The Kid Mero spoke to Boardroom about his split with Desus, what got him into Formula 1, and his pitch to keep Aaron Judge a Yankee.
The Kid Mero is finally flying solo.
After a nearly decade-long run with Desus Nice that ended with a successful Showtime talk show, the 39-year-old Mero began his first project post Desus & Mero last weekend with the Formula 1 live audio series “Fast & Loose” on Amazon’s Amp, alongside Michelle Beadle and Will Arnett, among others.
Over Zoom this past week, the media personality, comedian, Bronx native, and diehard New York sports fan spoke about his split with Desus, what got him into Formula 1, why international trends are important, and why the Yankees should do whatever it takes to keep Aaron Judge.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
SHLOMO SPRUNG: Let’s get the hard part out of the way first. What happened with the partnership with Desus that you can discuss?
Mero: What I can discuss. Yo, shout out to you for that. It was a very industry type of situation where it’s like, ‘okay, we both have different interests and I wanna do this type of show. He wants to do that type of show.’ I always say at the end of the day, we’re similar, but we’re not congruent. There’s certain interests that I wanted to pursue. There’s certain interests that he wanted to pursue. So that was solidified when we signed at Showtime because we signed individual deals; an overall deal for him, an overall deal for me, where it was like ‘you create and produce and do whatever you want over here and you can do the same on your end.’
When you start to kind of work on your own stuff, you want to give it the attention that it deserves. It was over 10 years doing the show, and saying it ran its course sounds derisive. It’s more like we’ve been doing this thing for a long time. Let’s spread our wings to see what else we could do.
SS: It’s interesting that you guys signed individual contracts and weren’t a package deal. So maybe this was just going to happen eventually.
Mero: Yeah. I like that. I feel like that might have been the impetus behind signing individual deals. Everything that’s ever happened with Bodega Boys has been organic, right? Like [longtime manager] Victor [Lopez] saying ‘let’s hold the line on a sponsor and do it for free until we get to a certain number that we all feel comfortable.’ I get tangential when we start talking about that. But it was very much strategic. To the outside world, it feels like ‘oh my god, what happened?’ But it’s very strategic, you know?
SS: What do you want your fans to remember about the partnership?
Mero: Just that a lot of people would say after a live show, an appearance, or even in comments or clips that ‘this was a respite for me. I had a shitty day or I’m going through a rough time, I broke up with a partner and it was the purest form of escapism that I’ve ever encountered. And I feel represented. I feel seen.’ You know what I mean? There’s not a lot of people that look like me, sound like me, talk like me, dress like me on TV. So the fact you are doing it on that level was inspiring, really dope.’
SS: So now you have this kind of runway to take on different projects. What’s come your way since the split was announced, or even before that?
Mero: Before, there was stuff and then after there was like capital S Stuff. So there’s a lot of interest. I don’t want to spill the beans or whatever, but there’s a lot of scripted stuff in the works, a lot of stuff going on. In the last few weeks or even months since the show ended has been really looking at that runway and being like ‘oh shit, that’s a lot of runway.’ So now it’s more so ‘how do we parse through these things, how are we going to move forward?’ So there’s stuff in the air. There’s a lot of interest. There’s a lot of buzz. There’s a lot of everything now. All of this stuff that you’ve always been doing with writing, creating, developing, now let’s take it out.
SS: If I were to tell you five years ago that the first project you would do after Desus & Mero would be Formula 1, you would’ve said I was bugging out, right?
Mero: Yeah, absolutely. It’s wild, and this happened to me as a result of looking at the market. And Bad Bunny is a great example of like, yo, America is not the world. The United States is not the entire planet. There are things that are huge internationally that America hasn’t caught up to yet. And F1 is one of those things. Like I remember back in 2015, 2016 or something being yo, this guy Bad Bunny, man. He’s like a Puerto Rican trap rapper, reggaeton artist, mash-up hybrid. But this dude is gonna blow up. Trust me. And people were like ‘eh, he’s another Daddy Yankee.’ Now the dude is literally an international sensation where I think he just broke a record of touring ticket sales or something like that.
I had never watched Formula 1. So when I started to watch it, I was like ‘oh, shit.’ In my head I was like ‘yo, this isn’t NASCAR where they’re just turning left for 800 laps.’ Bruh the first time I did a race, like we started doing them internally, I was like yo this is wild. The first turn, there were like three collisions. I was like ‘this is different.’ This is not the American motorsports. Just the simple fact that I jumped in with both feet, I was in. And the personalities are hilarious.
With F1, there are 10 teams and 20 drivers. So it’s really easy to pick up and become a fan of a certain driver or team. It’s almost like podcasting. You become a stan of a Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton or GOATifi [Nicholas Latifi] like the meme. That part really appeals to me, too. It’s not like the NFL, where there’s like 55 guys on every team and you don’t know who the right guard for the Chargers is right now. What casual fan knows that? But I’ll tell you right now, it’s Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes. It’s a little easier to keep track of.
SS: Did you have a team or a driver that you gravitated towards right away as a fan?
Mero: Immediately? It was Lewis Hamilton. After the interview for the talk show, we kind of clicked because they were in a break or whatever and he was kind of running around doing his thing and he agreed to come do the show. Again, shout out to Victor. He was like ‘yo trust me, this guy is a legend. You might not know exactly who he is or recognize him, but this guy is huge.’ I was like okay great, let’s do it. Let’s run the interview. So we did it. Lewis was a tremendous human being, and I clicked with him immediately.
We started talking, joking around and he was just so cool. You would never realize that this guy makes like a gazillion dollars a year. He’s world famous. He’s like a multiple time champion, literally the GOAT of the sport. He’s the LeBron of F1 right now. So after that I was like that’s my guy. And then shout out to Checo [Sergio Perez], represent for my Latinos out there. Me being Dominican, like all my aunts, uncles, and cousins got names like Chachi and Chichi and Titi. So a dude having a name like Checo, it’s a very Latino nickname. So that immediately sucked me in.
SS: How’d you get approached by Amazon? Will Arnett, Michelle Beadle, and you. That’s an interesting group of people.
Mero: Yeah. Shout out to the Amp crew, man. They put this group together like fucking Nick Fury putting together the Avengers. They were like what is the best mix of people that we could possibly get? And they did it because yo — Will is hilarious. Michelle is hilarious and knows her shit from sportscasting. I’ve been an F1 thirstball for I don’t even know how long. I’ve signed up. I bought the package, bro. And I’m watching this stuff on my computer. I’m watching old races. I’m fully in it. Mika Häkkinen is a legend. Katie Osborne is a legend. So everybody that’s involved is somebody who brings something different than your typical F1 announcing crew.
SS: How did the first show go?
Mero: The first internal show was hilarious because there was a stoppage of like 54 minutes in the race, rain or whatever. There was a safety car, a collision. It was when Zo [Fernando Alonso] flipped the car and it was actually kind of scary. We never wanted to comment on that stuff as it’s going on, because you don’t know…
It was like trial by fire. That’s when I knew myself and Michele, we got this. We knew not to talk about that until we got confirmation that everybody was okay. He was safe. Everything’s good. The race is gonna continue. And we just filled 50 minutes with banter.
F1 is gaining popularity here in the United States. So we’re on the same level. Like I’m not Martin Brundle. I don’t know everything about every tire and every engine, the minutiae of the sport. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there. So for the people that are not there yet but are getting there and just want to have a good time and enjoy a race, this is the perfect entry point for that.
SS: What should people expect from the show going forward?
Mero: It’s just fun, man. And F1 races are early. Depending on where you’re at in the country, that can be really early or kind of early. So my whole thing is like I wanna bring that energy to every race, to every caller that calls in, to everything that happens on the track in the paddock. If Tom Cruise is in there with shoe lifts in the Ferrari garage, I’m talking about it. We’re making jokes. It’s just fun. Because what are sports if they’re not fun? It’s entertainment. Some people are like ‘you guys are making a mockery.’ No, we’re not making a mockery. I love this shit. I wanna learn more about it, but don’t throw me in the deep end. We’re in a place where I feel like the rest of America is with F1, by and large. Obviously, there are hardcore fans here, but the wave of new fans that’s coming now and they’re talking about adding new races in the U.S. and Audi and Porsche coming into the mix, and the Andrettis trying to get in the mix to be an American team.
There’s a lot of layers to the sport, too. I know I’m getting tangential, but the layers make it dope. There’s the actual technical aspect of it, and there’s the team aspect of it. One of the first things I said was like, ‘Fuck, how are you on a team with somebody that you want to beat?’ There’s layers in the relationships. This is like Love & Hip Hop but with cars. There’s drama and it’s like Real Housewives. There’s intrigue, but also at the core of it there’s a real sport that’s hugely popular internationally. Touching on all of that in the “Fast & Loose” cast is the goal.
SS: Last question. Aaron Judge is a free agent after the season and you’re a huge Yankees fan. How would you convince Judge and the Yankees to get that contract extension done?
SS: You’re already allergic to Judge leaving…
Mero: Yes. That’s exactly what it was. I was about to say I sneezed just because the thought of Judge leaving made my eyes tear up. Listen, pay the man his money. Like pay him whatever he wants. Back up the Brinks truck. Give him the Mike Trout deal, the Juan Soto deal. Whatever it takes. Keep this man in New York. The Yankees need him. Since Derek Jeter left, there hasn’t been a face of the franchise. I feel like every New York sports team needs a face of the franchise. And Judge is that guy. He’s not offensive. He’s not problematic. He’s marketable. He’s like Derek Jeter 2.0 bro. If you were like ‘yo Jeets, I need you in the gym 10 hours a day,’ he’d be our Judge. He hits the cover off the ball. He comes in clutch when he needs to. He’s the bright spot, always on. Even when he is in a slump, it’s like okay, when he comes out of this slump, he’s gonna come out of this slump.
So they really need to pay that guy. Like now. I’ll throw $10 in. Whatever you like Aaron, if you’re listening, cash, Venmo. You can borrow my car. Whatever it is I need to do for you to stay here, please stay here. I’m begging you. I pinned my hopes on Gary Sanchez and now he’s gone. I thought the Baby Bombers was going to happen. For years, the Core Four did it, and then the Baby Bombers broke my heart. But we’ve still got Aaron and Gleyber [Torres]. So let’s keep them together. Please.