The brand remains strong. Showtime’s critically acclaimed late-night sensation “Desus & Mero” returns for a third season on Jan. 31, and continues its twice-a-week Sunday-and-Thursday schedule after that. Variety spoke to hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero about what to expect as their show returns in a post-President Trump world.
What did you think of the inauguration?
Desus Nice: It was very much like Obama’s first inauguration, where you were kind of nervous. When they were outside the car, you were like, “I hope the snipers are ready. Let’s make sure everyone gets where they need to get to!” But it felt like a real American inauguration. This one had all the pomp and circumstance. Lady Gaga, you had Jennifer Lopez representing the BX.
The Kid Mero: Yeah, after four years, it’s a little surreal to be like, “Yo, this is normal. This is a normal inauguration.” Just to see a semblance of normalcy again, was wild.
How do you feel now that Trump is out of office?
Desus: It’s like when you’re a kid and your parents go away, and they leave you with a really bad babysitter, and they’re super mean and breaking shit. And for the first time you really miss your parents. And when your parents come back, you’re like, “Yo, I missed you guys.” Like now the structure is back. The adults are back. Now the house is not gonna burn down.
The Kid Mero: Yeah, listen, I now fully understand why we can’t have ice cream for dinner, mom.
What does this shift in the White House mean for the show?
Mero: Wild shit is still going to be occurring in the world. I think our strength is that we attack what everybody else is talking about from a different angle. I don’t think there’s gonna be a dearth of stuff to talk about.
Desus: If anything, now the world’s gonna look like “Book of Eli,” because we have to clean up everything that Trump did. And that itself is going to be its own story. But you have to remember: The world was crazy before Trump. Remember “freedom fries,” little things like that? We might be going back to that kind of basic-level political controversy. Like if Biden wears a tan suit, we’re gonna rip him to shreds.
Mero: It’s like if the Trump administration was like a Michael Bay movie and it’s just like mad explosions and huge boats exploding and planes exploding and all types of weird special effects. It’s tempered now.
How did it feel to interview your dream guest, President Obama, last year?
Mero: Now where do we go from here? It doesn’t hit you until after. Once you see the actual interview come out, and it’s edited, it was definitely a moment. My mom was almost in tears: “My son did this.” It was big.
Desus: It was a super cool interview. Everyone was just chopping it up. And then even after we finished rolling, we were just casually talking to him afterwards. He wasn’t on some superstar thing about running out afterwards. We’re just talking guy stuff. And it really is one of those things, like Mero said, you look back and you’re like, “Yo, I did that.”
Who is the new dare-to-dream guest?
Desus: Rihanna or Beyoncé. One of those celebrities that doesn’t really do interviews. But they’d feel comfortable coming and talking to us.
What about having Trump on?
Desus: I don’t know if it’s a dream. But actually, the thing is, he seems like that wouldn’t even be a hard get at this point. Who wants him? It’s not even like you can get him and ask his opinion on something because you know he’s going to talk about the “stolen election.” It’s gonna be the same slate of lies. Now that he’s not president, you don’t have to kiss his ass in an interview. I think we might be a little too rough for him to deal with. If he couldn’t handle an interview with Leslie Stahl he would not be able to deal with the Bodega Boys. Not at all.
Mero: He’s the most thin-skinned New Yorker I’ve ever seen!
I do wonder what his neon sign would be.
Desus: His neon sign would be rambling; it would just fill the screen. It would just be like, ‘We won bigly and bigly we won majorly and major things are happening. People are saying that I was the best and some people were not so good. Not so bad. But we did it and things are done great. And you know, never, never in the range of the history of what our president, not a lot of people, you know, I was the richest New Yorker.” It’s just like, the characters just keep filling on the screen forever.
Mero: “Subscribe to the YouTube channel to see the rest of the sign.”
What’s the status of moving the show back to the studio?
Desus: COVID is still going on, the numbers are still high, you got 400,000 Americans dead and we recently lost someone on our production side. So rather than put our staff at risk, we’re going to continue to shelter in place and record from home. It’s cool — my bed is a couple of feet away. I got the fridge right there. I got all the snacks I need. We’ve been doing it for a while; we’ve established a routine.
Mero: It doesn’t make sense to just go back just to go back. A TV production is 50 people. Edit bays are in enclosed spaces. There’s just so much that can go wrong. We’ve been doing this for a calendar year now at this point, so we got it down. The first couple of weeks were a little rocky with the webcams and all that stuff, but now we’ve got setups, everything’s all good. And we just hit the ground running.
What can we expect as “Desus & Mero” returns?
Desus: It’s more of us with the energy recapping what’s happened in the culture. And we don’t have to cover Trump as much, so now we can really get into local news stories. There’s a great story right now: They found a perfectly preserved dinosaur butthole. Like, come on, that’s on our radar.
Mero: I feel like the last half of season two, we really hit our super stride. I feel like we made like, every year-end list out there. That’s my thing, man. I’m like, hey, look, “critically acclaimed.” When you can throw that in front of your show, “critically acclaimed late night show,” that’s Morgan Freeman levels of gravitas.
You’ll have the New York mayoral election to talk about.
Desus: I’ll just say it this way. It’s gonna be an interesting race. It’s also going to show us if we learned anything about the election of Trump. Because you’re going to start to see if people are picking flash over substance. Because if you’re getting excited about some of these mayoral candidates and they haven’t even said any policy or done any work, we’re going to end up with the wrong candidate. We’ve got to cover that on our show. So that’s the weird thing about our show. People going for office, they have to come on our show now. So we’ll definitely be covering the New York mayoral race on our show. So don’t tweet anything that gets you banned from our show, people!
Mero: That’s right. Go call your publicist right now.
What’s the word from Showtime these days, any notes?
Desus: Showtime has always been relatively hands off with the show and just been happy with it. If anything, they’re just like, “whatever you need, let us know.” That was evidenced by when they moved us to Sunday night. That’s a big night. That’s where all the flagship shows are. And they moved us there. And as you see, we’re still there!
Mero: Going from once a week to twice a week because of the rabid demand. And then putting us on in that Sunday lineup, which is the heavy hitters. That shows that the network has faith in your show and wants it to succeed. So, shout out to Showtime.
Any talk of doing even more nights a week?
Desus: I mean, that would be nice. But logistically, that’d be very hard. There are a lot more moving pieces than there were before. So you have to give production time to edit pieces, the graphics department, the arts department, stuff like that. Also, that probably would wear us down. Even though we are staying at home, three nights a week would be a lot!
You’re a part of a larger ViacomCBS conglomerate now, so what’s next? Let’s plant the seeds for you to host the Emmys in September.
Desus: Listen, from your lips…
Mero: …to God’s ears! You know, “critically acclaimed hosts,” host the Emmys, it makes perfect sense!
Desus: Definitely. Listen, if you guys want us to host stuff, just say it. Maybe this is a year we host “SNL” who knows? Anything’s possible.
Mero: The world is our oyster.
What have you guys been able to do during quarantine? Any new hobbies?
Desus: You know, it’s been so long, I’ve gone through so many things. I went through a bread making stage, I went through a flying drone stage, I went through a working out stage, reading books. Right now, it’s January, and I’ve been watching music videos a lot lately. I didn’t know they still existed and then watching them now. You’re just like, what is going on here? Because they’re not made for adults. They’re made for teenagers. What looks super impressive to a teenager, when you’re like in your 30s and 40s, you’re like, “that’s not even legally possible.” I’m like, “that rapper can’t be flying a helicopter so close to buildings!” You know, the FAA does not allow that. Wait, was that Ferrari doing 150 in a residential neighborhood? That’s outrageous! I’m like, “All your cash is in a rubber band in the back of your Tesla? I’m calling my accountant!” So that’s fun.
Mero: I have played so much Fortnite with my kids. It’s unbelievable. I used to, be like, “go ahead, do your thing.” But now they’re homeschooling. So everybody’s in the house. And you know, dad’s home. All my kids are under 10, so they don’t understand, dad’s home, but he’s still working. So even though I’m working, they’re still like, “Hey, you want to do this, you want to do that?” And I’m like, “Yeah, of course, I’m your Dad, that’s my job!” So you’re looking at the number one Fortnite player in the 35 and older bracket in my county!
I also hope you’ll be able to explain the whole sea shanty thing on TikTok.
Mero: I will have to call one of my children here to explain it to us.
Desus: That can be explained very simply: Boredom. People have completely run out of things to do. Come on, we’re doing sea shanties? Up next, do you know what’s gonna come back? Carving wood. That’s gonna be the next hot trend in 2021. You’re gonna see hipsters all over whittling. Just whittling in bars, like “yo lady I whittled you this!”
Mero: Like old school stuff, like crochet and whittling is gonna make a comeback. Model airplanes, the pirate ships that you put in a bottle. That’s gonna make a comeback.
Desus: Remember you had a wheel and you had a stick and you pushed it down the road in the olden times. Basically, we’re going back to the 1920s. Actually as a Black person, I would like that stricken from the record. I don’t want to go back to the 1920s.
Mero: These ’20s are bad enough.
Desus: I don’t even want to go back to 2020!
“Desus & Mero” returns for Season 3 on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 11 p.m. ET on Showtime.