Scott “Carrot Top” Thompson has made his mark in the comedy world with crazy inventions and an unmistakable look. The fiery-haired Thompson found a niche with his suitcase of homemade props accompanying his ever-changing stand-up act. As the son of a NASA engineer, Thompson’s clearest career choice wasn’t comedy. But an open-mike night at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he was going to school, gave him his first taste of the stage. After graduation, Thompson held odd jobs while working on his stand-up, and began touring college campuses. He found a more permanent home for his unique brand of funny at Luxor and in December celebrated his fifth anniversary there.
Do you miss being on tour?
I went on tour this summer, and it was nice to do something different. But I think I’m spoiled because it’s nice to do a show and go home, to actually drive to your house and go to sleep and have a normal day. I have most of the day to have a normal day. On the road a lot of the time you have for yourself is the traveling time.
Does it bother you to be pigeonholed as a prop comic?
It doesn’t really bother me because that’s what people want me to do. When I do The Tonight Show and whatnot it’s basically just props. It still gets laughs so it’s working. If they say it in a derogatory form, I just say it’s a different kind of art form, that’s all it is.
Who are your inspirations?
George Carlin was probably my favorite growing up, but I used to listen to Bill Cosby albums and nowadays there are so many contemporary comedians that are out there and are so funny. There’s this guy, Louis C.K., who’s brilliant, and I always liked Chris Rock, and Seinfeld is still solid. There are so many people. Usually the people that I admire and look up to are nothing like me. You would think I would say Rip Taylor or Gallagher, goofy guys, but I always wanted to be different from all of that. I wanted to have a little bit of smart and a little bit of different, too.
What pushed you into becoming this sort of comedian?
Really, I never was any kind of comedian. I came from a family of engineers, my brother is a pilot and my dad worked at NASA, so it’s strange how I turned out to be a comedian at all. Early on when I started doing little jokes onstage there weren’t any props, just me doing stand-up. I had a couple of visual things I threw up there and they ended up working. I started playing a lot of colleges and I thought college students have a short attention span so I’ll do something they can see, like show-and-tell. I started doing it to be different, really, also thinking people would remember the act more if it was something they saw as opposed to something they heard.
If you weren’t a comedian, what would you be doing?
I would pretend that I’m Shaun White and just sign autographs everywhere. I was snowboarding this holiday with my nephew and nieces and naturally I’m on a mountain with a snowboard and my hair, so a few times people were like, “Holy crap, it’s Shaun White!,” and I said, “Wait until you see me snowboard and you’ll know it’s not.”
What persuaded you to get fit?
Ever since before I was a comedian and I was in high school I started working out. I was always into fitness so I just continued it all the way through. When I got to Vegas and I didn’t have anywhere else to go or anything to do I just started concentrating on that as my hobby and getting into it more. It’s really just been a continuation of what I was doing but I probably just got more into it, and now I got back out of it again. I still work out but I don’t do it like that. I just got so big that I was like, “Holy crap! TV already adds 10 pounds,” so I had to cut it out.
Why do people focus on your looks?
I think people always knew me as the skinny Carrot Top and when I got really muscly people were just like “this doesn’t fit your persona as much,” so I think when you’re on television people point you out more than just some guy on the street. My friend on the street can be really huge and no one says anything to him, but they know me so they say something. I wanted to be back to my normal skinny self. That works more not only for my act but for me as well.