“It was just looked up, and tomorrow’s episode will be Episode 90. You know what I’m saying? We’ve done 90 episodes,” Desus & Mero co-host The Kid Mero said last night, kicking off the spring run of Deadline’s AwardsLine Screening Series with a bang.
“Shout-out to my exes who said I couldn’t keep a job,” chimed in co-host Desus Nice, rapid-fire. “You feel stupid now.” (Click on the video above to see highlights of the panel.)
All things considered, the celebratory mood seemed appropriate. Within the course of a decade, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero managed to shoot up from little-known tweeters with a distinctive voice and particular take on popular culture to online phenoms. And now, with Deus & Mero, they’ve taken on television.
Bowing in October on Viceland, Desus & Mero is the second series co-hosted by the pair of sharp comedic minds—following their Complex TV web series and podcast Desus Vs. Mero—featuring a wide range of stellar guests including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes, Jerrod Carmichael, hip-hop supergroup Run The Jewels, and Shots Fired star Mack Wilds.
Following an AwardsLine screening of a recently aired episode, the creators of the late-night talk show were met with a packed house and enthusiastic response at the Landmark Theatre as they sat down for a panel moderated by Deadline’s Dominic Patten, touching on election night distress, a potential WGA strike and their favorite guests appearing on the series so far.
Their election-night special saw them coming out of the gate strong just a month after the series debut. “We don’t remember that election special, because it was live, and we were drunk as f*ck,” Nice said. “If you watch it, we just get drunker and drunker, ‘cause in my ear, they’re like ‘Yo, Donald Trump won.’ I’m like, ‘Get the f*ck out of here.’ ”
“We had the motherf*ckers talking in our ears, and they’re just saying, [muffles the microphone] ‘Trump won Michigan, Trump won Florida. Prepare for annihilation. PREPARE FOR ANNIHILATION,” Mero recalled.
Touching momentarily on the WGA unrest, the energized pair didn’t lose their steam, or express real concern.
“It’s Season 4 of The Wire, and we are Marlo,” Nice joked.
“Y’all are witnessing…This is like being in 1985, witnessing Eddie Murphy,” Mero added of the series’ performance thus far.
On a more serious note, Nice and Mero (known outside their comedic personas as Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez, respectively) spoke about the barriers to getting the late-night talk show off the ground, and what it took to break the mold in an arena bound by conventions.
“Everyone that’s in charge of staffing a late-night show picks someone that looks exactly like them. That’s what it is,” Nice explained. “It took someone at Viceland who was like, ‘Yo, let me bust out the show. Let me find something that’s resonating with people on the Internet, something that I might not completely get. Shout-out to Viceland—there’s plenty of white people at Viceland who have no idea what the f*ck we’re talking about.”
“All jokes aside, they get it—it’s like, we’re giving a show to someone who normally would not have a voice,” the comedian continued. “NBC would never give us a show, Fox would never give us a show, ABC; even Viacom. We were on MTV2. We found a channel that’s allowing us to be us, and you see the audience right here, so shout-out to them.”
Nice also discussed what he believes sets Desus & Mero apart from other predominant late-night talk shows—namely, a certain kind of informality that breeds a degree of intimacy with the audience. “I feel like ours is a deconstructive show, whereas other shows, you’re watching someone else. You’re watching Jimmy Fallon, you’re watching Stephen Colbert,” Nice said. “With our show, it’s like you’re inviting us into your living room, we’re sitting on the couch with you, and we’re watching the Internet, we’re watching the day.”
“It’s just a hangout session with your homies,” Mero added, “which is us.”