BY BILL HANGLEY JR. Yes, Desus and Mero are stoners. But they’re not foggy wookie stoners. They’re rat-a-tat Bronx stoners who’ll snatch a sentence out of your mouth, run with it into the middle of the street, swing it around until it gets dizzy and then give it back to you upside-down and laughing. What results are some of the best interviews on television: The Daily Show as delivered by two smartass kids riding the subway all day when they should be in school. It’s not just that they ask the right questions, as in last week’s interview with Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio [SEE BELOW]:
“You ever roll up at Red Lobster like, forty deep?
“When was the last time you’ve been in a chain restaurant? Like your plane got stranded in Jacksonville?”
“What’s the worst thing you ever ate on the show?”
They know how to shut up when they’re getting the right answers. Again, from the Colicchio interview:?? “I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD. So I couldn’t get through a recipe. I got really frustrated. And when I was about fifteen, I guess, my dad came home with a book by a chef named Jacques Pépin, called La Technique, and it stressed the importance of technique and methods. I still can’t figure out why the hell my father brought that book back. He said he got it from the library at work. My father was a corrections officer in a jail. So I’m not sure how that book ended up in that jail. But he brought it home and it completely changed my life.”
Desus and Mero honed their craft on YouTube and podcasts, and just celebrated their 100th late-night show on the Viceland channel. Their politics are merciless (“Trump goes on Sirius – why? Just another hot take on the Civil War and his boy Andrew Jackson. Another event he found out about yesterday, or like five minutes before the briefing…”), and their taste in video clips shamelessly juvenile (one choice featured an arm wrestler snapping his humerus), but their humor is good-natured and contagious, and their tag-team improvisation invariably disarms their guests and brings out their best.
Some recent favorites include rap duo Run the Jewels (“are you going to add Bernie Sanders as a third member?”), science guru Neil DeGrasse Tyson (“best-known astrophysicist from the Bronx – at least I got that”), political pundit Angela Rye (“what is it called when you got two different baby mamas pregnant at the same time? What kind of twins is that? Bronx twins. I didn’t say that”) and Blackish star Anthony Anderson: “My momma be asking for fifty grand at a clip! Oh my God! That’s why I had to give her a fucking job! Now it’s a tax writeoff.”
If you’re not watching, watch. Like all great interviewers they’re genuinely interested in their guests and what they have to share, and like all great improvisers they make everyone onstage raise their game:
DESUS: “I’m out here in these streets. What’s the best place to eat in New York that’s not Papaya King?”
TOM COLICCIO: “Best restaurant in New York besides Papaya King? What are you going out for?”
DESUS: “To get slizzered.”
MERO: “And then possibly go home, you know what I’m saying? Get a little cheek action?”
DESUS: “I’m saying…”
COLICCIO: “I got a few that could fit the bill. So you’re talking about a good romantic place?”
DESUS: “I ain’t say all that.”
COLICCIO: “In that case, stick with Papaya King. You’ll be all right.”