Neil Pa­trick Harris hosts four shows in Mon­treal

Say it’s his favourite city in Canada


Neil Pa­trick Harris has run off with the cir­cus.

Or at least his “Cir­cus Awe­someus.” The ubiq­ui­tous awards show host and for­mer “How I Met Your Mother” star head­lined Mon­day and will tonight at Mon­treal’s Place des Arts, and will be host­ing four shows as clos­ing galas to the 33rd an­nual Just For Laughs com­edy fes­ti­val.

Harris loves Mon­treal, say­ing, “it’s easily my favourite city in Canada.” He’s shot two movies there: “Beastly,” with Vanessa Hud­gens, and “Smurfs 2.”

These shows aren’t all com­edy, as Harris points out. He was in­vited to hand­pick the acts and booked sword-swal­low­ers, ma­gi­cians and pup­pets as well as co­me­di­ans and mu­si­cians.

“I’m very pleased to be do­ing a show that is comedic, yes, but it’s tan­gen­tial to it, be­cause I in­ten­tion­ally wanted to have some­thing that was more va­ri­ety based,” he said.

“It’s a phys­i­cal palate cleanser to con­stant com­edy.”

Makes sense com­ing from Harris, a multi-faceted per­former who can sing and dance on Broad­way as well as per­form magic tricks in clubs.

His com­ments come the morn­ing af­ter his first night at Just For Laughs. The fes­ti­val packs dozens of shows at var­i­ous venues through­out the city. Harris was “as­ton­ished that there were shows hap­pen­ing at 11:59.”

He found out that the af­ter par­ties - where he ran into Howie Man­del, Norm Mac­don­ald, Jeff Ross and James Cor­den’s “Late, Late Show” band­leader Reg­gie Watts - can go on un­til 4 a.m.

The 42-year-old mar­vels at how the stand-up co­me­di­ans adapt to rooms lit­tle and big and crowds re­cep­tive and in­dif­fer­ent.

“I would be on tilt the whole time,” he says, us­ing a poker ex­pres­sion. “I’d be very in­se­cure - I travel with a Teleprompter.”

He sees these Mon­treal shows as a some­thing of a dry run for his up­com­ing NBC/CTV se­ries, “Best Time Ever with Neil Pa­trick Harris,” pre­mier­ing Sept. 15.

“I’ve never been more le­git­i­mately ex­cited about any type of show be­fore,” he says.

To de­scribe the se­ries as a va­ri­ety show does not con­vey the genre-bust­ing new­ness of the con­cept. It’s closely based on the pop­u­lar U.K. se­ries “Ant and Dec’s Satur­day Night Take­away.” Check out the orig­i­nal, Harris urges. “It’s very YouTube-able.” Like the Bri­tish se­ries, “Best Time Ever” will be live, a for­mat the awards show host han­dles with ease. It will be shot in New York, where Harris lives with hus­band David Burtka and their four-year-old twins.

He de­scribes it as “like seven or eight dif­fer­ent types of shows all hap­pen­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously.” There’s a spe­cial celebrity guest an­nouncer each week. There are pre-taped seg­ments with a cast of reg­u­lars. There are mu­sic seg­ments. There are seg­ments that are game-show based.

“It’s a cav­al­cade of mad­ness,” says Harris.


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