Desus & Mero On Being Authentic, Creating a Successful Brand, and Taylor Swift | Fast Company
– What’s the key to us
creating a successful brand? Because when we started this, we had no idea what we were doing. – Absolutely no idea.
– And somehow, it’s all fell in place. – It’s like that weird
viral video of the guy that fell asleep at the
wheel and somehow didn’t die. And then he just woke up. And it was just like he
was back on the road. – I would like to point out
that your Twitter timeline is different than mine.
(Mero laughing) I have no idea what the
hell you’re talking about, like Which makes me wonder
if this is not a video, is this something you
experienced this weekend. (upbeat music) – All right, we’re
talking about successful working partnerships.
– Yes. – What do you think is the key to a successful working partnership? – I think that it’s kind
of like opposites attract, but not so much because our
lifestyles are different. – Mm hm.
– So then when we come together, it’s like, oh shit, that’s what you did? Okay, that’s what I did. – So you’re using the Paula
Abdul, MC Skat Kat theory. – Yes.
– Of opposites attract. – Opposites attract. – So 10 steps forward, two steps back? That’s what makes opposites attract? – Boom. Before becoming the
illustrious Bodega Boys, what is something that
you would get hyped about that looking back you’re
like man, this is some. – One of my nicknames, Young Chipotle. Like, literally being able
to get one bowl of Chipotle a month because that’s
how tight my budget was. Like after paying for
ConEd bill and my rent, so then I was like yo I’m gonna get one fat bowl of Barbacoa and
eat it on the 6 train while I’m crying like.
– Yeah. – Don’t get no betta’ than this. (Mero sobbing) One day, I’ma get guacamole. – One day, it’s extra but I’ma do it. – Listen, we had to initially
share our Metro card. – That’s facts. – When we recorded our first podcast. Like, at no time when we were
doing, we were just hype. We were like yo, maybe
we get a free T-shirt. – Yo.
– They got half a donut in the Complex conference room, let’s go eat that.
– Yo fam, yo they got purified water. Whoa.
– Oh man. (bright music) – What’s the key to us
creating a successful brand? Because when we started this, we had no idea what we were doing. – Absolutely no idea.
– And somehow, it’s all fell in place. – Creating a successful brand
is just about like people fucking with you and like
knowing what you bring to the table and being able to like, I feel like we’re lucky in the sense that we have created
like this Marvel Universe of like characters and people
and ideas and everything. You know what I mean? And people like really
gravitate towards that. And like, just y’know, find
your people, y’know what I mean? Find your market, whatever,
and just like lean into it. You know what I mean? And like, y’know, it’ll happen. – Yeah, I think our, I
think a big part of it is authenticity, which we definitely have. When you meet us on the
street, you’re not meeting, it’s not like some character we have to put on.
– It’s like no, please get away from
me, no, don’t touch me. – I’m not even from the Bronx. No, it’s authenticity, what
you see is what you get. People respect that. That’s very rare nowadays in Hollywood. And also consistency. Because like even when we
first started the podcast, remember we’d do the podcast and we were like yo,
we’ll be back in a month. They were like where is the podcast? You promised. Now we have to drop it every week. But people appreciate that,
people listen to it religiously. And that, the fact that
we take it seriously and like we don’t just
take the fans for granted, they pay you back in spades for that ’cause they’re just like yo, you don’t take what we’re doing, supporting you, for granted, so we’re not gonna take
supporting you for granted. And that’s why we’re able
to say the brand is strong, because we literally have
fans that are either, they will either kill for us or kill us. Hope for the first one.
(upbeat music) – [Host] Which co-host
is more likely to tweet something that gets their show canceled? (audience laughing) (Mero laughing) – What’s the biggest, this is deep, what’s the biggest change you would like to make to late night TV? – Biggest change I’d like to
make to for late night TV, I mean, we’ve already
kinda changed it, y’know? Like we dress different,
we curse a lot more. Our topics are completely
inappropriate for television, you people love it, you’re sick. And, I just, I feel like,
it’s too, for something that’s supposed to be fun,
it’s very like uptight. It’s very suit, monologue,
walk from here to here. And I think that’s the thing, we’re bringing fun back to late night. Like when you watch the show, you’re not getting jokes thrown at you. You’re in on the joke,
you’re watching with us, you’re laughing at the same jokes as us. And it doesn’t feel so
uptight, it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t take itself serious, y’know? Like you see our show, we make fumbles, we knock stuff over, there’s no retakes. It’s just like yo, it is what it is. And I think that, like
that sense of looseness, ’cause you can see the difference when late night hosts come on our show and like how they interact
with us on our show versus when we go on their show because there’s certain
ways things have done, things have always been done in Hollywood, and I feel like we’re kinda changing that. – I completely agree with that. Like yo, we’re doing a sketch tomorrow. Fine, let’s go. Oh no, let’s hold that, let’s put this ’cause the A block was so dope, let’s make it run extra long. I feel like a lot of other people don’t have the freedom to do that. And I feel like that
us busting in the door and being like yo, we
demand this or we’re like, we’re not fucking with this. Like, just letting your nuts hang and being like yo, this is what we want. We want creative control, we’ve had success on a smaller platform, all you need to do is boost our signal. – And shout out to David Nevins at Showtime.
– David Nevins, you know what I’m sayin’?
– Signed us and was like I want you guys to come over
here and let your nuts hang. – That’s exact, that’s verbatim. – I have his email, I will print it out.
– Quote. – But yeah, support, any,
your brand can’t be successful without some sort of support, whether it’s from you, your
family, your customers, somebody has to have your
back and believe in you and y’know, provide the
financing and provide the things you need so you can concentrate on actually building your brand. (upbeat music) – As our career and platform has grown, what’s been the biggest
learning curve for you? – I think probably taking
help from other people. Because usually it was just me and you just doing a podcast, y’know? It’s just us, didn’t have to go through anyone else.
– Self sufficient, yeah. – And now, y’know, we
have a writer’s room, we have directors, we have
producers, we have line editors. Every now and then, y’know,
I watch them and I’m like, I would’ve cut that the other way or I don’t like the
direction this went in. And you have to trust the directors, you have to trust the writers. In the end, you always
look at the final product and you’re like yo, this is amazing. But this is just that sense
of letting go of control. That’s very hard for me to
do, I’ve never been allowed, like, you know even back before, when I was a small business
owner, it’s just like, that’s something people,
entrepreneurs tend to become overwhelmed with, you
don’t know how to delegate. So you try to do everything yourself, an idea of like losing control
and giving other people responsibility for your day to day life is so jarring and shaking. But that’s something I
definitely had to learn to do this show because if
not, like we’d burn out. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you? – Just like balancing
work and family life, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause like I love what I do, I love what we do, you
know what I’m sayin’? I have fun, you know what I’m sayin’? Like everyday I go into work and I’m like I don’t hate my job. – That’s true.
– This shit is crazy. – How hard is that? ‘Cause you have four kids, and I know your weekends
are about the kids. And that’s like just trying to balance, ’cause we’re all, we’re working hard. Like right now, we’re on tour, y’know, in Houston, Dallas, Austin. – It’s a tough balancing act, but the good thing is that
when we got to Showtime, it was just like okay, cool. I always, ’cause I had always felt, and this was part of the learning curve, like I always felt like, and I feel like you could
relate to this on a level too, like being the child of an immigrant, like your parents always
drilling into your head like yo, if your job is from nine to five, motherfucker, you are
there from nine to five. – Right.
– Like don’t play around. ‘Cause you could lose your job. And I’m like, well I’m not a plumber, ya’ know what I’m sayin’? Like I’m not working,
I’m not medical building. I don’t necessarily have
to stick to that time. But just internally, like I have to. – You’re on the clock.
– Yeah, or else I get like, anxiety. Like if I’m sitting in
my office doing nothing, I’m like I’ll find something to do. Like I’m writing something, I’m doing something or whatever. But, getting home, it’s
just straight daddy time. Like my phone goes in the drawer, and I’m just like yo, how was school? Let’s sit down and chop it up, let’s play Mario Kart for a little bit before you go to bed. – Yeah, your family time is important and that used to annoy the shit out of me. ‘Cause like you used to be
unreachable on the weekends. And it was one of the
most annoying things ever. I’m not gonna lie. I used to send an email off
Friday, it’s always like I’m not gonna get a
fucking answer ’til Monday. (Mero laughing)
Tired of this guy. But now, you know, you’ve
gotten better at it. ‘Cause other people answer
your emails for you. But also, I understand ’cause
you have way too many kids. And, y’know.
– Facts. And it’s like yo, you don’t
want to pay more attention to one kid than the other, ’cause I found myself
paying way more attention to my daughter than to my son.
– To be fair, she cuter. – [Mero] Y’know what I’m sayin’? And she’s the only one, too.
– She’s the only one. – So it’s just like yo, you still a baby. – You know what it is, like
when you get a baseball card and you keep getting
the same baseball card, and you get that one rookie card. – You be like oh, I got the
Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card. Like yo, this is fuckin’ dope.
– She’s your favorite, you gotta laminate her, put her in the front
of the pile, like yeah. (Mero laughing) (upbeat music) – And I had no idea that like
if you drink sitting down in the sun a lot, and then you stand up, it’s like yo.
(audience laughing) – What’s the biggest career
lesson you’ve learned? – Always be authentic. That’s a recurring theme. And just be yourself. Yeah, nah, I mean just like
being true to yourself, being authentic, doing what you wanna do. And when you get pushed back, push back. What’s been the biggest career lesson that you have learned, my friend? – The biggest career lesson I’ve learned, the amount of you talent
have doesn’t necessarily mean how successful you’re gonna be. – True.
– And that’s why you have to advocate for yourself. Because you would think
that people just naturally like yo, what they do, no one else can do, and that’s not the case whatsoever. And y’know, this industry is
fickle, people come, people go. There’s people who had shows two years ago you don’t even hear about them anymore. And that’s why you always have to, you always have to have
your best foot forward, you always have to be
advocating for yourself, you have to have a good team behind you that is not doing it just for money, but they actually believe with you and they rock with what you’re doing and they have your best interest at heart. And if you don’t have that,
you’re not gonna have a career. I think there was a
quote from Taylor Swift and she said something like
anyone could be popping for two years, but if you’re
popping for like three years, it’s a career, and that was
always something big to me. I was like yo, we gotta do
this for at least three years. And we’ve done it past three years. – Past three years.
– Past three years. – Five years, motherfucker. – One thing you learned,
if you were talking to a graduating class, in summation. – I would like to say
this, work your hardest, you are going to fail. When you fail, continue to work. If you fail again, maybe
this shit ain’t for you. – That’s tough but fair.
– Know what I’m sayin’? – That’s tough but fair.
– ‘Cause I tell my kids all the time, I’m like
yo, life ain’t fair dog. (upbeat music)