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Look out for Carrot Top

After earning a degree in marketing from Florida Atlantic University, Scott Thompson did what most other college graduates do.

Well, not exactly.

What Thompson did was pull his red hair up into pigtails so he looked like the little girl on the Wendy's Restaurant logo, change his name to Carrot Top and go to work as a comic.

"I didn't want to wear a suit and tie to work," he said from his car phone while on his way to Las Vegas to do a show.

He got his start in stand-up between classes at FAU, and would go to local clubs and try his material on open mike nights.

"I always wanted to get a business degree," he said, "but at the same time, I always liked to be an entertainer. I was kind of feeling (that) I wanted to do that. It was never really a plan.

His unconventional career choice paid off.

Since starting comedy in the late '80s, Carrot Top has appeared on various TV shows, including Live With Regis and Kathie Lee and Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect. In addition, he won the American Comedy Award for Best Male Stand-up in 1994, and has his own show (Carrot Top's A.M. Mayhem) on the Cartoon Network. He just finished his first movie (Chairman of the Board) in a three-movie deal with Trimark Pictures.

"I consider myself the hardest-working man in show business," he said. "I just took that (title) from James Brown."

Despite his success in the entertainment industry, he can't stay away from the academic atmosphere. Carrot Top's largest audiences are college crowds. He travels to more than 200 schools a year.

"It's always nice to work the young crowds," Thompson said. "I consider myself a young guy, too (he's 29), so I'm kind of on the same level with them.

"Young kids are always just there to laugh and have a good time. They aren't really bogged down in too much.

"Plus I get credit for classes when I go. I'm finishing up my degree. I'll have my doctorate by the end of next year," he said jokingly.

Evidence of a quick mind is apparent in Carrot Top's act, in which he employs a fast-paced series of sight gags.

"I don't really have a formula for it," he said. "It's just one of those things. My brain triggers that way. I usually come up with ideas.

"I have one that has always been my favorite," he said. "The telephone when you're a kid. It's paper cups and a string. Well, I made the '90s version, which is a third cup for call waiting."

Even though he has gained a large fan following with his props, there are those who say that sight gag humor isn't a valid form of comedy.

Carrot Top dismisses this criticism.

"I don't even comment on that anymore, because if it was (invalid), people wouldn't like it. It's one of those questions that you get and you wonder where it came from.

"It's kind of like acting," he said. "Whether you're a physical actor or a method actor, acting is acting. Comedy is comedy, it's a form of entertainment.

"I think the key is to make people laugh."

At a glance

Carrot Top at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 8 p.m. Friday, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $22.50. For information, call 791-7400.

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