As I watch the Oscars, with the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris hosting, I can’t help but wonder about the power of humour to both build up and break down a thing or person. While I can’t help but chuckle at NPH’s digs on the performances that didn’t quite impress over the past year, I also wonder if he is stepping on too many toes.
NPH’s ability to balance his jokes at the expense of other people with other types of humour, including self-deprecating humour, makes him an ultimately lovable person despite the icy reception of some of his jokes on Oscar night. I think that’s the key though, NPH doesn’t just criticize others, he also puts himself in vulnerable positions and is open to critique on a regular basis.
He certainly runs the risk of losing some friends in Hollywood if he pushes too far tonight, but also makes it very clear what his opinions and his priorities are by making jokes such as these, which allows him to be a leader in the artistic community. That’s the beauty of humour, those who make jokes are taking a huge risk every time they open their mouths to share something they think is funny. Each joke is a hugely vulnerable moment of revelation in which you can be harshly judged or happily embraced.
It is easy to follow someone that would lead with such transparency, especially given NPH’s wonderful reputation even outside of his acting and humour. If he did not have this reputation, it might be a little harder to accept the harsh jokes of his Oscar performance, but he has set himself up to be well-received by showing a great deal of integrity in his art and in the parts of his life that are open to the public eye.
If you are the type of person that is always ready with a great joke, just make sure you’re striking the same lovable balance and great reputation that Neil Patrick Harris has managed to achieve.