Josh Brolin and Ariana Grande Hit a High Note on 'SNL'

March 9, 2024

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 10, 2024


In his third outing, Josh Brolin was an affable and excellent guest host, going clothing-optional for the sake of comedy. Ariana Grande was similarly spirited, both in her well-staged musical performances and a couple of sketches. Here’s everything that happened on one of SNL’s strongest episodes of the season.

The Cold Open

A CNN broadcast recapped President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. Mikey Day played a fiery Biden and dealt with a brief bit of heckling from Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was played by Heidi Gardner. There was a lot of anticipation about how the show would deal with the Republican response to the SOTU by Alabama Junior Senator Katie Britt, with some wondering who might star in such a custom-made-for-SNL news parody. The show didn't disappoint, bringing in Scarlett Johansson, whose parody of Britt was very funny and well-written, but somehow less absurdly maniacal and bizarre than the source material.

The Monologue

Dune: Part Two star Josh Brolin returned to SNL for the first time in 12 years, and recounted things that occurred for him and in pop culture in that time. Brolin made fun of his infamous poem about Dune co-star Timothée Chalamet and then read a similar one he wrote for Kenan Thompson, who was creeped out by the gesture. Most absurdly and memorably, Brolin stripped down to jockey shorts and socks and cold plunged into a tub of ice water, which was quite a bold stunt.

Kinky Victims

A Chase Bank robbery got weird when a creepy couple, played by Brolin and Heidi Gardner, were extremely eager to be violated sexually by the team of thieves. This got increasingly strange and was the second time we saw Brolin shirtless in 10 minutes. Kudos to all involved here. Good job, Josh Brolin’s bare chest.

Ad Astra in the Sky

A very amusing remote music video of sorts, this bit centred on a narrative about people who watch other passenger's in-flight movies, like Ad Astra, when their own devices run outta juice. Nice work here by Andrew Dismukes and Brolin.

People Pleasers' Support Group

Heidi Gardner played the leader of a support group for people who suffered from an affliction where they agreed with anything anyone else says. This was rolling along nicely when Ariana Grande walked in late as Sarafina, who role-played with Bowen Yang’s overly agreeable support group member. A nice bit of observational comedy that translated well into an ensemble sketch.

Wine & Cheese

A gathering of friends were enjoying a wine and cheese when a cat named Tiger made good friends with Brolin’s Chris, who was happy to revel in his own "good energy." As Tiger mingled away from Chris, Chris got very upset, eventually really losing it and ranting about farts before he pulled a knife during a heated argument. A nice, funny bit of chaos.

Shrimp Tower

At a late 19th century ball, Brolin played Count Kinski, who was obsessed with the very tall tower of shrimp cocktails he’d constructed. His intense protection of the tower led him to physically assault a love interest (played by Sarah Sherman) multiple times, after she came vaguely close to bumping into it. Quite an elaborate remote for such a silly idea but it worked.


Ego Nwodim played a daytime talk show host named Shonda who introduced us to a jilted and suspicious woman named Jasmine, played by Heidi Gardner. The object of her and the studio audience’s scorn was Brolin's Jerry, who was wheelchair-bound and sported a neck brace. A random bit of comedic conflict that was okay.

Ariana Grande

On a living room stage set, Grande and her band performed the upbeat pop song, "we can’t be friends (wait for your love)," which was custom built for mainstream radio airplay.

With the stage elaborately designed to resemble a field at sunset, Grande led her band through the even tempo of "imperfect for you," which was dynamic enough and was aided by the green screen turning dusk into a night full of fireflies and shooting stars. It looked fake but sort of cool.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost began by praising President Joe Biden’s SOTU and mocking Lindsay Graham, with a good little jab at Kamala Harris too. Jost also mocked Donald Trump's inability to speak, and then Michael Che had a rough go at a play on racism. Jost had a great time mocking Senator Britt, and Che made a funny MLK/Ozempic joke.

Che, overcompensating, laughed way too hard at a clumsy joke he told about Mike Tyson and Netflix, and garnered groans for a couple of Rupert Murdoch jokes. Not sure why Che struggled so much this week (he seemed a tad rattled), but at least an otherwise strong Update, which started much later into the show than usual, was also mercifully short for Che too.

Movie Musical Masterpieces

Mikey Day played PBS host Ken Burnt and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the film Moulin Rouge and its lost musical performances. Grande and Bowen Yang sang these copyright-concerning medleys, which were ridiculous and caused them to crack up a few times.

Sandwich King

At an office gathering, the Sandwich King, Tommy, had trouble accepting that his usual sub sandwich customers ordered pizza instead. Brolin played Tommy who, processing the loss of business, would go into sad stupors as Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" played in the background. This was fine, but also the evening’s biggest clunker to this point.

Lisa at the Table 

Ego Nwodim’s popular restaurant table-shaker Lisa returned, this time angry at the cheque when it arrived. When Lisa wasn’t furiously trying to erase the bill’s contents, she was furiously pumping hand soap that violently shook the table, causing food and drink to splash and slide around. Bowen Yang broke hard and Brolin was on the verge but kept it together to bring this riotous thing — a mix of physical and prop comedy — home.

Latest Coverage