RSS
Neil Patrick Harris: Still the best awards show host?
The consummate emcee presides over the Tony Awards for the third time, earning loads of cheers for his razzle dazzle — as well as a smattering of boos
The reliably charming Neil Patrick Harris cracked at Sunday night's Tony Awards that the theater-honoring organization represents "50 shades of gay."
The reliably charming Neil Patrick Harris cracked at Sunday night's Tony Awards that the theater-honoring organization represents "50 shades of gay."
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
E

mmy-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted Sunday night's Tony Awards, has served as the amiable emcee for the Emmys, the TV Land Awards, the Spike Video Game Awards, and two previous Tony ceremonies. And Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times, for one, finds the How I Met Your Mother star unfailingly engaging and entertaining: "Why can't Neil Patrick Harris host everything?" During Sunday night's show, at which the musical Once bagged eight awards, Harris led a star-studded opening number featuring actress Amanda Seyfried and Broadway diva Patti LuPone (watch it below), quipped that the Tonys are "50 shades of gay," and closed with a recap song that was written during the ceremony. Did Harris live up to his reputation as the awards-show host to beat?

He's simply the best: Harris is a "preternaturally talented performer" who brings an appealing "everyman humility" to his hosting duties, says McNamara. From that smash opening number, in which he mused that life would be better if it were more like theater, to the closing recap song, Harris relentlessly entertained the audience. All arguments would be settled in minutes "if Harris simply stood on a stage and belted out a smart and revealing song about them." He should host everything — from each year's Tony ceremony to "each year's first joint session of Congress."
"Tony's review: Why can't Neil Patrick Harris host everything?"

Harris was good… but he's been better: Harris made a knowing crack about wearing out his welcome as a three-time Tony host, joking that "just like with movie sequels, the third one's where you start seeing quality," says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. Harris was half right — this wasn't his finest hosting turn. The opening and closing numbers were spectacular, but otherwise, the jokes often fell flat. "It's tough when you have to live up to yourself." Perhaps a change of venue could get Harris to up his game. Oscars, anyone?
"Best and Worst of the 2012 Tony Awards"

He was actually quite disappointing: This year's Tonys had a "strange energy," says Michael Alan Connelly at New York, and "didn't feel quite as snappy as last year." Harris' opening number seemed under-rehearsed, and his jokes — inventing musical-movie mashups like Field of Dreamgirls, for example — were surprisingly half-baked. Even the closing recap number "was a pale imitation of last year's rap." Really, the only zinger that landed was his "50 shades of gay" remark.
"Tonys in review: A big year for small shows"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week