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October 21, 2014

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REVIEW:

Carrot Top: Anything for a laugh, and his frenetic formula works

He can be juvenile, yes, but also smart and topical

Image

Leila Navidi

Carrot Top impersonates Michael Jackson at the Atrium Theatre in the Luxor. Carrot Top’s comedy may be (intentionally) dumb, but it’s not stupid. His act has a transgenerational appeal and it’s impressively up to the minute.

Carrot Top

Carrot Top holds his redneck baby carrier during his performance at the Atrium Theatre inside the Luxor Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009.  Launch slideshow »

If You Go

  • What: Carrot Top
  • When: 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday and 9 p.m. Saturday (dark Tuesday)
  • Where: Atrium Theatre at Luxor
  • Admission: $54.95-$65.95; 262-4400, www.luxor.com
  • Running time: About 90 minutes, including warm-up comic
  • Audience advisory: Adult language and themes, naughty props, Carrot Top’s face

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Carrot Top had been onstage less than two minutes when I turned to Leila Navidi, the Sun photographer seated next to me, and whispered, “If you tell anyone how hard I laughed at this, you’ll never work in this town again.”

He’s inescapable in Las Vegas — that blaze of orange curls and grimacing grin leering out from highway billboards, bus sides and taxi tops. Still, it took me a whole year to find out how exactly Carrot Top, the redheaded stepchild of the Strip, has reigned for three years at Luxor.

If you’re an ADD specialist, a seventh grade detention monitor or a mom of young boys, you can take a pass on Carrot Top’s short attention span showbiz shtick.

Bratty, juvenile, sophomoric — and oddly lovable — he’s got you even before you can get used to that face, with more jokes compressed into the first five minutes than most other comics could hope to find in a whole set.

Relentlessly silly, operating in a relaxed frenzy, his famously jacked physique somehow obscured in his goofy tie-dyed T-shirt and patched jeans, Carrot Top paces back and forth on his customized stage carpet, grabbing objects from his eight bulky footlockers and tossing them away after use.

These footlockers are his toy boxes, the stage is his playpen, and he unleashes a semi-automatic barrage of jokes, augmented by sound cues, video clips and scores of props, most of which look to be handmade by CT himself (“Here’s an Amish blow dryer ... a redneck baby carrier ... this is me in a Speedo ...”)

Carrot Top’s comedy may be (intentionally) dumb, but it’s not stupid. His act has a transgenerational appeal and it’s impressively up to the minute, with a flight of Obama jokes, pokes at pop culture peccadillos and riffs on headlines that will appear in the next day’s papers.

But he’s also a direct descendant of the vintage Borscht Belt jokesters, and some of his stuff is almost refreshingly hokey and corny, swiped straight from the naughty gags shelf at Spencer Gifts (a Hooters job application, a golf putter for guys on Viagra).

It’s no use recounting specific jokes, because most of them are of the “you had to be there” variety. Representative topics include “Carrot Jr.,” Vegas and Vegas hotels, sports, airports, NASCAR, country music and that Killers song that asks “are we human or are we dancer?”

He’s mean and hilarious when tweaking his fellow Strip headliners: His micro-impression of Donny & Marie is a literal scream, and Criss Angel takes some extensive ribbing, including a killer 10-second crystallization of Angel’s “Believe” act. The finale is epic: CT opens up the eighth trunk and takes us on a rude and rollicking tour of rock ’n’ roll history.

The wit and insight of Carrot Top doesn’t go particularly deep, but there’s a restless intelligence in evidence here, and he is clearly operating on multiple levels, cagily scanning and reacting to the audience, calibrating his next volley and shooting off ad-libs.

The result is a different show every night, which is why he enjoys good repeat business. It’s probably the best comedy value on the Strip: If you divide your ticket price by the number of laughs, you’re bound to come out in the black.

Here’s the take-away: Carrot Top will do anything for a laugh — making faces, silly walks, spewing Altoids from his mouth, and when all else fails, fart jokes.

And it doesn’t really matter if you laugh or not: Carrot Top is as adept at cracking himself up as his brothers in brattiness Jimmy Kimmel and Mike Myers, and he gets just as many yucks when a joke just lies there.

But you will. Resistance is futile.

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