicians to become an entertainer. According to BlackDoctor, he realized his comedic talent in seventh grade. However, it was not until he was at Alabama State University that he dove headfirst into comedy. Before The Comedy Club on Green Springs Highway closed after a fire, Smiley accompanied his friend Chucky Jenkins during an open mic session. He decided to try his luck, and the owner of The Comedy Club, Ayers, saw potential in the 19-year-old. Ayers advised the upcoming comedian to keep his jokes clean, which Smiley did. To this day, he is known as one of the few comedians who keep their jokes clean; he explained that he prefers shows that the young and old alike can watch and be entertained.
Becoming a Renowned Comedian
Getting his professional start in comedy was an uphill climb. According to BlackPast, Smiley was booed at the Apollo Theater because he was introduced as a comedian from Alabama. However, he was determined to make his chosen career successful and did not mind earning as little as $100 as the opening act. By then, he had already secured a job as the permanent opening act at The Comedy Club in Birmingham, but things turned for the better in 1999. Smiley says he will forever be grateful to Steve Harvey, who helped take his career to the next level. Harvey gave Smiley the platform to be his opening act and, as he hosted “Family Feud,” praised Smiley. He told the audience that the young comedian would be the next greatest entertainer, which had Smiley crying when he went off stage. It was so kind of Harvey to anoint the upcoming talent in front of his peers, and maybe those words of prophecy are what propelled Smiley’s career. Smiley has consistently drawn from his church background to come up with original characters such as “Joe Willie,” “Lil’ Daryl,” and “Mrs. Bernice Jenkins,” among others. He has released chart-topping comedy CDs such as “Open Casket Sharp,” which reached no.5 on Billboard and remained in the chart for a week. “Prank Calls Vol.6” peaked at no.4 on Billboard and stayed charted for six weeks. His efforts in leaving his audience in stitches of laughter have been recognized because, in 2004, Smiley received the Platinum Mic Viewer’s Choice Award during the BET Comedy Awards in California. He told TV One that he loves what he does. He wakes up every day to bring joy to the lives of others. The greatest satisfaction is knowing that his talents are a form of escapism for his audience. The bespectacled comedian added that he is blessed with sold-out tours; he holds weekly Karaoke at Stardome, and the shows have been sold out since their inception.
Now a Jack of All Trades
Smiley’s talents are beyond stand-up comedy. He signed a five-year programming agreement with HBO; since Issa Rae has recently signed a five-year deal with HBO allegedly worth $40 million, perhaps Smiley’s contract was around a similar value. Smiley has had several acting gigs that have helped to increase his net worth. He was in “ Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming,” where he played himself hosting a show. The comedian guest-starred in “Let’s Stay Together” and played Calvin in “Baggage Claim.” Smiley also scripted his own episode of “Comedy Central Presents.” The comedian is a radio host who signed a deal with Radio One after teaming up with Roger Bobb to create “The Rickey Smiley Show.” In 2017, he signed a multi-year extension deal of that radio deal. The multi-talented Smiley also showcased his culinary skills through “Cooking Up Comedy,” which was started to increase linear viewership on social media platforms during Thanksgiving. It delivered over 1 million video views on all TV One’s social media channels. He also released his book “Stand By Your Truth,” which NBC disclosed was mainly because of Smiley’s manager. The literary agent told Smiley that after being in the show business for nearly three decades, the comedian had more than enough content for a book. Thus the book is mainly a memoir. With all these different sources of income, it is no wonder that Smiley’s net worth is $5 million.