01/16/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
AMONG THE BUMPER CROP OF HOT young comedians, redheaded Scott Thompson, better known as Carrot Top, stands out from the bunch with his sheer, inspired goofiness. "I'm part man, part vegetable," says Top, whose high-energy act includes rapid-fire jokes, be-wigged lip-synching parodies of such rockers as the Rolling Stones and five trunks of silly homemade props like high heels with training wheels, a Dr. Kevorkian bathtub toy (a rubber duck with an electrical cord) and a paper-cup-and-string phone with a third cup for call waiting.
Top, 28, who won last year's American Comedy Award as Best Male Stand-Up, is a huge draw on college campuses, a frequent Tonight Show guest and a Vegas headliner who pulls down a total of $1 million a year. In February he begins filming the comedy Chairman of the Board, playing an amiable klutz who inherits the head post at a corporation.
Carrot Top's roots reach back to Cocoa Beach, Fla., where he was born the younger of two sons of a NASA engineer, Larry Thompson, and his wife, Donna. Though he majored in marketing at Florida Atlantic University, "I was clueless," he says, when it came time to choose a career. Then in 1987, on a dare from his college buddies at an amateur night in Boca Raton, Fla., Top tried stand-up for the first time. The career mystery was solved. Soon he was appearing on TV shows including Star Search and Comic Strip Live.
Now on the road 320 days a year, Top rarely stays in his four-bedroom house in Charlotte, N.C. Nor does he think about starting a family. "There's just no time for it right now," he says. He does make time for weight lifting, CD shopping and, of course, collecting ingredients for future props. "I've got a garage full of stuff I don't have jokes for yet, like a parking meter and a pay phone," he says. In the meantime, Top makes sure that he puts a box of baking soda in each of his prop trunks. Why? "You know," he explains, "I like to keep my act fresh."