The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Nov. 12, 2021

Carrot Top: 30+ Years Of Comedy, The Power Of Consistency, His Favorite Props & Las Vegas

Carrot Top: 30+ Years Of Comedy, The Power Of Consistency, His Favorite Props & Las Vegas

Today's guest is Scott Thompson, better known to fans around the world as Carrot Top (@RealCarrotTop). Carrot Top is a comedian an actor who has been making people laugh for more than 30 years and he joins Chris Van Vliet for this interview at the Blue Wire Studios at the Wynn Las Vegas. Carrot Top talks about performing his show 6 nights a week at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, how Jay Leno and The Tonight Show helped him get his first big break, the art of prop comedy, how he has been able to achieve such longevity in show business, the best advice he has ever received and much more!

On being nervous about the Las Vegas residency:

“Absolutely, I was terrified. I was a road guy and then we would do a residency for like a week or two. We would do two weeks, go on the road and then come back, it was kind of an in and out thing. They offered me the full time residency and I was like, hmm I’m not doing that, I’m a road guy. But I took it, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

On the advantages of being in one place:

“Oh it’s great. I have done this for so long that I have built in an audience, so I am lucky in that regard where people actually come to see me. Back in the day it was [people saying] “We couldn’t get into Cirque Du Soleil, so we went to see Carrot Top.” I still ask every night if people have never seen my show and a lot of people stick their hands up, have never seen my show. It’s cool to get those new fans.”

On playing every night:

“I get the same thing that the audience gets, it’s a rush. That’s what’s so great about performing in front of a live audience, you get to feed off of the energy of the crowd, so every night you get that same kind of energy. Also I get to try new things, we just did a Halloween bit last night. Having a show every night gives me a chance to play around a bit and try the new jokes.”

On how he crafts his jokes:

“The whole idea of any kind of joke, whether it’s a standup joke or a prop, there has to be a beginning and an end. There has got to be something funny and something clever in a sense. For Halloween I did a bit where I said “Because of COVID I played it safe this year, and instead of giving out candy I gave out COVID shots. I’m then there with a pumpkin [mimics vaccination]. So it’s funny, it’s current, and I say “If you feel funny in an hour it’s from the candy and not the vaccination. So there’s the start and the nice big punchline at the end.”

On possibly shaving his hair:

“No, never. I’ve shaved my balls but I have never shaved my head. I love my hair, having hair is like my power. People have asked me if I would cut it for a movie, and of course I would. But now they can just CGI it, bald cap it or whatever.”

On who was the first person to say he was funny:

“I think it was my mom, she would always tell me that I’m funny. Then as it went on, I would make my friends at school laugh. My dad had a great sense of humour, he was very funny with his humour being so dry, he had great timing. He would tell his jokes with all the neighbours, I would try and recreate it the next day in school and would get in trouble. One of the first things I came up with was at 10 or 11. We were at a campfire, there was me and about 20 other kids, and the police came and said we had to put the campfire out. I said ‘Well why not? We are next to water and sand, two things that can put a fire out.’ They thought I was being funny, I wasn’t but my friends were like well he is right. What should I do, go to the woods? I started thinking of observational humour after that and really admired comics who also have the observational humour.”

On his first show and getting started:

“I really don't know how I did, but I remember my first time. I was in college and there was an open mic night. My roommates came back with this flyer, I was like let’s go to this. They said ‘Go? You should be in it!’ I’m like what do I recite poetry, play an instrument? They said I should tell jokes. I told all the old jokes from my dad, it went great. They kept doing the open mic nights every month, and the third time I actually told a few original jokes, but ended with an old joke so I could end strong. My jokes were mainly about college, where I would make fun of the school, the parking and the teachers. There was then an open mic night at a comedy club, so I auditioned. The lady there said I was good, but talking about college isn’t going to work with a diverse crowd, so I had to widen my act. That was when I started using the props. I had a neighbourhood watch sign, which I had stolen and drawn a logo on it, my logo. The hard part is the logo, now I had to write the act. I walked on stage with the sign and said ‘Sorry I was late I was in the neighbourhood. How good is the neighbourhood watch if you are not watching the signs?’ And it killed. The lady said to me can I do more of that? I said, ‘What, stealing signs?’  She said yeah and it all just kind of went from there. The more props I had, the more time I could do.”

On Jay Leno:

“He gave me a lot of opportunities, I was on that show about 30 times. They loved me there and I loved them, I just had to call them and I got a set. I got lucky at the end of the tv bubble, now I don’t know who watches television anymore.”

On his favorite prop:

“One of my favorite props was a paper cup and string phone. I said they should make a new version, and my version had multiple cups. There was one for call waiting, there was one for conference calls, a clear cup for caller ID. It was my closing bit for ages. There has to be some cleverness to it.”  

On possibly stepping away:

“I don’t feel like I am near retirement age. I still have 5 years left on my Vegas deal, this is all I really know how to do. It’s either this or try and guess people’s weight at the fair. But I don’t have any desire to stop, everyone knows it’s when you or no one is enjoying it. If no one shows up to my shows, then I know that’s it.”

On his pre-show rituals:

“Lots of drugs [laughs]. No, there’s not really a lot of prep. There is a different ritual between road shows and host shows. For the Vegas shows, I get there 2 hours early, I have to get there early, music going, soundcheck, maybe rehearse some new stuff. Then there is the meet and greet, shot of espresso, shot of Crown Royal. Then I have a chat with the crew and go ‘Let’s just all do the best that we can.’” 

On advice to aspiring comics:

“The most challenging thing was to become a young comic in 2020, unless it’s all on Zoom. But the best advice I would give is to have as much time on an actual stage to hone in on what you're going to talk about. You have to know what you are going to do for those 5 or 10 minutes. You need to know what is your craft, is it political, dancing, juggling? I wasn’t originally a prop guy, but I had something with visuals, so I made it my thing. I had what I wanted to do in my head. There were a lot of shows where it didn’t go well, everyone does.”

On what he is grateful for:

“My health, my hair and my family.”

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