Neil Patrick Harris suits up for San Francisco Sketchfest


From The San Francisco Examiner

January 20, 2011
By Robert Sokol

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Neil Patrick Harris has a habit of canceling his SF Sketchfest appearances. Well, OK, he only actually canceled one appearance last year. And it was work-related.

“Thankfully what I was doing was ‘Celebrity Autobiography,’ which was very substitutable,” he says. “So that’s what went down, with great apology on my end.”

The Emmy-winning actor is making up for it this year with three different festival appearances this weekend.

“I’m very excited about Dick Cavett-ing myself,” Harris says of one gig, “for a conversation with Brian Henson to talk all things Muppet — past, present, future. I’m a — you’ll pardon the pun — gonzo fan.”

He is a big fan of Sketchfest co-founder Janet Varney, whom he met through his partner, David Burtka.

“There are certain people that enter your life and almost immediately you know that you need to be spending much more time with them and that you are meant to be friends for a bigger purpose,” Harris says. “I felt that the moment I met Janet Varney. She’s extraordinary — one of the funnier people you’ll ever interact with, and she’s incredibly driven.”

Varney offers a very Sketchfest reply.

“Of all of the child-prodigy physicians who went on to become Broadway stars and award-winning television and film actors, happen to be amazing magicians and ridiculously kind and generous human beings whilst still managing to be sarcastic and hilarious, Neil is probably in my top five!” she says.

That list of credits does not include opening the Oscars, hosting the Emmys and the Tonys, starring in a Joss Whedon Internet musical, studio recordings, serving on the board of Hollywood’s Magic Castle, extensive voice-over work and guest judging on “American Idol.”

Harris has been with Burtka for six years, and the couple became parents of twins last year.

So what does Harris want to be when he grows up?

“Ed Sullivan. That seems to be the pinnacle. Everything on that list ends at Ed Sullivan,” he says, laughing.

“I grew up in a small New Mexico town and was drawn to the variety arts. There’s no real reason why,” Harris says. “Magic has always been my hobby and I’ve always loved circuses and live performances.

“Cut to now, and I’ve been in this business long enough to have a little perspective on it. When that happens, you are able to choose and try things because you think you might like them rather than because you think you should.”

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