When Carrot Top comes out on stage in his showroom at the Luxor Hotel and Casino there’s no telling what crazy contraption he’s going to pull out next, but classifying him as just a prop comic is an understatement.
His wacky inventions are merely an extension of his outrageous and hilariously funny personality. While some jokes are based on items that he pulls from his prop trunks, others rely on his talent as a stand-up comedian with observational humor on everything from tourists and NASCAR to celebrities and current events. A comedy show that will leave your abs aching, this is definitely not a show for the whole family… unless you’re the type of parent that Carrot Top pokes fun at. Celebrating 10 years of performing in Las Vegas, we chatted with this King of Comedy about his show, how he is celebrating this career milestone and what we will be seeing from him in the future.
Vegas.com: Congrats on your upcoming 10-year anniversary! How will you be celebrating?
Carrot Top: I really can’t believe it, it’s unbelievable. We have a little cardboard cutout of me, my logo and we made it for my five-year anniversary and my logo is like a little shadow of myself holding a peace sign, so we made it into five instead of two and I was looking at it last night and I was like, I remember when we made that! And it’s been another five years, just crazy.
VDC: How will you be celebrating your anniversary?
CT: I’ll probably be taking a nap. Maybe some extra Crown, yeah sure, it’s a party, a celebration! It’s going to be fun, yeah.
VDC: How did you get started as a prop comedian?
CT: I don’t know. Well I know the answer to this — when I was performing very early on, back in the ’80s, I remember going to the comedy club and I would be the 15th or 16th comic to go up so everyone was doing the same topics, you know? Doing a Michael Jackson joke or whatever the topics were back then and when I hit the stage it was the same thing. So I put a little twist on it and instead of talking about the same topics, I had a visual that was different so it stood out a little bit. It might have still been a Michael Jackson joke but I had a prop. So it slowly started that way and then I realized that it was working and that people liked it. I used to always say that it was like show and tell, but with liquor. I’m holding all of these objects and people are drinking, so it is like a really fun edition of show and tell. But I just slowly started to do the props and I liked doing it too. It was fun that one, it was different, that no one was doing props and second, it was actually kind of fun to make them and think of them and create them. So I just started to come up with a whole bunch of them and then it kind of became the shtick and that’s why I think it worked because I had such a different act and it kind of stood out, you know?
VDC: How would you describe your act?
CT: It’s an interactive mess, to tell you the truth because there’s sound effects, there’s light, there’s jokes, there’s props, there’s visual stuff happening, there’s fog light, there’s strobe light, there’s bubbles, snow, just so much of everything happening at one time. So it’s kind of a very layered, but definitely a rock ‘n’ roll kind of edge to it, I think. There’s a lot of music and I love music and incorporating it in with comedy. I have a lot of stuff that is all just based on the music side of things. This is cool because everybody can relate to it too. Most every song I use, people either know it or have heard it and it brings back a memory or something.
VDC: After performing for so many years, how do you keep your show fresh for yourself and for the audience?
CT: Oh my God, since 1986. I’m an old bastard! I put a box of baking soda in each trunk… no. I don’t know, I just try to keep it current. I woke up this morning and read the paper and I watch a lot of TV and news and sports and whatnot just to kind of keep up with the current events and what’s happening. So it’s always a process of keeping your eyes open and ears open.
VDC: What’s the story behind the Crown Royal shots you give out during your show?
CT: I think just because I like Crown so it was my choice, my favorite and then the Crown people got word of it and they got involved and they sponsored us. And so it actually worked out really good — I used to pay for it myself every night and then they came through and said, ‘Hey! I love this idea, let’s give you some Crown.’ So, that’s even better.
VDC: Tell us about the change you made to the show with 30 minutes of prop-less comedy.
CT: Well, it has slowly been evolving in a sense. Kind of just changing the whole show so it’s slowly become that. I’m not getting rid of the props, I’ve just incorporated a little more stand-up in the show just to kind of change it up. So it’s kind of a different thing but I still have plenty of props.
VDC: What is one of the most memorable things that has happened during your show?
CT: Oh wow. In my show or in my career? I think there have been a few things in my career that… my very first “Tonight Show” was pretty overwhelmingly exciting. And I remember working on “Comic Relief” with Robin Williams and all of those guys, that was pretty intense, pretty surreal. Doing “The Hangover,” they shot that in my theater, in my dressing room. Now it is pretty cool, when they shot it, I had no idea who these people were you know, Bradley Cooper wasn’t a big star and I didn’t really know anything about what I was getting myself into and now that it came out and it’s such a big thing, people always walk by and they say, they shot it right there on that couch and I’m like, ‘yeah, they shot it right there.’ It’s pretty fun, so that’s pretty memorable thinking back on it.
But just doing shows in general, it’s always fun when you have different celebrities come. Like when you’re doing a show and the drummer from Queen is backstage, it’s just like, ‘this is not happening, I can’t believe this.’ You know? It’s very cool. I just think that people are excited to meet other people, especially people that I’ve admired growing up. I mean, I grew up with Queen and then to see him in my audience and then backstage after the show, it’s just kind of one of those great moments in history. I grew up listening to Queen and I never thought that I’d get the chance to meet him and be a friend of his.
VDC: What is your favorite joke to tell?
CT: Oh goodness, I don’t know. It’s always fun to have a joke that always works. I call it my “free bird,” it’s my impersonation of Wendy’s; the Wendy’s girl. It’s simple, it’s just a visual. I just put my hair in pigtails and go, ‘shit, she’s here.’ When I go to get lunch at Wendy’s and they’re like oh my God, Wendy is in the drive-thru! It’s silly but it’s one of those that I did so many years ago and it’s kind of become, like I said, my free bird.
VDC: How do you come up with the ideas for your props?
CT: You know what, like I said earlier, it’s from the news and observation. You know, just walking down the Strip, you might find something funny and try to incorporate that in, so it’s a little bit of both.
VDC: What’s the most awkward prop you’ve ever made?
CT: The most awkward? I have a warehouse full of ones that didn’t work…I would make them and they would be so funny but they wouldn’t work and I’m like, ‘dammit!’ But I have had so many over the years and there’s some that have been kind of elaborate. I had a jacket one time and this one I thought was so great but it never quite worked. It was a jacked with all of these flash bulbs built into it so it looked like a lot of photographs being taken at one time. So I made this for — I think I made this for me — when I would go on red carpets so it would look like people are taking pictures of me, just to get more attention like, ‘who’s that guy?! They are all taking shots of him!’ but it never really got a laugh. I don’t know… it was so clever and it looked so cool when the flash bulbs would go off but people were like, ‘what the heck?’
VDC: Does it take more skill to be a prop comedian than a standard stand-up comedian?
CT: Well, I don’t know if it’s that, it’s just a whole different style, I can’t take away from regular stand-up because when I started experimenting with that, it seems harder for me than with doing the props but I’ve had a lot of friends who are comics and when I say ‘hey, come up with a couple of props,’ they can’t do it. So, it’s just a different creative mindset, it’s not really harder than the other, it’s just a different form of creativity.
VDC: Tell us about the movie “Michelle Darnell” that you will be in next April.
CT: That was a cool moment. She is so funny. It was great, I guess she is big fan and I didn’t know that. So, they reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a little cameo and we went to Atlanta and shot with her all day. I played a centaur; it was so silly and just getting to act with her and be in a movie with her is just tremendous, tremendous fun.
VDC: Who is your favorite comedian?
CT: Well, George Carlin when he was alive, he was my favorite. He’s no longer with us anymore but I used to love watching him. He was just so, so funny and I just loved the way he used his mind. He’s very, very smart, I mean, he is brilliant smart. And the whole show you’re just kicking yourself watching going, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ He was very good at observational humor and he would say things like, ‘You ever notice how everyone going faster than you is an idiot and everyone slower than you is a moron?’ He’d say, ‘Moron, move! And then you say, ‘look at that f***ing idiot just flying by!’ Just great observational things of everyday life and then her would put a twist on it. But there are so many comics nowadays that it’s hard to pick just one. I just did an episode on “Ellen” and she makes me laugh out loud. She is so funny. And I love Steven Colbert, I love [Jimmy] Fallon. All of these guys were comics at one point and now they are all moved on to do these big shows.
VDC: Has your appearance on “Ellen” aired?
CT: Yes. We did it last week. It was really funny. I was part of her “squad” you know? She said, ‘Taylor Swift has a squad and she’s always got all of these super models, so I have my own squad.’ She introduced her squad and I was one of them. I was her ‘brother from another mother.’ It was funny.
VDC: What do you like to do in Vegas when you’re not performing?
CT: I like going around town, there are so many places. The Strip is fun and then we have Downtown Summerlin, which they just opened up and that’s fun. I take my dog to The Lazy Dog.
VDC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CT: We just got involved with this anti-bullying champagne. It’s great. The company is called Pacer. We kind of came up with this idea and brought it to them about being their spokesperson and trying to get involved to help with bullying. There are so many things and so many people have different feelings on bullying. Some people think it is so important in life and that it builds character and that’s bull***t. There is no such thing as people being bullied to build character, it’s ridiculous that people have that belief. Everyone gets picked on in life, I mean, I get picked on every day — just read my Twitter page. That’s different. One, I am an adult and I can take it, but most of this stuff that we are talking about is for kids and that age where they really don’t understand. They get bullied at school, they get bullied on the bus, and then they get bullied at home on the internet, so it’s become more and more intense with social media.
I love kids and I’ve been trying to come up with an idea to get involved and we looked up the biggest anti-bullying company and that was Pacer. We just went to them and said, ‘Hey, what do you think of me being involved?’ Of course we want people to donate to help kids with counseling and whatnot but it’s also just awareness. So we have these little stickers that we made and they’re orange and we started out by going to different celebrities — could be anybody, could be politicians, it could be actors, could be musicians, comedians, anybody — and we are having them put the sticker in their hand and taking a picture of it. It’s been so great because now we are getting so many big names to get involved and on the website they are going to start posting these. So, every day there will be all these cool images of celebrities and all of that showing their support so it should be pretty cool.
Get tickets to see Carrot Top perform at the Luxor on select dates.