HERE’S SOMETHING THAT makes no sense to the comic known as Carrot Top, who has been playing to sold-out crowds at the Luxor Hotel for ten months now. He can stroll through a casino, his famous atomicred hair aglow, his biceps well veined and bulging, and the old biddies say, “Oh, Carrot Top, we loved you on Regis!”; the hipsters say, “Dude, man, I saw you on Reno 911!”; and the black cats say, “Carrot Top!” positively. And yet so much of the world seems to think he’s just some kind of talent-free muscle-pumped freakazoid with a thing for eye makeup, per the nutty, goofy string of TV ads he did for AT&T. And his fellow comics think even worse of him, as but a dim-bulb prop comic, the lowest of the low.
Normally, this doesn’t bother Carrot Top, who goes by the name Scott Thompson, age thirty-four, when he is not onstage. He’s living the good life in Vegas. “It’s a great gig,” he says happily. “I’m like this semiretired dork. And that’s pretty cool.” Indeed, he’s got a three-year contract with the Luxor that allows him to work just a few hours a night, then withdraw to his airy pad on the town’s outskirts to dream up more props — two highlights are a cowboy boot with a kickstand that enables drunk rednecks to stand without falling over and a combination plate-and-toilet that allows bulimics to eat and upchuck at the same time.
But it upsets him sometimes when his peers say he’s just a prop act.
“Even if I am just a prop act, what’s wrong with being a prop act?” he says, getting worked up, his hair beginning to flip-flop around. “Who gives a shit? It’s just what I do. Look at me. Even my hair’s a prop. But my shows are nothing like the AT&T commercials. When AT&T comes to me and asks me to be part of a billion-dollar campaign, of course I’ll do it, because I’m a whore more than anything else. But those commercials are nothing like me. What I do is kind of rock & roll and hip and cool.”
But with that off his chest, he says that sometimes all he can ask is “Why can’t I be loved, like everybody else?”
As it turns out, he’s been asking that question since he was a kid growing up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where his dad worked for NASA. “I was picked on,” he says. “I was always different. All I wanted was to have blond hair and be like everybody else. But, no, here I am. I went to Florida Atlantic University and got my degree in marketing. I don’t know what happened.”
What actually happened was, at FAU his pals persuaded him to go onstage during an open-mike night at a club, and he killed. After that, he went on the road, grew his hair out, turned into Carrot Top.
In person, odd though he looks — he’s one of those rare individuals who gives the impression of having had major plastic surgery without, he says, ever having had any–he’s about as sweet, open and loony a guy as you could hope to meet. “What’s my most appealing feature?” he says. “My mom would say my smile, but I think it’s my cock. No, no, no. I guess I’ve always been pretty happy. So, I guess, my personality. I’ve always been a good-karma guy.” Also, he spends a lot of time in front of the mirror, “primping and plucking any little hair I see. I don’t have a hair on my body. I’m compulsive about that. I’m not hairy. Thank God.”
And so all is well, more or less, for Carrot Top in Vegas, which has accepted him, unflinchingly, without nasty comment, like no other town ever has before, because that’s just the kind of town it is. In fact, he’s thinking of writing a book about the journey that brought him here.
“It’d be called The Underdog,” he says. “It’d be about growing up a prop comic and all the rejection. And it’d also be about ‘How the fuck did I become Carrot Top?’ Actually, I should call the book Fucked for Life, because I really am going to be this for life. I mean, I like what I do. But every once in a while, I’ll think, ‘This sure is weird.’ And it sure is. Isn’t it?”