If Desus Nice and The Kid Mero were looking to make some noise with the debut episode of their new late-night series on Showtime, they could not have landed a better first guest than the congresswoman who represents their native Bronx: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or “The Notorious AOC” as they introduced her.
The shinier Showtime version of Desus & Mero, which previously aired on Viceland, kicked off its premiere Thursday night with a career day sketch that found a group of grade school kids wondering if they were “a little too ghetto to be on TV.”
It was a proper introduction for those who may be unfamiliar with the duo. They went on to make jokes about former President Obama’s recent town hall event and other recent news stories, leaving the Trump material to their largely white late-night competition.
The pair also shared their take on this coming weekend’s Oscars, including the Best Picture-nominated Green Book—or “Friday with racism”—complete with a full-on trailer parody of the film’s “white savior” narrative called “The Greenest Book.”
But the energy on stage ratcheted up a notch when Ocasio-Cortez joined them to chants of “AOC! AOC!”
The congresswoman admitted that she would probably be teaching high school somewhere right now if Trump had never been elected president. “But times of great challenge can also bring out the best in people too,” she said. “So I think that’s what we’re really seeing right now.”
Asked if all the Twitter trolling she receives has made her regret getting into politics, Ocasio-Cortez said, “It is heavy. But in a weird way, that stuff is validation that you’re doing something real.”
“Because if you’re just flying under the radar, just trying to get your check, not rock the boat, then what’s the point of being in politics?” she asked. “What is the point of doing things if you’re just trying to maintain the status quo that doesn’t help people?” Ocasio-Cortez called all the memes she gets thrown at her in her timeline “so weak,” wondering, “How do you have a computer that runs both Windows ‘95 and Twitter at the same time?”
Later, she responded to those people—including the president—who think her Green New Deal would mean they could no longer eat beef. While that fear may be overblown, Ocasio-Cortez said that addressing factory farming needs to be part of the climate change solution, adding, “maybe we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
“Please look straight into the camera and explain the tax shit for the dumb motherfuckers who keep saying, ‘If I make a million dollars, she’s going to take 70 million dollars away from me!’” Mero implored the congresswoman.
Explaining her proposed 70 percent marginal tax rate, Ocasio-Cortez said, “If you make more than $10 million in one year, which is a pretty good year, your 10 millionth and one dollar gets taxed at 70 percent.”
Despite not being a multimillionaire, Desus wasn’t quite convinced, so she asked him, “Isn’t $10 million enough? Like, when does it stop? At what point is it immoral that we’re building Jeff Bezos a helipad when we have the most amount of homeless people in New York City?”
From there, they cut to a field piece the hosts taped a few weeks ago with Ocasio-Cortez in her Washington, D.C. office. “This is bigger than my apartment,” she told them, before inviting her colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to join them.
They even got Tlaib to open up more than she has before about the controversy surrounding her use of the word “motherfucker” in reference to Trump. Where she’s from in Detroit, she told them, it’s basically like saying “that guy.”
“The double standard in that is that ‘that guy’ never gets in trouble for all of the boo-boo words he uses,” Omar said. “I mean, I think we have a beef with almost everyone here, because there’s a lack of courage,” she added. “And it seems like we’re all radical because we deeply care about the people we represent and we want to throw down for them.”
“Keeping it real with people is like this frowned-upon thing,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “And so we’re just doing it anyway. Because it’s too much work for us not to.”
Before they left, Desus and Mero decorated the office with giant cutout heads of themselves along with Bronx natives Cardi B and Derek Jeter. She loved it.