Carrot Top, who will headline at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Silver Legacy Resort’s Grand Exposition Hall, helped create the Together Against Bullying campaign.
Ginger is to cool what garlic is to vampires – a hardcore deterrent.
Comedian Carrot Top knows the feeling all too well. With curly bright red hair, Carrot Top (whose real name is Scott Thompson) wasn’t blessed with too-cool-for-school looks. In fact, the Florida native was a frequent victim of teasing, name-calling and bullying.
That’s why Thompson, who will headline at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Silver Legacy Resort’s Grand Exposition Hall, teamed with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to create the Together Against Bullying (TAG) campaign. The goal is to help prevent and support the more than 13 million students bullied yearly in American schools, he said.
“We kicked it off Monday,” Thompson said from Las Vegas, which he’s called home for the past 10 years.
“My road manager gets credit for this one,” Thompson said. “One of his kids gets bullied. It’s a real problem for so many kids. They get bullied on the school bus, at school, on the Internet and then at home. Some kids actually commit suicide over this. I can relate. I have this kooky red hair, and people have made fun of me every freaking day. So, this is a way raise awareness and donations for PACER to help put an end to bullying.”
Thompson is using his celebrity contacts and fans to send stickers via social media or snail mail that read “Tag You’re It, Unite Together Against Bullying.” The idea is to “Tag it Forward,” Thompson said.
He’s already reached out to Ray Romano, Shania Twain and Nicholas Cage, to name a few. Thompson especially hopes to reach children who are near their emotional breaking point.
“I want kids to know that they are special and don’t have to be victims to bullies,” he said. “They can succeed in life, do whatever they want. They can even become a comedian.”
That’s what Thompson, 50, did. He began performing at open-mic nights in Florida while attending Florida Atlantic to get a degree in marketing. Being a marketing major, Thompson used his education to naturally transform himself into the comedian now called “Carrot Top.” He also decided to use props – or visually comedic inventions as he prefers to call them – to personalize his act.
He didn’t just take already made props and make jokes with them. He took subjects – from politicians to musicians to bad drivers to construction workers – and made props specifically created to make the moment that much funnier.
It worked, and by the mid-1990s, Carrot Top was a household name, working as a continuity announcer for the Cartoon Network and by 1998 starring in his own Hollywood full-length feature film, “Chairman of the Board.”
Ironically, as this was happening and the Internet was becoming accessible to most everyone, Thompson found himself the butt of jokes and insults for his decision to use props in his act. Many comics considered him merely a “prop comic,” as if simply adding visuals could make anyone funny.
Thompson admits it bothered him at first, but seeing his shows sell-out to eager fans wherever he went took precedent to the naysayers, even though most were his comedic peers.
Thompson has challenged comedians to create a prop and write a joke to go with it. So far, no one has done what Thompson can do – create something so off-the-wall funny, such as his paper-cup-and-string-telephone with a third cup for call-waiting.”
In the early 2000s, Thompson guest-starred on several television specials, but his heart has always been in live comedy.
And after a four-month stint at the MGM Las Vegas, Thompson was offered a lucrative contract to be the house comedian at the Luxor Resort and Casino. Thompson is now celebrating 10 years of playing about 300 shows yearly in the Luxor’s 400-seat Atrium Showroom.
It’s rare for any comedian to have such a long-standing engagement at one venue. Comedy isn’t like music, where people return night after night to hear their favorite songs.
“With bands, people want to hear ‘that’ song,” Thompson said. “Comedy’s repeat value isn’t the same as music’s.”
Thankfully, a career now spanning 25 years leaves Thompson with a lot of material. While the timely props and material are of no use, Thompson has thousands of props -- old and new -- stored in a warehouse near the Luxor.
“I’m able to mix it up,” Thompson said. “I can pull out some old stuff and add it to the new stuff. I have a general outline of what each show’s going to be like, but I can veer out of it at any time.”
Having at least eight large trunks full of props gives Thompson plenty of options for humor. His extreme energy, excitement and enthusiasm leave very little room for downtime, often causing fans to tear up in laughter from Thompson’s nonstop humor.
A self-admitted workaholic, Thompson has started to incorporate 30 minutes or more to his act without using props. That’s right – stand-up humor with no props.
“I’d never really done that before, but having a venue to perform at nightly allows for a safe place to practice,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun to venture out and do stand-up without props. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me after shows or send Tweets telling me they liked that part of my show better than the part with props.”
While Thompson said he’ll never give up being a visual comic – he said that’s who he is – he’s enjoying climbing out on a risky branch in the name of humor.
“It’s a new beginning,” he said. “It shuts the critics up, the ones who call me just a prop comic – though not many do that anymore. But what matters the most is that there’s a full house of people laughing every night. That’s what matters most to me. If the fans are laughing and happy, so am I.”