As Steve Martin famously once said, “comedy is not pretty.” And perhaps no comedian is less conventionally pretty than Scott Thompson, who performs professionally under the name “Carrot Top,” after the unruly mop of bright red curls that adorns his head.
Thompson’s career trajectory, at first, followed that of multiple other entertainers. He started small, doing low-profile gigs such as at colleges or county fairs, eventually working his way up to the big time.
Carrot Top was huge for a while in the early 2000s, doing commercials and voice work in addition to his sellout comedy shows. To be fair, his rapid-fire style of frenetic one-liners mixed with props has never really been for everybody, but for those who enjoy his brand of humor, he’s as good as it gets.
Unfortunately, Carrot Top all but disappeared from the public eye almost as quickly as he got there. At least, that’s how it seemed to those who haven’t seen much of him on TV or in other media lately. In fact, Carrot Top never actually went anywhere and is still at the top of his game professionally — or may be, once the pandemic is over.
CARROT TOP WAS THE BIGGEST THING IN VEGAS
It’s not uncommon for a performer to take their act to Las Vegas in the twilight of their career, perhaps managing to book a weeks-long or even months-long batch of shows at a Sin City showroom. Some of the luckier ones still have a big-enough profile that they can book years-long residencies at bigger performance halls as headliners. Those who don’t really “get” Carrot Top may be surprised to learn that the prop comic booked a permanent residency at Vegas’ Luxor Hotel in 2018. As KTNV reported, Carrot Top’s show was so popular that in 2019 his residency was given a years-long extension — all the way to 2025.
Las Vegas Review-Journal critic John Katsilometes was one of those people who didn’t “get” Thompson’s act. However, when he finally bit the bullet and went to see the entertainer, he was pleasantly surprised at what he saw. Not only did Carrot Top leave the skeptic in stitches, he absolutely killed when it came to the rest of the audience as well.
“Then he took the stage and … destroyed the place. I could barely keep up for the laughing. He finally halted to ask how the crowd was doing. Exhausted, was the answer from my seat,” the critic wrote.
THEN THE PANDEMIC RUINED EVERYTHING
When the pandemic struck, Carrot Top and the rest of the entertainers in Las Vegas went from performing multiple times per week to being effectively unemployed. Where he once sold out a 1,500-seat theater on a nightly basis, Carrot Top was forced to call it quits, at least temporarily.
In September of 2020, Carrot Top made a video that is still pinned on Twitter that said, “The live events industry has been decimated by COVID-19.” At that point, he said in the video that it had been six months since he’d performed.
Carrot Top asked that people call their congressional leaders to urge them to support the RESTART act. According to what Thompson said, the RESTART’s efforts through an organization called We Make Events was working specifically on behalf of the “12 million Americans employed by the Fireworks and Entertainment Industry,” per We Make Events.
Thompson said in the Twitter video that in order to do his shows, which he called a “unique brand” of comedy, it takes “a lot of production” to make it all work, which means a lot of people are involved. He said, “there are an immense amount of people behind the scenes of shows that a lot of people don’t know are actually suffering the most during this.”
The show must go on
But things are looking up these days, with the availability of vaccines and Sin City crawling back to life, Carrot Top, other entertainers, and all those who work in support of the entertainment industry are trying to get back into the swing of things. For Thompson, that means socially distanced performances.
For now, he’s only selling about one in five of the seats available in his theater, in order to keep everyone at least six feet apart, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. At meet-and-greets hosted by Luxor, fans can buy tickets to “hobnob with one of the city’s most famous comedians of all time,” but due to the pandemic, face masks are required, according to Luxor MGM Resorts.
It’s the way of things for now, so, naturally Carrot Top has worked the coronavirus pandemic into his act. “He pretends to creep down the steps at the front of the stage, a violation [of] the latest space-distance rule, daring security to bust him,” John Katsilometes wrote in Las Vegas Review-Journal of a socially distanced, early April show.
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