It didn’t take long for the “Joker” stairs in The Bronx to go from hilarious internet meme to full-blown tourist attraction. The New York City borough is the setting of a now-iconic scene in Todd Phillips’ comic book drama in which Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck fully emerges as the Joker and maniacally dances on the stairs while Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” blasts over the soundtrack. The stairs are located off Shakespeare Avenue and have driven tourists to the area where they are posting photos while recreating Phoenix’s dance moves and poses. While “Joker” fans are loving the stairs, Bronx natives Desus and Mero most certainly are not.
During the October 21 episode of their eponymous late night talk show on Showtime, Desus and Mero devoted just over four minutes of airtime to taking down the “Joker” stairs becoming a Bronx tourist attraction. The segment, entitled “Don’t Get Robbed at the ‘Joker’ Steps in the Bronx,” began with both hosts sharing their outrage over their local stairs becoming a media sensation. As Mero said, “This shit is terrible man.”
“There is a new tourist attraction in the Bronx and it sucks. I’m outraged,” added Desus. “Who here is from the Bronx? Who here hates these steps? Who here has almost died in the winter going down these steps when they don’t shovel them? Who here stays on the Bx13 [bus] so you don’t have to get on those steps?”
Desus and Mero were baffled while they played real clips from the local news in which tourists gushed over the stairs. One man said he had goosebumps from seeing the stairs in real life. The takedown ended with the hosts showing real social media posts of “Joker” fans making fools of themselves by dancing and posing for photos on the stairs.
The popularity of the stairs among New York City tourists speaks to just how zeitgeist-breaking “Joker” has become since opening in theaters October 4. The movie has earned over $740 million worldwide and counting and could get near or even surpass the coveted $1 billion mark, a huge feat for a comic book film that is more a character study than action film. “Joker” continues to play in theaters nationwide.