Lester: Arlington Heights impersonator talks 'Fallon,' life after speech
Jack Aiello had been sick with a fever, so when he stumbled downstairs last Thursday, he thought he might be hallucinating.
His middle school principal had just texted his dad that Jack's idol, Jimmy Fallon, wanted the 14-year-old on "The Tonight Show."
The Aiellos, of Arlington Heights, had gotten more than 200 calls seeking interviews with Jack since the video of his impersonations of presidential candidates at his eighth-grade graduation went viral. They declined almost every request.
"We took time as a family, we sat, we prayed about what we would love to come out of this -- for Jack to have a memorable experience that would be helpful to him but not put him out on some limb," dad John Aiello says. "That's where Jack's love of impressions and Jimmy's love of impressions really stood out."
The Aiellos packed the family SUV and drove to New York City to tape a segment that was scheduled to air at 10:35 p.m. Wednesday.
NBC 5's storm coverage pre-empted the broadcast, but Fallon's show posted a video online Wednesday night. You can watch Jack's appearance here.
On the show, Jack is introduced as "Little Donald" -- Trump's running mate and a 14-year-old clone of the Republican business tycoon.
"The only person good enough to be my vice president is me," Fallon, as the elder Trump, quips.
Jack says he "couldn't believe the way I looked with all the orange makeup."
Jack's impersonations of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are also on full display during the sketch as the pair prank-call the Democratic candidates.
Jack had his own dressing room, complete with a couch, and got to snack on a sub sandwich and chocolates as he prepped for the show.
He was nervous to meet Fallon but says the comedian quickly put him at ease.
"It was so cool having a regular conversation," Jack says. "He was asking, 'How was the ride out here?' 'How'd you get selected to give your speech?'"
The whole thing went by in a blink. "I feel like I should have savored it more," Jack says.
Believe it or not
Jack tells me he's more interested in a career in politics than as a comedian. But given the toxic political climate today, the Aiellos say it's important to see the humor in things.
"During a week when a lot went wrong in our country, it's been really nice to hear that in a not mean, no-agenda way a young man brought some levity," John Aiello says.
Meanwhile, at COD
Faculty members at the College of DuPage tipped me to some announcements that are planned for early July by new President Ann Rondeau.
Rondeau has informed faculty that Joe Collins, who served as acting interim president, will be reassigned as vice president of academic affairs. Jean Kartje, who currently holds the position "has been given time to consider her options internally and externally," according to a note posted on the faculty's discussion board by Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen.
Meanwhile, the college's foundations will now report to the student affairs department to emphasize a focus on student support and scholarships. Rondeau was selected to replace Dr. Robert Breuder in May and officially begins her new role in July.
Texts from at least one friend illustrated I wasn't the only one curious about the other names considered for what is now Rosemont, which reporter Chris Placek explained was picked from a hat in the 1950s. Other finalists included Stephensville (after the late Mayor Donald Stephens), Thorndale and Scott Village, Placek tells me. While Rosemont is a nearby Chicago street name, there were also numerous rose bushes in the Rosemont area decades ago.
Naperville native Barry Howard has launched a new urban farm aimed at getting fresh produce to residents of some of Chicago's most impoverished communities. Herban Produce, 2900 W. Van Buren St., provides year-round fresh food to the Garfield Park and North Lawndale communities along with nutritional education, employment opportunities, and hands-on experience in self-sustaining, social enterprise.
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