It’s always a treat when Andy Samberg is in the news: Not just because he’s a witty comedian who makes us laugh, but because it also means there’s a chance we may get to see Joanna Newsom, the absurdly talented harpist and notoriously recluse musician who is also his wife. During the series finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine last week, Newsom made an unexpected cameo that marked her first acting performance in five years.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine wrapped up its eighth and final season last Thursday with a special two-part episode. Without giving anything away for those who haven’t seen it yet, Newsom appears for a brief gag as “Caroline St. Jacques Renard, the associate principal cellist for the Berlin Philharmonic.” She quite literally steps out of a tiny closet-esque compartment with a cello in hand while dressed in a formal outfit.
Obviously, the classical music aficionado Raymond Holt (played by Andre Braugher) immediately adores her and is shocked his fellow cops don’t even recognize her. Samberg and Newsom’s characters then hurl inside-joke insults at each other. Samberg calls Newsom “some nerd” with “a giant violin.” Newsom calls Samberg “the ugly one that made fun of my cello.” It’s a charming use of Newsom for a music-specific cameo, especially on a primetime TV sitcom. Watch it below.
Of course, Newsom is first and foremost a brilliant songwriter whose last album, Divers, came out in 2015. But she’s also been down to star in a number of films, TV shows, and music videos over the years, often in humorous ways that imply she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her very first acting credit was as the mother in MGMT’s 2008 music video for “Kids,” and her most recent role was an over-the-top performance as “Stream Punk Doctor” in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping in 2016. She’s also popped up in Portlandia and Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 feature film Inherent Vice.
Newsom is apparently quite helpful behind the scenes for movies, too. During an interview with Consequence, Samberg revealed she also saved his 2020 movie Palm Springs by unofficially standing in as a music supervisor and suggesting the film’s key closing credits song.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to touring, Newsom put together another one of her iconic tours, where she performed solo in a handful of cities. These days, it looks like we won’t get much else from Newsom anytime soon, be it live shows or new music. Besides, it sounds like she has her hands full as a grill master while teaching her four-year-old daughter how to use her baby-sized harp.