The 2016 presidential election just might go down in history as the longest and most contentious U.S. election season ever, but leave it to a kid to remind us that sometimes, all you can do is laugh about it.
And this week, those laughs are brought to you by Jack Aiello — a graduating 8th grader from Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, who recently brought the house down in his graduation speech with spot-on impersonations of several 2016 presidential candidates.
Speaking as Clinton, he first thanked the teachers for being “our champions.” As he explained: “They’ve given us the skills to get us through sixth grade, and through seventh grade, and eighth grade, and now we’re going to take those skills and apply them to high school!” And speaking as Trump soon after, he said, “Congratulations, you are now getting to hear a speech from the magnificent Donald Trump.”
But Jack really hit it out of the park with his Bernie Sanders impression. Speaking as Sanders, Jack praised the school for its cinnamon rolls, calling them the best he’s ever tasted. Of course, Sanders — er, I mean, Jack Aiello — has some suggestions. “I do have one improvement for them, though,” he declared. “We need to make them free. Why should students have to pay for their own cinnamon rolls? Doesn’t make any sense. What we need is a cinnamon roll revolution!”
The 14-year-old even impersonated Ted Cruz, who apparently found the speech hilarious:
Politics is a touchy subject under the best of circumstances, but as we all know by now, this presidential election is particularly volatile. So when Thomas Middle School’s principal Brian Kaye caught wind that one of the speeches would include presidential candidate impersonations, he was understandably nervous. As Kaye later told the Arlington Heights Post, he was mostly worried the presentation might “offend some audience members’ political sensibilities.”
But in the end, Kaye was determined to avoid censoring any of the four winning graduation speeches, and let Jack take the floor with his monologue.
While Jack might have taken the country by surprise with his shockingly accurate impersonations, his parents say that they weren’t surprised at all when he announced that he wanted to do the speech as a political spoof, telling NBC Chicago that impersonations have kind of been his thing for a while — and so has politics.
“He’s been doing [impersonations] since he was very young — family members, teachers, he even makes up his own silly voices and he’s been doing that for a very long time,” his mom, Carla Aiello, told NBC. “And then with the election, he watches the news clips and he just absorbs everything.”
Given the way he rocked his 8th grade graduation speech last week, you should probably remember the name Jack Aiello because clearly, this kid is going places — whether it’s Hollywood, Washington, D.C., or both. (In fact, his parents say that one of his dreams is to meet his idol, Dana Carvey.)
While a career in politics or comedy seems like a safe bet given that 14-year-old Jack is killing it at public speaking — something many adults can’t even master — I’d wager that he’s going to be a wild success at whatever he does. And fortunately, because I just so happen to live in the same town as this mighty phenom, maybe I’ll even be able to snag an autograph before Jack Aiello makes it big on Saturday Night Live. (Or becomes the president in 2056.)