Desus & Mero are zeroing in on their 100th episode
The late night hosts on Manny Ramirez, ‘Game of Thrones,’ Twitter vs. Facebook, and ‘Sex and the City’
Before their rise to late night television notoriety, Desus Nice (Daniel Baker) and The Kid Mero (Joel Martinez) were just two music-loving Bronx, New York, natives who had a fresh podcast called Bodega Boys. They also offered comic relief to a growing social media fan base. As the duo’s popularity skyrocketed, they continued to keep it as real as the taxidermied, Timbs-and-Yankee-fitted-wearing grizzly bear that chills with them on the set of their Desus & Mero (it airs weeknights at 11 on Viceland, Vice’s joint cable venture with A&E). The duo has transitioned their witty Twitter hot takes and their funny podcast debates to the screen. And with Desus & Mero closing in on its 100th episode, the pair discusses their journey, the segments that make them laugh the hardest, the best advice they’ve received — and some of their guilty pleasures.
How do you come up with the show’s material?
Mero: It’s all improvised. Some of the stuff makes the cut, some doesn’t, but all the jokes are organic. They happen in the moment.
Desus: It’s about having a sense of humor. I think it’s from growing up in the Bronx. The Bronx is kind of messed up. You kind of have this dark comedy and these dark jokes. And they’re a little disturbing to other people, but there’s some comedy in it.
What’s your favorite part about doing the show?
Mero: Just doing a show where you get to do what you want. … There’s no chain of command like, ‘Whoa, whoa, we gotta ask seven people if it’s OK to get rid of this.’ The autonomy is really dope.
Desus: I love the fact that we do a show. I’m so used to waking up like, ‘Oh, my God, I hate my job.’ I wake up and the car pulls up, takes me to go record a show. I’ll get to crack jokes and then get fed food, paid money, and go back home.
Is there one segment that made you laugh the hardest?
Desus: Here’s how you can tell: If the camera ever resets or we start a new segment and you see in the corner of my eye, it’s soaking wet. That means I’ve literally been crying actual tears and we had to stop recording. Also, we record on the same floor as actual Viceland. Actual regular Viceland employees are trying to work on articles, and designs and stuff, so it’s been dead quiet in that office for like three years. We come, we smell like weed. It sounds like a high school, and so we always felt bad. We’re always trying to keep our voices down, and then they come over and they’re like, ‘No, we love it. It’s so cool to be on the floor with you guys.’
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Desus: It probably came from Terry Crews. We met him at a DirecTV event and, you know, those events are for ad sales and stuff, they’re completely optional. Most people don’t want to do them. But we see him there. And he was like, ‘Let me give you some advice: Enjoy it, stay in the moment. Don’t take any of this for granted, because there’s a million people who would love to be where you’re at, and the moment you start slacking up and taking this for granted, that other person will take it. So while you’re here, work on your craft. But most of all, enjoy it.’
Mero: My dad always told me, ‘You’re young now. Push yourself while you have the energy and the desire and the fire in you to really get to where you want to go. Don’t wait until you’re 40 and say, ‘I want to do this now.’ You’re young and you have the desire, go get it.’
Have you ever been starstruck?
Desus: You know what, [the] only person we ever were like, ‘Yo!‘ surprisingly was for Noreaga.
Mero: N.O.R.E’s the man. So we met him and … he was like, ‘Yo, I love y’all. Y’all are mad funny.’
Desus: What I love is, most famous people that we see, they’re just regular people. A lot of them are crazy shy. Sometimes we have the interview, they’ll be alone in a room without their handlers and they’re just terrified.
If you could be any athlete, dead or alive, who would you be?
Desus: I would be — my fellow Yankee fans, don’t kill me — Manny Ramirez. Just because he was so problematic.
Mero: He does what he wants. He made a career. He invented, ‘You do what you want when you’re popping’ before Future. He invented that. He would go into the outfield wall, eating in the dugout, doing whatever. He’s the man. He don’t care.
Desus: Either him or Marshawn Lynch.
Mero: I want to be Larry Johnson, just to feel that moment where he hit the 4-point play. Just those 10 seconds. That moment. The [Madison Square] Garden erupting. I’ve never been at the Garden when something like that happened. To experience that and be the cause of that must feel crazy.
Which pro athlete would you never want to trade places with?
Desus: I would never want to trade places with [Carmelo Anthony]. How is Melo a multimillionaire and he hates his job? You’d think that Melo works at the office.
Mero: We don’t deserve Melo. Melo is an all-time top player. One of the best scorers ever in the history of the NBA. We don’t deserve him. Because as soon as he does something wrong, we’re all on him like, ‘Yo, get him out of here. We gotta trade Melo.’ As a Knicks fan, stop. Y’all gotta stop.
Desus: If the Knicks are Carrie from Sex and the City, Melo is our Aidan, and we’re not going to appreciate him until he’s gone. Print that.
What will you always be the champion of?
Mero: Foul shooting. I’m untouchable.
Desus: I’ll always be the champion for walking an unnecessary amount of extra distance to save an inconsequential amount of money. So like say, a burger is like $2 over here, but if we walk five blocks over there, I could get it for like $1.75.
What’s your favorite social media spot?
Desus: Twitter, for now. Until they ruin it. Because Facebook is just … like two years behind. They got blurry memes, and they get the stuff we have on Twitter all late, and … people just post whatever crazy thing they read. They’re like, ‘Did you hear Ellen [DeGeneres] and Obama got married?’ I’m just like, ‘I feel like that’s not accurate. What site is that from?’
Mero: Facebook is not for us anymore. It’s for aunties.
What’s one album you think is a classic that no one else does?
Mero: For me, it’s either Fat Joe’s Represent or the Reggaeton compilation Mas Flow 2. If you put it out, every Latino in America is gonna be like, ‘Word, that’s a classic.’ But yeah. Fat Joe Represent, ’cause Fat Joe really made me hyped to be this Afro-Latino dude from the Bronx.
Desus: I probably have to go with TV On The Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain. … It was a little out there, but it’s underrated.
What’s your favorite throwback TV show?
Desus: Mine would be Small Wonder. It’s about a guy who made a robot version of his daughter. It was very cheesy, and because it was in the ’80s before special effects were readily available.
Mero: You know how when you really broke and you only got regular TV? They used to run all the Twilight Zone marathons on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For some reason, it draws me in.
What’s the last show you binge-watched?
Desus: Last weekend, I watched the whole first season of True Detective. I inadvertently got caught up. I was like, ‘All right, this is OK.’ Then four hours later …
Mero: I was a late adopter of Game of Thrones.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Mero: I read that Dwight Howard was eating like 24 candy bars a day or something like that. That gave me peace in my heart because I’m like, I only eat like 10. I’m addicted to candy. Like Snickers, Reese’s. I’ll sit down on my couch late at night, when I’m on a higher plane, and just bang out like 10 Reese’s cups in a row like no big deal.
Desus: I love a chopped cheese sandwich, but I have to be a little drunk, and it has to be like 1 o’clock in the morning, and it has to be from a specific bodega. It was like 1:20 a.m. … I had the dirty hoodie on, the Timbs with no laces, and I ordered it. I sat on a milk crate. This guy standing there, he’s like, ‘Yo, no disrespect, my brother, but don’t you have a TV show?’ I was like, ‘Nah, you got to be mistaken, Holmes. You got to be mistaken. If I had a TV show, would I be here right now? I got toothpaste on my shirt.’
What is one thing you did in the past year that you never thought you’d do?
Mero: We went to the TCAs, and basically we were responsible for how Viceland was viewed. I never thought we would be the face of something.
Desus: When we first started the show, we were getting a lot of Instagram hate, a lot of comments like, ‘This is terrible.’ How many episodes are we in now? If you had told me three years ago I would be on a late night television show, I would ask you to pass whatever it is you were smoking. Because there’s no way.