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On 'SNL,' Scarlett Johansson satirizes Katie Britt and Josh Brolin recites poetry

Josh Brolin, the "Avengers: Endgame" actor riding high (on a worm, even!) on the success of his latest film "Dune 2," proved a reliable "Saturday Night Live" host for the third time. Is he the most dynamic guest host ever to appear on the show? No. Is he the funniest? No, but he's clearly got a great sense of humor and a willingness to shed his vanity that goes a long way on a sketch show.

In this outing, Brolin shed more than his vanity: in his monologue, he stripped down to his underwear and took a dip in an ice-filled tub to demonstrate his willingness to "embrace the discomfort."

But it's likely a lot of people tuned in to the start of the show to see what "SNL" would do with the Republican Party response to this week's State of the Union address. Before it had even concluded, social-media users speculated that "Saturday Night Live" would have plenty of fodder for a cold open from Alabama junior Sen. Katie Britt's kitchen-set speech. The only question was who would play her: It turns out the role went to Scarlett Johansson, who made a feast out of Britt's actorly line readings and her dramatic hand gestures.

Brolin's parts on the show included a Viennese aristocrat obsessed with a shrimp tower (more on that below), a husband who tries to include bank robbers in the sexual escapades of his newly open marriage, and an airplane passenger watching "Ad Astra" who gets sucked into a song. He also played a member of a people pleasers' support group, a man who gets fixated on a cat at a wine and cheese party, a sad sub sandwich maker who is losing his office customers, a man in a wheelchair on a daytime talk show who is accused of cheating, and a dinner companion of Lisa from Temecula (Ego Nwodim).

Musical guest Ariana Grande appeared in two sketches and performed "We Can't Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)" and "Imperfect for You," which was introduced by her mother, Joan Grande. Notably, the singer didn't perform her latest single, "Yes, And?" which has received some online backlash.

To no one's surprise, "SNL" drilled in on Britt’s State of the Union response speech, which in only two days has been memed and parodied across TikTok and other social platforms. The cold open didn't start with her, but instead allowed Mikey Day a few laps as President Biden, dunking on the speaker of the House ("Mike Johnson shakes his head like he caught 30 seconds of the show 'Euphoria.' ") and pointing out that he should cede his time to Britt. "I think she's gonna help me more than anything I can say here," Biden says.

As Britt, Johansson was spot-on in her vocal fry and hand-acting the senator's mannerisms, saying, "I'll be auditioning for the part of Scary Mom," and referring to herself as "The craziest bitch in the Target parking lot." The show referenced the "strange empty kitchen" where Britt delivered her response, saying, "Republicans want me to appeal to women voters and women love kitchen." The bad grammar was intentional. The "SNL" version of Britt pointed out that her shocking, left-turn story about sex trafficking was delivered out of context: "Everything about it is real except the year, where it took place and who was president when it happened," Britt says. She also hawks jewelry, QVC-style in the bit, and decides she's going to talk in a way that is "strangely seductive for no apparent reason." Stirring tea led to a cutaway to a "Get Out" reference and concluded with the line: "This isn't the last you'll see of Katie Britt. Maybe not in politics, but when you close your eyes, I'll be right there."

In his monologue, Brolin pointed out that the fortunes of musical guests he's been paired with have diverged quite a bit. The first, in 2008, was Adele before she was a gigantic superstar. The other was Gotye, who Brolin joked is now "someone I used to know." Brolin made hay of the teasing he's gotten for writing a very strange poem about his "Dune" costar Timothée Chalamet. He said he wrote a new poem while working this week with Kenan Thompson. The poem refers to Thompson's "sultry eyes" and "sugar cookie cheeks" leading Brolin's feelings toward a "symphony of desire to which I can only say … what up with that?" Brolin then took off his shirt and pants and dunked into his cold-plunge tub crying, "I am inevitable!"

Best sketch of the night: A man must protect his shrimp tower

The strangest sketch of the night was also the funniest: In a pre-taped piece that took place in 1893 Vienna, an aristocrat named Kinski has built an enormous, 20-foot-tall shrimp cocktail tower. Shrimp, he says, are the thinking man's mozzarella sticks. Kinski is also wooing an archduchess (Sarah Sherman) and hoping for her hand in marriage. But whenever she gets near the tower, threatening to make it collapse, he pushes her out of a window and does whatever he can to protect the shrimp masterpiece. The archduchess admires his protective instinct, but she can't save him, or the tower, from their inevitable fate.

Also good: Bonus songs we missed in 'Moulin Rouge'

On a PBS show about movies, host Ken Burnt (Day) explains that the Baz Luhrmann movie "Moulin Rouge" left a lot of songs on the cutting-room floor that were filmed in case the rights weren't secured for its multi-song medleys. Grande and Bowen Yang take on the Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman roles and sing the heck out of songs including TLC's "Creep," U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)," Jennifer Lopez's "Waiting for Tonight" and Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and multiple instances of "Happy Birthday," because that's an easy song to get the rights for. Consider this sketch a preview of Grande, who will inevitably guest host "SNL" in November when her movie "Wicked" comes out.

'Weekend Update' winner: More on Katie Britt, of course

There were no guest bits on "Weekend Update" this week, but there was plenty for Colin Jost and Michael Che to work with between the State of the Union speech and response, Netflix's upcoming Mike Tyson fight and the cancellation of the merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines. But if Jost's wife playing Britt in the cold open wasn't enough, the "Update" co-host had a few more jokes, mocking the senator's whispery delivery and saying it's part of a new one-woman play called "A Britt Much." But the line that got the biggest response was about another senator: After showing a photo of Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who is retiring, in an orange dress with a big turquoise necklace, Che said she "looks like all the Flintstones at once."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.