So, a couple readers texted, what the heck happened to Desus & Mero? Blame their manager.
When the news broke Tuesday that the comedy duo Desus Nice (a.k.a. Daniel Baker) and the Kid Mero (a.k.a. Joel Martinez) would end both their creative partnership and their excellent Showtime late-night show, many in the comedy world were perplexed. These guys had a great gig, were landing guests like Presidents Biden and Obama and Denzel Washington, and seemingly had the network’s full support. But the rift that led to the implosion was pretty clear to insiders at the show.
Here’s what happened, according to five separate sources. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Showtime asked that Victor Lopez, the duo’s longtime manager and a credited producer on Desus & Mero, no longer attend tapings or appear in meetings. Lopez had been accused of asshole behavior, including bullying, screaming and generally making people on the show feel bad. Several formal complaints had been made, according to two sources. (Showtime and reps for the duo declined to comment; Lopez could not be reached.)
Desus agreed with Showtime and wanted Lopez out, but Mero is said to have felt loyal to their manager, who had been with the Bronx-raised duo for years. The comics first became big on Black Twitter, were brought together for a podcast for Complex, then another pod, Bodega Boys, that led to a show on Viceland, and then, for the past four seasons, on Showtime. Lopez was there for pretty much all of it, and Mero resisted booting him, I’m told.
As the dispute metastasized, people started noticing. The duo stopped posting podcast episodes in November, which raised eyebrows among fans. Mero quietly left their longtime agent Christina Bazdekis, and lawyer, Victoria Cook, and signed in February with WME and Ziffren Brittenham by himself. The stars talked less and less during the show’s fourth season, which concluded in June. Desus hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live solo earlier this summer. Last week, responding to some fan tweets suggesting the end of the podcast, Desus said that their followers “deserved better than this ending.” And at the MLB All-Star Game’s celebrity softball exhibition last weekend, I’m told they arrived and participated in activities separately. Then, Tuesday, the announcement from Showtime. Desus is already teasing a new project.