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Bronx natives Desus & Mero have a laugh at your new Joker stairs obsession

Desus Nice, The Kid Mero
Screenshot: Desus & Mero

While Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have become de facto tourism spokespeople for their home borough of the Bronx, they’re not here to whitewash the grittiness out of their New York turf. Make that “clown-white” the grit out, as, on Monday’s Desus & Mero, the pair mocked the elevation of one of the most dreary and arduous landmarks of their youthful memories into America’s newest movie-spawned Instagram fad.

“There is a new tourist attraction in the Bronx, and it sucks!,” pronounced Nice, as he and his partner ran down all the reasons why unwary looky-loos should think twice before recreating Joaquin Phoenix’s perversely triumphant Joker dance on the steep, treacherous cement stairs on the corner of Shakespeare and Jerome Avenues. For one thing, as Nice commiserated with fellow Bronx denizens in the audience, the city never shovels those goddamned things, so any winter photo opportunities are destined to end with a trip to the emergency room, at best. For another, as Mero put it, “You can’t shoot a movie where I once smoked angel dust,” and agreed with Nice that anyone fantasizing about capping off their Joker experience with a romantic encounter wouldn’t be alone. “People have sex on those stairs all the time, dog,” Nice explained, “It ain’t sexy.”

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But it was the increase in outsider foot traffic that the pair had the most fun with, showing news clips of (largely white, male) tourists waxing anti-heroic about the forbiddingly long and dingy steps’ new place in their Joker-worshipping hearts. Responding to a clip of one accented young man’s excitement to “feel what he feels,” concerning Joaquin’s character’s budding embodiment of thwarted white male entitlement and rage, Mero stated flatly, “No you do not—you’re gonna feel Julio’s boot in the back of your back, and you flying down the stairs unconrollably.” Showing further footage of film fans taking dancing selfies while skeptical Bronx residents make their arduous daily hike up and down what looks to be about a million stone steps, Mero gave his best Joker laugh at one Joker fanatic visitor’s goosebumps. “This guy came up to me, no mask on!,” Mero impersonated how he imagined most of such interactions going, “Gun right in my ribs . . . it was an amazing experience!”

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.