Hosting the Oscars may be a hell of a career achievement, but it’s also a tough gig. If you’re too nice, you come off like a kiss-ass. If you’re too mean, you risk alienating people who could give you work. Most dauntingly, you’re entertaining not just a whole auditorium of fellow entertainers, but also the 30-million-or-so viewers watching from home—an audience that the producers often assume need to be coddled with lowest-common-denominator humor. Bad jokes are hard to sell, no matter how funny or charismatic you are.
If there’s anyone right now who can attest to the difficulty of playing master of Oscar ceremonies, it’s Neil Patrick Harris. Consensus seems to be that the multi-hyphenate bombed as host last month—his charm curdling into smarm, his running gags falling flat, his timing sometimes painfully off. Then again, he could have done much, much worse. Imagine, for example, if he just froze up on stage, unable to say anything. As reported by Laughing Squid, editor Bill Smith has done the imagining for you by removing all spoken words from footage of the ceremony. The result plays like either a colossal case of stage fright or cringe-comedy performance art, with Smith cutting back-and-forth between Harris’ dead air and the priceless, recontextualized reaction shots of the audience. In all honesty, it’s much funnier than the star’s actual routine. We almost wish he had actually kept his mouth shut, for some treason.