Damn, I’m parched. I know you are too. That’s why, in ELLE.com’s Thirst Trap series, we quench our thirst with the thirsted-after. What’s it’s like to be an oasis in the desert of life? Is it uncomfortable to be so famous and good-looking? Is that a LaCroix? We ask the hard questions. Drink up! You’re welcome.
It’s not that Desus Nice and The Kid Mero aren’t friendly—they’re verbal to a fault, actually, filling up the East Village’s Short Stories bar with chat. Nor would they balk at any conversational rabbit hole—their rat-a-tat rapport is the basis of new Showtime late-night spot Desus & Mero. Bodega Boys, their podcast, is all riffing and japery; finishing a 2-hour-long episode can feel like coming out the other end of the earth.
But I did make a mistake. If you know anything about Desus and Mero, you know they’re from the Bronx. “So, you guys are from Brooklyn,” I joke. We’re cushy in a blue velvet booth, cold ones on the table. Their patter slows; you can almost hear the record-scratch. Mero’s mouth falls slightly open. He looks like the Bocca della Verità.
Desus picks it back up pretty quick. “Yeah, BK all day,” he parries. I am at pains to explain that I was kidding. “Listen, I’ve heard way worse,” Mero says. “So, tell me about growing up in Queens,” he parrots, in one of the panoply of voices that make it seem like their shows have 900 hosts, not two. Then follows a classic exchange between the pair:
Desus: Yeah, we’re originally from Williamsburg, you know, eating hummus, riding a tandem bike.
Mero: Ride on a penny farthing and opened a 12 Chairs.
Desus: I was born and my mother put me in a tote bag and took me home from the hospital.
It’s a fool’s errand trying to keep up with the trickiest talkers in the game, but I tried my best.
You had AOC on the show as a guest. How are you feeling about her representing the Bronx?
Desus: Shout out to her. She’s getting a lot of shit, but she’s from the Bronx, she’s able to handle it. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to see someone from your area or from your demographic in a position of power like that.
Mero: It’s also dope because nobody has to come to her aid. She doesn’t need stans to be like, “You suck! Don’t say that about her!” Because she’ll be like, “Word? Word?” She’ll quote your tweet and make you look like a total asshole immediately. She’s got like a jillion followers.
But you guys might need some defending. You can be problematic sometimes, you’ll just say whatever.
Mero: Now we’re media trained, and I can’t just be like, “Yo, pull up, drop a pin, I’ll fuck you up.”
Desus: We don’t do any death threats, we don’t threaten the president, and we don’t threaten people from fourth grade…Tyrell.
Mero: I used to just be in the comments like, “Oh, I’ll kill you.”
You’ve been getting some other great guests, like John Legend. How’d you get him to sing about butt stuff?
Desus: That was all his idea. We were like, John Legend, could you come on here and make a fairy tale, could you make a lullaby for your two beautiful kids, and he was like, “No, I wanna sing about eating ass.” His wife was like, “Yes, John!”
Shout out to John Legend, he’s the best. We came to him with the idea. He was like, “Yo, this is wild.” If you watch the actual interview, he says at one point, “I just ruined my career.”
Mero: He was like, “I just committed career suicide on Desus & Mero. But who’s tuned in to that?”
Desus: Everyone loved it. Only John Legend could make a song about eating butt sound sensual. I just wanted to see Chrissy Teigen’s reaction when she heard it for the first time. She was probably like, “You have two kids, what the f— what are you doing?”
Mero: So what? I got four. I still eat butt.
Who are your galaxy brain guests?
Desus: The thing is, on other channels, it was kind of like, “Who would you like?” And now people are coming to us like, “I need to be on your show.”
Like, say, Hillary Clinton?
Desus: We’re going to have Hillary Clinton on there, we’re gonna do graffiti and what not. She’s gonna be like tag, Trump sucks, right on the side of the White House.
Desus: We took Anna Kendrick to the Bronx.
Mero: We took Anna Kendrick to 137th street and St. Ann. Google Maps that. It’s by Despair Avenue.
Desus: It’s just Bronx residents, and they’re like, “Is that, hmm, can’t be…why would this famous person just be on this block.” But that’s the kind of thing we’re doing, we like to take famous people and bring them into our world.
We look at some of the guests and we’re like, “No way,” and they’re like, “Yes, he wanted to do the show.”
Mero: Obama does want to go boogie boarding with you.
Desus: Let’s go. Let me show you what a presidential chest looks like.
Let’s talk about the Bodega Hive…
Desus: Shout outs to Bodega! Best fan base in the world. I have to say that, ’cause they’re gonna murder us one day.
Your fans are always asking for “the art”—more content—on your accounts. Do you have nightmares about the art emoji?
Desus: Any time we put anything on Twitter or social media, they would just drop the art emoji. So he would literally be on vacation, like, “Yo, look at my beautiful baby daughter,” and they’d be like, “Fuck your baby daughter, where’s the podcast?” But we did a live show once, and this couple came, and they had the art emoji tattooed on their wrists. First, I was thinking, “Y’all are fucking buggin’,” and then I was like, “Wow, this resonates on a much deeper level.” They met off of the podcast.
Mero: So what they’re gonna do, for their wedding vows, they’re gonna kill us, take our faces and wear our faces as masks. Super romantic.
Do you think there’s anything that you could say that would make the Hive turn against you?
Desus: Yeah. “This podcast is ten dollars a month.”
Mero: [Laughs] If we started doing ad reads in the middle, they’d be like, “Oh, this shit is bogus.” We’ve kept the same consistency and the same vibe for so long. If we made some weird left turn, it’d be super jarring for the fans.
Desus: I think the fact that we don’t have ads on the podcast, that’s very strategic. We don’t want to break the experience of the podcast. We don’t want to be riffing and then like, “By the way, buy your stamps at stamps.com. Available 3.99 a month and use special code HIGH20 to save 20 per—” But we plug items that are not sponsored.
Mero: Random shit.
Desus: We actually got Range Rovers for a month because we did a fake Range Rover promo. The whole time we were very nervous because they were like, “If you crash this, you have to pay for it.”
Mero: I was just on the highway like, “Yeeeeeahhhhh!”
Okay, we’re talking about stuff that we love. What sneakers are you into right now?
Desus: The Union Jordan ones that just came out. The new colorway of the Fear of Gods that just came out.
I don’t know what any of these are.
Desus: Oh yeah. These aren’t regular. You can’t go into a Modell’s and buy these. We’re at a point now, it’s not about wearing sneakers for the flex. It’s about wearing sneakers that are so obnoxious and expensive and hard to purchase that the average person thinks they’re ugly.
Like, I wore the Tom Sachs Nike Moon Boots. Everyone’s like, “These sneakers are hideous.” And I was like, “Yeah, but you can’t get them.” That’s what sneakers are about. It’s not about function, it’s not about comfort—it’s about shitting on other people. It’s about wearing sneakers that cost the same amount as the house your mother raised you in.
Is everybody’s mad at you now that you’re so fancy?
Mero: No, it’s chill.
Desus: I think ’cause people have watched us come up, we didn’t just show up one day on top.
Mero: I always used to say when we were doing the Complex show, “I have more kids than I have t-shirts.” And that was was an actual fact. I had, like, two t-shirts and three children.
Desus: When we started the Complex show, I had two pairs of sneakers. ‘Cause I worked an office job and all I could wear were dress shoes, which is like a totally different world. And now I easily have over 500 sneakers. I have a sneaker room.
Mero: I was working at a school, and I had to spend money on sneakers. Because I worked with junior high school kids, and there’s nobody more ruthless than junior high school kids. They will fucking cook you. So I maxed out several credit cards buying sneakers just to keep up with 12-year-olds.
Mero, we’re going to talk about your wife, Heather. What is a nice thing you’ve done for her recently?
Desus: Not get her pregnant.
Mero: Also that. I’m pretty good at doing little things. She likes tulips a lot, so I just show up randomly with tulips, you know what I’m saying? I’ll get her a nice bottle of Irish whisky. There’s this nice place in Ridgewood in Jersey called Pearl. Super tiny, intimate restaurant. And I’ll call the babysitter and be like, “Hey, are you available tonight?” Very clandestine. And we’ll go enjoy homemade pasta by somebody’s Nana. Know what I mean?
What’s your pop culture diet? You guys seem to consume a lot. The other day you mentioned that comedian Russell Peters…
Mero: Russell Peters is the homie and it bonks me the fuck out. Because he’ll go to Serbia and sell out a stadium.
Desus: We have to digest stuff in the culture. Nothing’s worse than listening to a podcast that used to stay up on modern culture and the commentators have no idea what’s going on.
Mero: It kinda makes it fun. To watch shit you wouldn’t normally watch? You’re watching it to talk about it.
Desus: For example, the new season of Game of Thrones, I’m very excited. Because I have not seen any of the previous seasons. I’m going in blind. I don’t know any of the dragons’ names. There’s a girl named Khaleesi. I’m just gonna pick it up as I go along.
Mero: Just ask questions on Twitter.
Desus: I’ll be like, “Who’s that dragon? Wait, is that her brother? Did she fuck her brother? What the— Where’s the thrones? What’s the game?” See? Just imagine sitting in a room with me and you’re trying to take it serious. I did that for Breaking Bad, and it annoyed the girl I was with, because she was a big Breaking Bad fan, and I hopped in at the last season. I was like, “Wait a minute, he has cancer?”
Mero: “Is he laundering money?” “Wow, it’s in remission?”
Desus: I was like, “Who bad?”
Mero: “And why are they broken?”
Your Instagram DMs. Thirsty or not?
Desus: Do we get a lot of thirsty ones?
Mero: I don’t even know.
Desus: You know what, I get a lot and I’m gonna be honest. They’re getting so lazy now. People used to try, and people are not even trying now. I got one the other day, it was just like, “Yeah, I just want to fuck you.” That’s it. No intro, no number, it’s from a private account. I was actually offended. You don’t even have a picture in your avatar. Like, I have standards, miss.
“I don’t fuck eggs.”
Desus: Yeah. Any more.
Mero: Your Instagram DMs, you open them up and there’s the people you follow that can send you DMs, and then there’s that subcategory…
Desus: Yeah, those are the scary ones. The ones you don’t follow.
Mero: It’s like the dark zone. I was like, “I don’t even want to go in there…”
Desus: I got a lot of people who completely have their life set up already. They’re like, “Yo, I got a good job, I own a house, I have a car.” They’re like, “I just need a husband.” I was like, “I’m not moving to Wichita, but thank you. I’m flattered.” You can tell they’re really shy in real life. But then they just hop into the DM like, “I’m some wild shit.”
Mero: You’ll say things in text that you would never verbally say to a person. Your balls expand by like 8,000 percent via text. At 2 A.M. you’re like, “Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk.”
Desus: They’ll be like, “I just want you to split me in half like a log.” And the next one’s like, “Hey, had too much to drink last night, please ignore the last text.” Or if they send you the wild DM and you respond, and they’re like, “Yo, I didn’t think you were going to respond, I’m so sorry.” Like, “This was a dare, oh my God, I’m so embarrassed.” They’ll delete their account. Or it’s weird because it’s like, “This person has unsent this message.” You’ll see like five in a row, and you’re like, “What message been sent?” Now you extremely look at their account.
Mero: “Yo, what you say?” And they’re like, “NEVER MIND!” In all caps.
Anything else you guys want to talk about?
Mero: Happy birthday to my son! He just turned eight.
Desus: Yankees…27 rings, you know what I’m saying? Next year.
Those parts of your podcast, I totally blank out.
Desus: I’m not gonna lie, I was listening to the podcast yesterday, and I skipped through a part. But the most obnoxious part is, I will rewind our podcast. That was really funny. I turn it up in my apartment, and I’m like crying. And they’re like, “What are you listening to?” And I’m like, “Myself. I’m so good at this.”
That’s what Mariah Carey’s house is like.
Mero: “Alexa, play me.”
Watch Desus and Mero at 11 P.M. each Thursday on Showtime.
Photography by Kat Wirsing
Special thanks to Short Stories