The late-night television scene finally gives flowers to Desus Nice and The Kid Mero after joining Showtime to launch a new show following their split with Viceland a few years ago. Since the move, the hilarious duo gained enough notoriety to draw in some of the toughest names in the business to visit for an interview.
Remember when former President Barack Obama stopped by that one time?
Their famous claim “The brand is strong” is manifesting powerful partnerships, endorsement deals, and the ability to claim a budding protégée named Ziwe from their writer’s room who is launching her own weekly late-night show also on Showtime. And to think the fellas are only getting started.
Deadline chronicles the upward trajectory of Desus and Mero, born Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez, starting with their breakout start online with Complex and curating a loyal following from their Bodega Boys podcast. It was a slow climb to success, but once the quick-witted comedians landed a late-night show on Viceland, their futures changed forever. In over 300 episodes and with little to no budget, they helped modernize the late-night television format, one fresh pair of Timberlands and a chopped cheese at a time.
“Late-night is so established and formulaic, and here we come with a deconstructed late-night show and it’s something that a new generation is used to, similar to TikTok, in little chunks,” Desus revealed to Deadline. “We’re spinning late-night on its axis and people really like that. Shout out to Jimmy Fallon or Trevor Noah, but what they do is different; our show is structured differently to theirs. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with what they’re doing, we just took the late-night avenue and made it our own and that’s what people appreciate.”
Both Desus and Mero are entirely in synch enough to complete each other sentences, yet none of their chemistry is constructed or fabricated. It’s a unique pairing that was fated to create something television hasn’t seen before.
“It would be exhausting to be a persona for ten years. We’re not classically trained comedians or actors, we’re trained by the New York City public school system. That’s where we learned comedy. Essentially, this is us all the time,” says Mero.
Working in television during a pandemic has made their presence and easy banter a firm fixture on viewers’ screens. The great work increases their chances of an Emmy nomination, or at least host the award show. Prayer hands it works out.
Deadline also covered the rising fame of Ziwe and her unique approach to comedy, described as a mix of The Colbert Report and Da Ali G Show. Everything is intentional. Between the selection of her guests and the “Barbie’s dream house” inspired set decoration, Ziwe’s determined to stand out from the typical white male dominant presence in the late-night time slot.
“Intentionally, I wanted to stand in contrast with the Jimmys and the Johns of late-night,” she said. “So often, when I was aspiring to become a late-night host, you were nodded in the direction that smart women wear pants and glasses and blue and are very serious and femininity is not someone who is necessarily an intellectual. I wanted to defy the idea of what it means to be an intellectual and a woman.”
While her mentors are still waiting for their shot at the Emmys, Ziwe’s six-episode series is being submitted in the variety show category going up against the likes of SNL and A Black Lady Sketch Show for a nomination.
“This is a variety show in the truest sense of the word, because there’s music, guests, field pieces, sketches and fake commercials. I am just making important work that is hopefully funny, so the show is what you interpret, it fits into several genres. It’s stretching the definition of what comedy means,” she adds.
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