In the 1970s, 1980s, and even through the 2000s, Las Vegas offered a lot of what you might consider kitschy entertainment.
While crooners like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley were synonymous with the city, the Las Vegas Strip also hosted a lot of variety acts.
Back in the day the Strip hosted everything from magic acts to plate spinners, jugglers, showgirls, and lots of entertainment offerings that now would largely get laughed at. Even some of the biggest performers during those days — Siegfried & Roy and David Copperfield to name two — bordered on the kitschy.
Yes, their shows were major spectacles, but they were also a bit over the top. In many ways, they were like showgirls. The acts were "only in Las Vegas" experiences, which made sense on vacation but would not draw audiences outside that setting.
Like showgirls, those kinds of acts have largely disappeared in Las Vegas, aside from a few institutions. You can argue that Wayne Newton and Donny Osmond, both of whom have residencies at Caesars Entertainment (CZR) -) properties, might fit the "only in Las Vegas" category, but they are no longer the norm.
Most Las Vegas Strip showrooms host big names who can draw anywhere. Adele, Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart, and Sting — who all have residencies at Caesars Coliseum — are performers who can sell out anywhere in the world. The same can be said of Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, who have residencies at MGM Resorts International (MGM) -) resort casinos.
MGM, however, does have one big showroom featuring an act that's huge in Las Vegas who likely would not be nearly as big a draw anywhere else in the world.
Controversial comedian signs major Las Vegas Strip extension
Prop comics have always been a limited genre. Aside from Gallagher, who made smashing watermelons a key part of his act, it's hard to think of another prop comic who made it really big.
Carrot Top, who has headlined at MGM's Luxor since 2005, borrows heavily from Gallagher. He has other influences, however, according to an MGM news release from 2015 that celebrated him extending his residency through 2000.
"Carrot Top’s successful and storied career has allowed him to develop a completely unique genre of comedy that is self-explained as a combination of George Carlin (for his observational humor), Steven Wright (for his dark, sick humor), and Gallagher (for his use of props)," the company said.
"Utilizing that one-of-a-kind style, the resident show is ever-evolving and has become a Las Vegas staple, reflecting current headlines, consistently poking fun at pop culture, politics, and music."
And while the comparison to Carlin may be a stretch, Carrot Top has kept his act current. He's a unique Las Vegas draw and MGM has signed him to keep playing at Luxor for another five years.
Carrot Top is very Las Vegas
When he finishes this contract, Carrot Top (real name Scott Thompson) will be 65. He will also have been a Las Vegas headliner for 23 years. That's an impressive run that puts the performer among the Las Vegas Strip's top acts of all time.
Before his run at Luxor, the prop comic headlined at MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater.
And while he's not controversial for what he says, Carrot Top's act has always been a bit controversial because it's not a traditional comedy show.
Instead, it's a sometimes groan-inducing performance that relies heavily on props. That's probably not going to draw fans of Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, or other "smart" comics, but it has become a Las Vegas institution.
To be fair, Carrot Top has used prop comedy less in his current act than in previous years.
"And while prop comedy made him famous on shows like "Star Search," Carrot Top relies on it less in this newest iteration," Las Vegas magazine reports.
"Don’t worry — there is definitely comedy of the prop variety present and accounted for. ... But while he starts the show with these priceless playthings, he quickly moves onto supplemental material."
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