Desus Nice and The Kid Mero are spending their summer hiatus in Los Angeles, but their Bronx habits are hard to break. “Like dummies, we’ve been walking everywhere,” Desus says during this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast. “Cars are looking at us like, ‘Is that Desus and Mero? Are they poor now? Did they lose their show?’”
Thankfully, they did not lose their show. In fact, Desus & Mero seems to be going stronger than ever on Showtime, expanding from once a week to twice a week three months into its initial run this past spring.
We’re talking just a few days after they taped their last show before the break, a whirlwind of an episode that found them squaring off against another famous duo: CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. One commenter suggested the four of them should do their own version of The View.
“I’m not mad at that, I’d watch that,” Desus says. “I’ll be the Meghan McCain.”
“I’ll be Whoopi,” Mero adds with a laugh.
Like The View, Desus & Mero has become an unlikely platform for politicians and presidential candidates to show off sides of their personalities that are harder to convey in more traditional settings. After hosting fellow Bronx native Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on their February premiere, they have conducted unconventional interviews with Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg. More 2020 hopefuls are scheduled for the fall.
“But Bill de Blasio is not one of them,” Desus clarifies, as Mero shakes his head and adds, “The Red Sox fandom.”
“He tweeted out, ‘Congrats to the World Champion Boston Red Sox.’ He tweeted that out from the mayor of New York Twitter account,” Desus says. “Have you lost your mind, Bill de Blasio, you groundhog killer?!”
Why they left Viceland for Showtime
Desus: “It wasn’t so much that we left, it was that the contract was up.”
Mero: “It’s like sports. Free agency! You have suitors, people are giving you offers and then you sit down with your team and discuss what’s the best fit for us, what’s the best fit content-wise, what do we want to do that we will be allowed to do.”
Desus: “And also which deal will allow us to work on other stuff because we have the live tour, we have the podcast, we have a book coming out next year, so it was very important to put ourselves in a situation where we have time to do other things. And Showtime definitely offered that. The [other] difference between Vice and Showtime was we could only say the ‘f-word’ five times on Viceland. Showtime was like, ‘Yo, you want to show nipples? Do whatever you want!’”
Mero: “‘You want to pull your balls out in the middle of the show? Go for it!’”
Why they mostly avoid telling jokes about Donald Trump—unlike other late-night hosts
Desus: “It’s not really funny anymore. The damage being done to this democracy is going to be so long lasting that it’s not funny. There are certain things you just can’t joke about. Oh, he’s locking babies up, hahaha.”
Mero: “People will find a way in, that they think is a way in, and then everybody will use that same way in.”
Desus: “It’s like you’re required to do Trump. We’ve talked to other late-night hosts who are like, ‘Fam, Trump every night, you’ve got to do at least one Trump joke.’ And I remember, when he became president we were at Viceland and I was like, ‘I think we’re covering Trump too much. And we purposely tried to pull back but he just kept doing such weird stuff.”
Mero: “At first it was like novelty. Like, this is nuts, is he really doing this? And we were bringing levity to it. But now it’s gotten so serious.”
Desus: “There’s a sense of hopelessness in the American public now. Before, people were coming to our show and we were like, ‘Look what he’s doing!’ And now people are coming to our show for an escape. For half an hour, please take my mind off the dumpster fire that is America.”
What it means to have fellow Bronx native AOC in Congress
Desus: “She reminds me of what we’re doing to late-night. She’s in there shaking the table, challenging a system that already exists, challenging the established rules. She’s disrupting government. And you can see that it’s making some people uncomfortable. There’s pushback that she has to follow the rules, be respectable. And it’s kind of similar to the feedback we get about our show: ‘Don’t do this, don’t say the n-word.’ And it’s like, yo, this is the future. This is the change that’s going to happen so you can either get with it or get left behind. That’s her. She’s always been that same outgoing, very gritty, very Bronx, ‘I’m not taking no shit’ personality. And I just love to see that.”
On the ‘blowback’ to their segment with Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Desus: “People were like, he looked uncomfortable being around two people of color. No, we took him to a neighborhood he’s not familiar with, he doesn’t really know us.”
Mero: “He’s from South Bend, Indiana and we took him to Dyckman uptown.”
Desus: “We’re walking through a park with very little security. And we’re super comfortable. We know the rules and stuff. But also, he has to be careful, he’s running for president. But he was a good sport about everything. We got a little blowback online because people said he was pandering to the black vote by drinking 40s in the park. First of all, that comment is so racist, because we weren’t drinking 40s. [They were drinking a bottle of scotch covered in a paper bag.] And also the idea that black people are monolithic and we’re going to vote for someone just because he drank a 40? ‘Mayor Pete’s invited to the cookout!’ No, that’s not how black people vote.”
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Stand-up comedian and host of Comedy Central’s Good Talk, Anthony Jeselnik.