DESUS AND MERO are sitting and talking and making each other laugh. This is what they do, for hours on end, for growing audiences and rapidly increasing sums of money. The rooms change, the chairs change, but the basic idea remains. They sit. They talk. They laugh. They also drink: Desus takes slugs from a beer that’s been relabeled D+M, while Mero keeps a bottle of rum between his feet. This Thursday morning, Desus (a.k.a. Desus Nice, a.k.a. Daniel Baker) and Mero (a.k.a. The Kid Mero, a.k.a. Joel Martinez) are taping their new weekly Showtime series at a Manhattan TV studio that has been designed to look like a TV studio dropped onto a street corner in the Bronx, which is where they are from. The walls are gratied. There’s a subwayetiquette poster, like the real ones New Yorkers see every day, only this one urges passengers not to blast music “unless that shit slaps.” Guests enter through a fake bodega storefront.
Right now, Desus and Mero are not just making each other laugh, but also waiting. The camera crew needs a few more minutes, so they kill time by serving as their own warm-up act for the studio audience. From a table just o camera, Julia Young, one of their producers, lobs topics that are in the news—the college-admissions bribery scandal, the 2020 presidential campaign, Jussie Smollett, the supposed “Jexodus”—and then watches, with a mixture of delight and dread, to see what will follow. A year ago, Desus an