"I'm sure she was nervous," he told the Television Critics Association on Friday. OK, the "Kidding" star was kidding.
In reality, Carrey cops to some anxiety about performing with Grande, who guest-stars in the comedy's second season about a Mister Rogers-style children's show host crumbling because of personal tragedy (season premiere Nov. 3, 10 EST/PST).
"I did think about that," he says, recalling the episode. "Tomorrow, I'm going to to croak out some … song beside a world class songstress," he said.
Grande expressed her joy at being on the show and working with Carrey in an Instagram post this week that has received more than 5 million likes. (In April, Grande was moved emotionally when Carrey sent her a heartful message after she shared his depression quote.)
"Thankful for the most special experience of my life. nothing is crazier than getting to work and spend time with someone whom you've idolized and adored before you could speak," Grande wrote this week. "What's even crazier is discovering that person to be more special and warm and generous in person than you ever could've imagined."
Carrey returns the praise.
"She's a singular artist. She has a gift. She has a thing that she does that's like magic when she opens her mouth and sings," he says. "It's nice to find out she's a lovely person and she is so game and willing to do it and put herself in a place of just being silly and innocent and fun. And she was just a breath of fresh air. It was a lovely time."
Executive producer Dave Holstein is mum about details of Grande's episode, what character she'll play – or whether she will play herself.
"I can tell you very little about her role just yet, but I can say that she is lovely and she sings and there’s nothing more heartbreaking and beautiful than standing 10 feet away from Ariana Grande singing a song," he says.
Holstein didn't elaborate on the role after the panel, but he says Grande's episode "breaks all the rules we have done so far."
The episode is "beautiful and emotional. If you had any celebrity step into Mister Rogers show or 'Sesame Street,' there's a certain tonality that comes into play that is real and grounded, that is a real person in a fantastical world, and beautiful things come from it," he says.
As a parting gift, Grande broke Holstein's phone – literally, if temporarily.
"She was kind enough to tag me on Instagram and I have 107 Instagram followers, which is mostly pictures of pies that I bake," he says. After Grande posted the photo with Carrey, "Every time someone 'liked' that, my phone beeped. And 4.7 million people liked it. My phone just said, 'I'm turning off.' My phone just turned off. It wouldn't come back on for 10 minutes."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jim Carrey praises Ariana Grande's guest role on Showtime's 'Kidding'