November 5, 2014

Choose Your Own Neil Patrick Harris...


Actor Neil Patrick Harris, the Emmy-winning, Tony-winning, former child star and future Oscar host, has just published his autobiography, and I whipped through it.

Choose Your Own Autobiography is a fun read, mostly because of Harris (aka NPH) himself, with his warm semi-edgy humour and charming storytelling; not sure if he wrote it with or without a ghostwriter, but it sure sounds like him.

Best known for Doogie Howser MD and How I Met Your Mother, even at the relatively young age of 40 NPH has lived a crazy busy yet somehow still sane life and has stories to tell -- of TV and movies, family and travel, anonymous sex and hash brownies.

NPH came out as a gay man about seven years ago, and while it was not a shock to those of us who assumed he -- and most every other celebrity - is gay, it was a brave act and great conversation starter;  I think it's always a good thing when famous people come out, as every person coming out helps 'normalize' gay for people who think they don't know any gay people.

The book's format, inspired by the page-jumping kids' book series Choose Your Own Adventure, which is told in second person ('you do this, then you do that'), lost its charm on me after a while, and I just read straight through. On the upside, the format makes for entertaining bite-size stories from his personal and professional lives.

NPH drops names, not in an especially malicious way, but let's just say that Kelsey Grammar, Madonna, Anne Heche, Patti LuPone and Rupert Everett will not be buying copies to give out as Christmas presents. Elton John will... if there is a version packaged as a bedazzled yacht.

His story about coming out to himself, his family, his TV audience and the world, is honest and touching. And funny... possible (funny, untrue) sources of NPH being gay are naively going back to magician Penn Jillette's apartment late one night, and or a full-on man kiss from 80s era Burt Reynolds. Okay, neither of those work for me, but who are we to judge?

Tossed in for your entertainment are recipes, magic tricks, songs, mini adventures written by friends like Kelly Ripa and Whoopi Goldberg, and a really fun chapter that is copy-edited (and fact checked) by his husband.

The book reads like Harris is sitting around telling stories from his life to his pals, and it works. And then it gets really sweet as it wraps up with a love letter to his kids and husband David Burtka.

Like this guy, and like this book... put Choose Your Own Autobiography on your fall reading list.