Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
I was amazed that CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY was actually about me! Well, not exactly, because I am a straight female of a somewhat older generation than the hilarious and very talented author, and I’m definitely not a famous actor, dancer, magician or awards show host. Nor do I have twins. Nor was I born in Albuquerque (though I’ve been there often and love it).
But from page one, I recognized that same stage-struck kid who, after getting my first laugh and round of applause at age eight, knew --- no, absolutely truly believed --- that I was destined to be a star. Only my life turned out more like the funny segues into what might happen if things didn’t go right, which NPH (he refers to himself by his initials to save space) kept me turning pages and laughing my way through events in his life that might have been true, or not, depending on what you want to believe or which directions you follow.
"CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is not only an informative and definitely not boring autobiography of a stage and television personality who refuses to take himself seriously, it is also an account of a man who is so glad to be Neil Patrick Harris."
CHOOSE YOUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is not only an informative and definitely not boring autobiography of a stage and television personality who refuses to take himself seriously, it is also an account of a man who is so glad to be Neil Patrick Harris.
NPH covers everything from his first foray on the stage to the role that will define and haunt him for life: Doogie Howser. While it makes his career, something for which he is very grateful, it also casts a pall on his social life. He doesn’t exactly say it turned him gay (he offers some very funny reasons for that cataclysmic event in his life), but it certainly defined and pretty much put a damper on his social life in high school and college. This all led to his total early confusion about members of the opposite sex and even those of his own gender.
This is a subject he addresses seriously in later chapters as he discusses his marriage to his life partner, David, and provides an informative and amusing description of the rigors of attaining parenthood through modern medical means for gay couples. An expensive and complicated procedure at best, it has given them the gift of twins who magically (one might say ironically) are the result of a fascinating procedure that allows both NPH and David to know which one of the twins is biologically his own child.
Interspersed throughout the book are detailed descriptions of card tricks that flew right over my head because I’m one of those people who secretly believes in magic. He adds potential outcomes to his life if he had made decisions other than the ones presented to him (most of them lethal) and several homages from fellow entertainers who have worked with him over the years. Master magician Penn Jillette, actress Whoopi Goldberg and producer Stephen Bochco, who gave him his start and continued support, are joined by several other notables who write alternating praise and jibes about him. Throw in several recipes for drinks that would put any normal person under the table at the second sip and a completely indecipherable crossword puzzle, and you have yourself a fun read.
So why did it seem like it was my autobiography? Well, that’s the magic of it. There were parts of my early childhood that resounded thoroughly, especially in the stage-struck bits. Alas, that’s where the comparisons ended as my life took a decidedly mundane but largely satisfying turn to what could be best described as a normal path. NPH’s life is anything but normal, but somehow he has survived fame, fortune and fantasy to become a stellar entertainer. We can all dream, can’t we?
Reviewed by Roz Shea on November 26, 2014