Even the most devoted fans of Neil Patrick Harris agreed that the 87th Annual Academy Awards wasn’t exactly his finest hour…or four. The ever-grinning song and dance man stumbled through the decidedly cynical terrain with poorly written gags and awkward audience encounters, surprising America by just how out of place he truly seemed to feel. But that doesn’t mean we’re calling time of death on ol’ NPH’s showbiz career just yet. Fickle, judgmental, and thin-skinned though the industry may be, Harris has amounted too much good will to render himself undone by a single lackluster performance (even if it was on the biggest night of the movie world’s calendar).
Harris is indubitably funny when he’s got a fitting venue, and his latest collaboration with Funny or Die is proof enough of this certainty. In fact, the sketch shows off all the ways that Oscar hosting falls short of allowing talents like NPH to shine their brightest and truest colors. Believe it or not, a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed skit parodying obsessive fandom is far closer to Harris’ wheelhouse than the Academy Awards seemed to be. The video lets Harris play his comedy with nuance, offers him game participants, and — most importantly — is weird.
That’s the trouble with the Oscars; instead of blossoming through the talents of its hired hosts, it aims to rein them in to do its bidding. Harris, a gleeful jokester with a dorky sensibility, a small-scale panache, and a penchant for the eccentric could thrive in any environment open to these characteristics.
Here, we have Harris going totally bananas over the application of incorrect terminologies and assessments to his favorite television series, Thomas & Friends. He divulges the tireless brainpower he has enlisted toward watching the series over and over in the interest of developing a fandom and knowledge of the utmost supremacy, the sketch doubling as a good-natured slight at all purpose TV series devotees. (Trekkies will spring to mind first, thanks largely to Harris’ dubbing of himself as a “Tankie.”)
He screams at his diminutive screen partners, devolves into mania and madness, and spouts tirades about the esoteric tidbits of Thomas the Tank knowledge. And it’s all rather funny.
Sure, nobody believed that NPH was down for the count after that Oscar show, but the world didn’t cut him much slack for the job either. But if this Funny or Die video is a reminder of anything (other than Thomas & Friends trivia), it’s that Harris is a great and affable comic. He just requires a world wanting of his strange and subtle brand of humor, not one desperate to stifle it.
Images: Funny or Die (2)