Neil Patrick Harris: Autobiography vs. Oscar Gig

I’m guessing I will never be one of those timely Oscar bloggers who gets herself syndicated on BlogHer by being the first aficionado to comment knowledgeably on the ill-advised green-card joke by Sean Penn, or the facial hair on Matthew McConaughey, or the prevalence of baby pink amongst red carpet finery. Predictably, life got in the way this week, and Hubbibi was sick, and nobody had energy, and winter’s a-draggin’ (and a dragon), and making observations about Hollywood’s Big Night took a backseat.

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Who wore the baby pink best? I vote for Zoe Saldana, who looks amazing with (as my Grandma Sue would have said) “a bit more meat on her bones” after giving birth to twins.

BUT! Em and I did attend the yoga-pant social event of the year, a.k.a. Karissa’s Oscar Party, and it was a sparkling success as always. Luscious and creatively-named snacks, fun and newly-streamlined trivia, awesome company (including requisite baby to pass around), and Karissa’s new game: the silly-but-challenging Guess Which Celeb’s Cleavage Is Affixed To My Chest game! Since all the guests were women, we could all appreciate the satirical side. (I only guessed right a small handful out of about twenty, but enjoyed the priceless conversational sound bites that came out of it.)

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I’ve included some pics of snacks. Sorry, no cleavage-upon-cleavage.
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Tied for the prize!
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Get it? S’more??

 

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Here’s our contribution, tied for the prize! (Food by me, name inspiration by Em, butter tart flag by my Hubbibi.)

The main reason I wanted to see the Oscars this year, besides getting to attend The Party, was not because I knew the nominees well or was particularly rooting for any of them. It was because of the host, Neil Patrick Harris. I was rooting for NPH, particularly because I just finished reading his autobiography – and that means I know him. We’re not just buddies… we’re like THIS.

If you like Neil Patrick Harris for any reason, you should read his autobiography.

neil patrick harris choose your own autobiography

It’s written in the second person (“you”), set up as a choose-your-own-adventure book. (I quickly remembered why I never read many choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid – not just because I always chose the adventures that got me dead really quickly, but also because I can’t stand missing things. After choosing some NPH-style adventures, I eventually combed through the book to make sure I’d read ALL the things. Note: I was rewarded for this.)

For the record, I never watched Doogie Howser. I’ve never had a crush on NPH. It was a combination of Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, Prop 8 – The Musical, and How I Met Your Mother that made me a fan.

Having read his autobiography, I’m simply… a bigger fan. (As well as his dear chum.) While reading, I realized that:

  • Neil and I have the same deep love for words, especially intricate song lyrics;
  • We are both Rentheads (although I suppose Neil, having actually starred in Rent, has an edge on me) and Sondheim enthusiasts (although I suppose Neil, having actually starred in Assassins, has an edge on me);
  • If needed, we could have a conversation together in sign language;
  • We have both been to Costa Rica and France and Germany and stuff;
  • NPH is way humbler than one would expect;
  • He gets star-struck by other celebrities just like any plebe;
  • He’s generous enough to share recipes, cocktail secrets, and magic tricks with his readers;
  • He writes in a way that is less laugh-out-loud funny (although there were definitely a few guffaws) and more heartwarmingly sincere. Amazed at, and grateful for, his good fortune. Just as nice a guy as you’d like to think he is.
  • It’s also great that, in the second-person context of the book, we readers get to marry David Burtka. Because that guy is sensational.

Now then. People are saying Neil bombed as host of the 2015 Oscars. Well, some are, and some aren’t, and there were certain moments some say were his worst and others say were his best.

Personally, although I can see where some complaints are coming from, I enjoyed his work at the Oscars. I especially enjoyed it because, like I said, we’re buds, so I totally understand NPH and his motivations.

For example. Some said the big mysterious Oscar Predictions gag (where he had his own very specific predictions in a highly-visible lockbox, to be opened – and magically correct! – at the end of the show) was boring. I do think the lead-up could have been briefer. But I know why he did it – two reasons, actually.

One is his deep love for magic. My guess is, there was not a lot of opportunity for him to display his expert magicianship, but he couldn’t not have ANY tricks, so this one had to be elaborate. The concept was David Copperfield-esque, even if the tone was jokey.

The other reason is that, as a theatre person, he needs to wrap things up properly. He’s an award-winning Tony host who has sung closing numbers composed during the show to include the winners. Of course he needed to have an act to “sum it all up and blow it all wide open” (to quote the musical credited with making him gay), while also respecting viewers’ need to go to bed, already. It was good to have a recap.

His little Birdman bit, where he ended up onstage in his undies, was a must – I imagine – for someone who is a theatre guy first. I can practically guarantee that he’s actually had that dream about performing in tightie-whities or less. (Plus he’s starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so many racy dreams have become reality for him.)

neil patrick harris oscars birdman underwear

People are criticizing his mispronunciation of names (he flubbed several, but apparently only one was deliberate). Yes, it doesn’t look good – but could you do better? My feeling is that he was, in spite of all his stage experience, really nervous doing the Oscars. The Broadway world of the Tonys and the TV world of the Emmys are both home for him – but the silver-screen world, not so much. It’s a bigger and tougher audience. Plus, huge pressure for being “the guy who hosts awards shows,” not to mention stepping into the shoes of the much-loved Ellen. It would be easy to mess up a few names, even (or especially) if you’d practiced.

Possibly his most controversial joke was my favourite one: “Love that dress… It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that.”

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Such a perfect double-entendre – and even kind of a compliment. People got all snarky because the dress was worn by Dana Perry, who had just won for the documentary short “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” and dedicated the Oscar to her son who had died of suicide.

But let me be frank here. The Oscar movies this year, and the ceremony too, were full of the brutal pain of real people – suicide, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, racism, addiction, ALS, bereavement, depression, you name it. As a devoted parent, Neil has undoubtedly thought about how painful it would be to lose a child. I’m certain he weighed his quip before making it. Furthermore, if a host’s job is not to lighten the mood, then what is it? There’s supposed to be laughter and happiness on Oscar night. (I mean, she’d just WON an Academy Award.) And as humans, we need to mix humour with our grief, or we’ll never make it through life. It was not a nasty joke. Folks need to lighten up a bit. (For the record, Dana Perry herself is reported to have laughed at the comment.)

Finally, let me state that anyone who says the opening number wasn’t awesome is just being a curmudgeon. It had the sparkling rhymes, the choreography, the cameos by two of my favourite performers (Anna Kendrick and Jack Black).

The song included some criticism of Hollywood’s excesses and vices, but also the awe and appreciation to temper it. Some say Neil’s enthusiasm on the theme of “Moving Pictures” was insincere. I feel confident in saying that it wasn’t. If there’s one thing I now know about NPH – that I perhaps wasn’t expecting – it’s that he is full of wonder. He is not a jaded, spoiled star. Wonderment pops up over and over in his book, along with grit and zest and friendship and love.

To sum up, it’s a good read, and it made the Oscars more fun to watch.

{Hey, Neil, my boon companion, if you’re reading this, I’m ready with my code word. Let’s go get a taco. We can even bring the kids.}

And to oblige those (all three) of you who are going, “Hey, Dilovely, where are the extra Oscars??”, here are my humble picks, ridiculously late:

  • Best dress: Lupita Nyong’o. It’s kind of a cliché to say it, now that the dress has been dramatically stolen and recovered, but it was the dress that made me say “Wow.”

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  • Best Worst dress: Jennifer Lopez. Not that the dress was that bad, but I’m of the opinion that people should never match their gown to their skin. Then it just looks like nudity gone horribly wrong. BUT, the inside-boob V-neck did help me glean whose cleavage was affixed to my own chest.

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  • Best Suit: the midnight blue velvet one. On Neil, of course.

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  • Best Fountain of Youth: Wes Anderson. Seriously, that guy looks like he’s 20. How can he have been making award-winning movies for almost two decades?
  • Best Worst Song: “Everything Is Awesome,” from the Lego Movie. It’s a very fun song, but compare it to a ballad written by a father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to say goodbye to his family, and then compare it to “Glory,” the winning song from Selma, and… it just looks pretty dumb.
  • Best Sport(s): John Travolta and Idina Menzel. This year, she got to ridiculously mispronounce his name, and he got to pronounce hers right. It was cute.
  • Best Speech: that’s a tough one. Patricia Arquette scoring feminist points, J.K. Simmons crediting his wife with everything, Graham Moore encouraging troubled teens to “stay weird, stay different,” or Eddie Redmayne being adorably overwhelmed? So hard to choose.

So there you have it, folks. Congrats to all, hope you enjoyed the show, g’night!

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Bonus video: One of the best opening numbers ever.

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2 thoughts on “Neil Patrick Harris: Autobiography vs. Oscar Gig

  1. emerge says:

    It’s so late night, all i can say is:

    Crazy Random Happenstance! “breathtakingly inappropriate.” The union will never recover from that vulgar, high and mighty…

    Keep your head up, billy buddy!

    And OMG it DID take a lot of balls to wear that dress! It factually exactly did. Plus imagine any oscar host spending the whole night being all serious and suicide-respectful – ?! imagine how that person would be ripped to shreds. I mean geez lloyd (ok, that one was not an NPH reference. Like I said, it’s late.)

    A hero doesn’t care if we’re a bunch of scary alcoholic bums. Owls stamped on the sides.

  2. emerge says:

    p.s. I don’t know what happened to Lupita’s dress, but it is pretty. You are way hipper than I. I have done no oscars research since the night of. But I did see that video of Brad Pitt teaching all of Hollywood to say Oyelowo’s name. (oh yeah, and speaking of whom, I have an interview with him from the BBC which y’all should hear if you do see Selma. Which was good. Apparently he went all Daniel-Day-Lewis and his wife had to live with MLK for 3 months.)

    I don’t know if I believe he flubbed Chiwetel’s name intentionally. Or anyone’s. i mean, the box list was magicked into being post-fact. But man alive i don’t think anyone is going to be smooth as butter when hosting the oscars. he could have done some more research (hello oyelowo) but even if so, he did a better job than most schmos would have. i love him for being not perfect.

    FTR, i was not a doogie fan either, but i loved his Doogie Old Spice commercial a million. And I was not in love with Barney, and I like him better with his clothes on, but he is irresistible for other reasons. I think I probably came to love him on Ellen. Around the time of Dr. H. He laughed his Evil laugh. And there was no going back.

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