The 12 Worst Neil Patrick Harris Jokes from Oscar Night 2015
One of the greatest performances I’ve seen in my entire life was when I went to see Neil Patrick Harris’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway (he stripped down to his undies for that one too). From his scripted, but natural-feeling crowd work, to his charismatic command of all aspects in the production, talent and charisma is all we’ve come to expect from Neil Patrick Harris.
So maybe that’s why last night was so disappointing.
He was amazing in Doctor Horrible, hilarious as Barney Stinson and nails everything every chance he gets. So why did last night go so awry? His jokes were met by either silence or minimal laughter the whole time.
It may be because everyone on Twitter was being a lot funnier than he was, or maybe it was because his jokes seemed to have little to no effort put into their writing, coupled with a delivery that almost showed that he really didn’t want to telling these jokes to begin with. But the jokes and delivery were just not the kind of fun, care free greatness that we’ve come to know him for.
It’s like the jokes in the real broadcast were ad lib placeholders for the rehearsal that were never meant to see the light of day.
Anyway, here some groaners from last night. (I’m sorry NPH I love you.)
“He’s the real deal, pants down. Hands down! Did I say pants? I meant pants.”
(When introducing Channing Tatum)
“This next presenter is so lovely, you could eat her up witherspoon. Reese Witherspoon!”
The cringey cherry on top of him saying that is that Witherspoon was spearheading the #AskHerMore social campaign to get people to notice something other than women’s looks on the red carpet.
When he asked David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to finish the punchline making fun of 2014’s Annie remake, starring a primarily black cast.
Even Oyelowo cringed after that one. This was something that they may not have thought of ahead of time. It’s like they didn’t even know that David Oyelowo was black before they planned it. Then NPH bravely got up there, got through it and we all moved past it as a team.
“Some of the movie titles this year confused me. Like How to Train Your Dragon 2. That title basically admits that the first film did an insufficient job of helping people train their dragons. Just saying.”
If you have to do damage control after a joke with “just saying,” then whatever it is you were saying clearly didn’t need to be said.
When he yelled “No Snacks!” at Octavia Spencer and her eyes went all big in disbelief.
When Neil Patrick Harris asked Octavia Spencer, as a recurring joke, to watch after his box of Oscar prediction envelopes, he made the joke that she couldn’t take her eyes off of it the whole time. He then added “no snacks” which is a little awkward to say to anybody, let alone to such a well-respected woman. It almost seemed like fat or diet shaming and eeeeveryone felt it.
“The subject of Citizenfour, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.”
Another awkward jab at someone people at the awards actually kind of seemed to be celebrating.
“This year the nominated actors will receive gift bags containing $160,000 worth of merchandise, including two vacations, makeup, clothes, shoes and an armored-car ride to safety when the revolution comes.”
There isn’t even really a joke there.
“If you’re at an Oscar party with the people from The Lego Movie [controversially overloked in the Best Animated Feature Film category], now might be the best time to distract them.”
I actually liked this joke because bringing up the most blatant nomination snub of the awards show was great, but the audience wasn’t with him enough during the show for that one to feel okay at the time.
“We worked together last year in Gone Girl, originally titled Bitches Be Trippin’, Yo.”
This was Twitter-funny.
“There it is, American Sniper with Bradley Cooper. The most prolific sniper in history, with over 160 confirmed kills. Or, as Harvey Weinstein calls it, a slow morning.”
I don’t know if I even understand the intent behind this one.
“They have grossed over $600 million. American Sniper alone is responsible for $300 million of that. To put that into perspective, on this side of the theatre is the seven other nominees. And American Sniper is Oprah… ‘Cause you’re rich.”
(When talking about how the Best Picture nominees didn’t gross as much as previous years.)
The fact that he had to explain the joke to Oprah, and that the joke itself was worded a bit unclearly really put a good concept in a bad place. This was one of the first groaners of the night.
The Entire Box Gag
Set up early in the show, the joke was that Neil Patrick Harris’s Oscar predictions are amazing. And since he’s a magician, why not do a magic trick for the audience? It’ll show diversity, right?
During the setup for the bit he made that super awkward “no snacks!” comment at Octavia Spencer, then proceeded to put her “in charge” of the box to make sure nobody had tampered with it.
The payoff was that moments from the night were written on a piece of paper. Everything from Patricia Arquette’s awesome feminist speech, to John Travolta’s face touching. Which, okay, that’s kind of fun, but given that these are all events that just happened, there really wasn’t a big payoff for the audience at home (who was bombarded with these events around the web as they watched) or the attending audience, who was probably more confused than anything else.
But hey, maybe next time they’ll get some writers for the show.
All it really did was add a recurring bit where he would periodically check in with a befuddled Octavia Spencer, with whom he has no chemistry,
Honorable Mention: Sean Penn’s green card joke