I first encountered Desus Nice on Twitter. His avatar was of a dog in a balaclava, and he was so damn funny that I started following him and his equally hilarious (though notably louder) buddy Kid Mero. There was something about their particular sensibility and wit that was both electrifyingly different from anything else and also overwhelmingly familiar in a way I couldn’t quite name.
Then I found out the reason Desus felt familiar was because we literally went to elementary school together. Desus was Daniel, a boy I remembered spending time with in the schoolyard and at the cafeteria table. The world we grew up in, the ragtag world of Bronx kids cracking wise between classes, had somehow—improbably—become the basis for a hilarious podcast and then a TV show.
Desus and Mero are smart-asses, and I mean that in the fullest, most adoring sense. They are both extremely smart: witty and insightful and so quick on their feet. They are not afraid to clown around and wild out and simply delight in talking about the insanity of the world we inhabit. You could try a million times to make this work as a TV show and it would fail almost every time without their particular presence and rapport. But by God does it ever work.
Late night has long been dominated by a certain kind of approachable and inoffensive white man, and now suddenly—in America, in the age of Trump—these two have exploded out of the Bronx to remake the genre itself. The lesson is that the Bronx is as much “real America” as anywhere else in this country. Here’s to the future belonging to outer-borough smart-asses.
Hayes is the host of All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC