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‘You have to be yourself in life,’ funnyman Carrot Top says

Updated December 1, 2023 - 11:58 am

From a headful of curly red hair grew a childhood nickname, not to mention a beat-them-to-the-punchline defense mechanism.

Both would eventually serve him well on stage.

Growing up in the beach town of Cocoa, Florida, the boy otherwise known as Scott Thompson was dubbed Carrot Top by his swim coach.

This wasn’t a good thing.

“Here I was a white, freckled kid with that hair. I didn’t fit in,” the long-running Vegas headliner says. “I was picked on, but not in a horrible way, but still picked on. I’d always find a way to say something funny back before they made fun of me. It was a case of ‘You can’t make fun of him because he just made fun of himself.’

“I’d try to be clever first. Take the wind out of them. Maybe that’s how my career in comedy began.”

And what a career it has been. The prop comic, stand-up and actor recently extended his contract at Luxor through 2030. Carrot Top, 58, also just celebrated his 18th anniversary at the venue.

He says his motivation now isn’t so different than when he was younger: Laughter remains the great equalizer, in good times and bad.

“It’s still the same thing for me,” Carrot Top says. “I hear that first laugh, and I know it’s all going to be OK.”

His good life advice:

Be the rebel

Comedy wasn’t the family business. His father was a NASA engineer. His brother graduated the Air Force Academy and works as an F-16 pilot. “And then you’ve got me,” Carrot Top jokes. “I got a bit of my dad’s creativity. He was clever. But I didn’t get his math side. He did help me pass calculus.”

Early on there was talk of “a real job.” “Air Force Academy? I knew that ain’t happening,” the comedian recalls. “I went to the beat of my own drum, which was the best decision. I was that creative kid, and my family actually encouraged it. You have to be yourself in life even if you redefine the mold.”

Looking back

“I remember coming to Vegas as a kid,” he says. “My mom took me to see Tom Jones, Rich Little and Charo, and I thought those big Vegas shows were the greatest thing ever.”

As a performer, Carrot Top got his start in Vegas at Bally’s. “The most exciting thing was when they moved me to what they called ‘the big room,’” he remembers. “It was nerve-wracking. I had played colleges across the country. Vegas was so different. It was all ages from all countries all over the world. It was major, and still is.”

‘Be a pro’

“I find that I block out all distractions when I’m on stage. You don’t feel this or that or worry about dealing with issues. You just focus on the show. ‘Be a pro and put on a show,’ that’s what I say to myself,” Carrot Top shares. “Everyone needs to find out what blocks out all their distractions.”

Right on time

Carrot Top recalls when he was starting out, playing colleges around Florida. “Friends would say, ‘Well, why aren’t you playing L.A.?’ I’d say, ‘I’m working,’” he says. “And I’d hear, ‘Well then why aren’t you doing movies yet?’ … You can’t allow other people to tell you where your life is supposed to be. I ended up doing it all on my timetable.”

Work it out

“I run every single day and go to the gym, too,” Carrot Top says. “I don’t go too crazy, but I try to keep the heart going, plus I’ll do weights.” He says consistency is key. “You have to make it a part of your routine. My average day is lunch-gym-show. If it’s 3 in the afternoon, I will be at that gym.”

Find your calm

Show business has its stresses. His calm can be found in his backyard. “I get up in the morning and do my own gardening,” the comic says. “I’ll blow leaves and wash things down outside. Water the flowers. Fill the fountain. I put on some music and do my chores. It’s very calming.”

Staying in Top form

“I love food, but I’m not a big eater. I don’t eat family-style meals. But, at the same time, I don’t diet. … If I watch portions, I can eat what I want and stay pretty thin.” He also has cheat days. “On Sunday, I do my burger and pizza. The rest of the time, I’m pretty good about eating fish, rice and broccoli.”

Make the best of it

A few years ago, he suffered a serious leg injury while snowboarding. “It was a freak accident,” Carrot Top says. “I hit a piece of ice and hurt my leg.” He had to figure out how to rehab his leg while going on with his life. “I did shows on a knee scooter. I couldn’t run around, but I made the best of it.”

Love where you live

Carrot Top has homes in Florida and Summerlin. “I do love the West,” he says. “The dryness is great, and it’s gorgeous outside to me every single day, even when it’s hot. I’d rather have 118 than windy and cold. Vegas is home.”

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