Imagine you’re funny. Then imagine you’re with your friend, who’s also funny, and you two just talk shit about what’s going on and it’s very funny because you’re making each other laugh. Now imagine that got you a late night talk show, and you (who are funny in this instance) and your friend who is also funny get paid money to talk shit. And it’s great. That’s Desus & Mero. They’re just two funny dudes. When you’re watching their late night show, you feel like you’re kicking back and cracking each other up with your friends. I found out about the pair the same way most people did on their way up the brand – on twitter. I followed somebody who retweeted a few tweets from Desus, I thought they were funny, so I hit follow. Eventually, I was all in on the #BodegaHive.
One of the unique aspects of their show is the distinct lack of pomp and circumstance that is a staple of late night television. The set is simply two chairs, a little book table between them, and the set lights are completely, unashamedly visible in the wide shots. Speaking of the shots, there are only ever 3 fixed positions, no flashy movements. When they bring out guests, they sit together at a table that was likely found in a basement at Viceland headquarters. The only notable insert of flamboyance is a stuffed grizzly bear wearing Timbs and a yankee cap in the background.
Being funny isn’t as easy as it looks, which makes the fact that they are the only late night show without writers that much more impressive. They simply get fed topics from somebody off camera, and off they go. It’s exhilarating, like watching the sort of freeform of trying any ridiculous shot in an NBA pre-game shootaround. The only other working late night host that could do what they do is Conan O’Brien, who’s always at his funniest when he’s interacting with people on the street and not operating on scripted material. Furthermore, Conan’s the only other late night host like Desus and Mero who aren’t after creating the most meme-worthy material for the week. They aren’t gimmicky at all. I don’t want this to sound too much like I’m just here to praise Conan, but I just don’t know how else to stress how unmatched Desus and Mero are in their talent to consistently be funny at any given moment. Most late night commentary remains only funny in the moment, the joke’s gone a week later. Yet, I’m still here re-watching months-old clips of the pair laughing uncontrollably. Just watch them react to Weezy’s Black Lives Matter interview, or how wavy it must be to be a Trump supporter or DJ Khaled snapchatting his son’s birth. Their commentary is always fresh and hilarious, whether it’s on Mr. Brexit’s upcoming presidency of doom, how their beloved Knicks are doing while gushing over Melo da Gawd (This tweet goes out from at least one of them when Melo does something) and Kristaps “Alabaster Ewing” Porzingis, or simply them watching fight videos off the internet and reacting. Mero also gave the greatest description of Vice ever – he prefaces a story to a guest with “You know how Vice likes to send white people to dangerous places?”
Each episode is only roughly 22 minutes long as well, making it far more palatable than your average one hour commitment for late night. It’s quick and fresh, keeping the hosts on their toes and ourselves intrigued. It simply takes the fat out of the traditional late night format – imagine how much better a baseball game would be with more clocks on dead time. Also, is there any other late night show that comes with a disclaimer at the beginning, or several other disclaimers throughout the episodes that these two don’t represent the views or opinions of Viceland? Has late night television ever felt so taboo, exciting and dangerous?