By Bobbie Katz
No, it’s not Christmas but the man with all the toys is coming nightly to a casino near you (provided you’re in Las Vegas).
Ok, so he may be slightly “off his tree,” but that doesn’t negate the fact that he is bringing the gift of laughter, one with a slightly unique ring to it. That, of course, is compliments of prop comedian Carrot Top’s very big sack full of the “bells and whistles” that allows him to answer the call of the wild and zany nightly at the Luxor.
“People have told me that my show is like being a kid again,” he says. “It’s real fun and silly. I’m very playful on stage. I think it comes across as non-threatening. The fun part about doing what I do is being able to make people feel good and laugh and not worry about life, especially with the way the world is now. People see me and associate me with fun and they smile.
”If it’s “ham” folks are looking for, Carrot Top will be serving it up via some pretty funny utensils. Within his bag of props, which he creates and builds himself, he has lots of Las Vegas items, some in which he puts your money where his mouth is.
“I have a coin bucket with a fake top so that it looks like it’s always full,” the comic says. “Then I have a coin bucket with a chain on it, like people who chain their wallets to them. And I have a bucket with a dip cup on it for rednecks. I always have something for a redneck joke.”
“I have a telephone prop that was one of my favorite jokes when I first started doing this way back when,” he adds.”Remember the paper cups and string that kids used to use as telephones? Well, I made one for kids who live in today’s world. It has a third cup for call waiting.
”It was this kind of creativity and wacky persona, along with his red hair that looks like he spent all his life with his finger in a wall outlet, that has netted Carrot top his popularity and long-term gig at the Luxor. However, how one goes from class clown to the other side of Mattel in 12 short years is a story of creation in itself.
Born Scott Thompson in Coco Beach, Florida, he began sowing the seeds for his career in grade school, where he was always trying to make people laugh. By the time he got to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, he was the campus comic, attending open mic nights and telling jokers about the school. Despite that, he earned a degree in marketing there.
It was during his college days that Thompson used his first props. Imitating one of the university’s most unpopular teachers, he donned a wig. Then he heard about a comedy contest in Palm Beach. Told that his school material wouldn’t work, he began to create other locally targeted comedic items. With South Florida being a big retirement community, Thompson made a hat that his grandmother could wear while driving. It had a head on top of the hat so that her head could be seen above the seat.
“I took a Neighborhood Crime Watch sign off a wall and went on stage,” Carrot Top recalls. “I told the audience I was sorry I was late, but I was in the neighborhood. I then held up the sign and asked, ‘How good can the crime watch be if they’re not even watching the sign?’
”From that time on, Thompson entered every South Florida contest he could find. His act kept evolving and he began playing different clubs. Before he first went out on the road, however, he decided that he needed a marketable name. As a kid, he had always been called Red, Fireball and Carrot Top. He chose the latter and discovered that people were laughing as soon as his name was announced – before he ever hit the stage.
“When I walked on, I had a red wig that I wore over my red hair,” Carrot Top remembers. “I would then pull it off and underneath I’d have the same real hair. I’d say to the crowd about my wig, ‘Wow, you think this is goofy? Wow, look at this!’ and I’d remove the wig. It was a good opening.
After hooking up with a man who owned 70 comedy clubs, enough to keep him working the rest of his life, Carrot Top got his big break: a call from the “Tonight Show” starring Jay Leno. Leno was very complimentary to the comic, citing that he was very creative, clever and different. Admittedly, Carrot Top’s generation had never seen anything like him before. He was in the right place at the right time and catapulted into the public eye.
The question is, is Carrot Top a character Thompson created or is Thompson really Carrot Top? “That’s a really good question,” he answers. “I always tell people it’s me but with a little more animation. There’s always more energy when Carrot Top hits the stage. I’m out there being myself but onstage I’m more character-driven, though not much. It’s not hard for me to find Carrot Top. I think people associate Carrot Top with a character more than I do. That’s not a problem, either. When I’m home wearing a T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops, I don’t come across as zany offstage as I do onstage. But my hair is as wacky offstage.
” Having no idea of how many props he has created over the years, Carrot Top says that he has a basic structure for his act but that he changes the inside of it every night. He will often ad-lib or go off on a tangent and he inserts new things into his act, whether a verbal joke or a prop, on a continuous basis. Seeing his act as timeless, the comedian wants people to have a good time and be silly and to hold on to the child inside, believing that does truly keep us young.
“I just want to do my thing,” he sums up. “I ultimately want longevity to my career. I just want to be happy and be able to continue doing what I’m doing, making people laugh 20 years from now.”
That’s the gift that keeps on giving all year round.
This article appears by courtesy of Vegas Insider Daily.com.