When I got a hold of Lori Mae Hernandez, she was on her way to Disneyland. The trip to the happiest place on earth was a bit of a celebration for the 13-year-old from California: the night before, she had received a standing ovation for slaying Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during her stand-up set on America's Got Talent. In a bright red cardigan, blue dress, and yellow low-top Converses, Lori Mae set the Orange Wonder up while joking about her qualifications as a babysitter.
"My only qualification to be a babysitter is that I used to be a baby," she remarked with the deadpan wit of Amy Schumer. "That's crazy! That's like saying, 'Hey, you're sick a lot, you wanna be my doctor?'" Then came the hammer: "Or 'Weren't you the host of a reality show? You want to be President of the United States?'"
The crowd went wild; Simon Cowell looked bemused; the smile on Howie Mandel's face was brighter than the glare from his bald head, for once. A star was born.
So of course Lori Mae deserved a trip to Disneyland—on a night that featured Stephen Colbert literally drawing a swastika to represent Donald Trump, she had the best burn of them all. But trust me, despite taking the belt for America's funniest 13-year-old, Lori Mae hasn't let anything get to her head. She mostly just can't believe any of this has happened—though, the shock from this newfound fame didn't keep her from burying me during our phone conversation.
So what does this feel like?
It feels crazy. I feel like I’m still shaking.
Has anyone said anything to you since last night? What's the response been like?
[Laughs.] Well, uh, yes. It's been crazy because I do YouTube too—a lot of YouTube—and there's like, this little bell on the computer for every time I get a new subscriber.
And it's blowing up?
Yes. It's craaazy to think this is happening!
When you came up with the Donald Trump joke, were you at all nervous to say it on national TV?
Actually, I don't know. I just thought, "Maybe it will get a response," and it has. I knew people would laugh and everything, but I didn't [expect] all this backlash. I thought there'd be some, but not this much. Because I didn't even say his name!
So wait—people are actually mad at you?
I mean, yeah. Just a little bit. People have also been very nice about defending me too.
That's kind of ridiculous. What do you really think about Donald Trump.
He's just the Republican nomination. I can't even vote, but if I could, there'd be some changes. Like, we'd have to make it so that the kid's menu could legally include teens. In fact, why stop there? Let me get a happy face pancake and some crayons!
I don't think that's on Trump's platform.
America's smart, and I know whoever the voters pick to be our next president, she'll do great.
I see what you did there. So what do you think about Trump trying to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico?
I don't really know anything about anything—I don't know if I can answer that.
That's totally okay.
I mean, I'm thirteen.
[Laughs.] That's fair. But still, I know when I was 13, I wasn't dropping crazy zingers on George W. Bush. Where does all your political insight come from?
Well, the news. And late night.
Who's your favorite late night host?
They're all pretty equal. I like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers sometimes.
So you've just been taking notes from those guys?
Yeah, they seem close to America right now. I don't really remember what they talked about before the election.
Well, it does seem like this election has lasted fifty years.
Yeah! Is there a record for the longest election? I haven't been around many elections in my life.
Aside from the late night guys, who are some of your other comedy heroes?
I've got my list: Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Martin. Even Don Rickles.
How does a 13-year-old girl learn about Don Rickles?
There's this little thing called the internet that has every single thing in the world.
OK—I deserve that. We'll be seeing more of you on America's Got Talent, right?
Yes, you are!
Can you give us a little preview? Any more Trump jokes?
I got nothing for you.
You're already pretty good at dodging questions.
Yeah, I've had some practice.