To celebrate Presidents’ Day, we caught up with a wise leader of the YouTube generation – Kid President!
Though American law prohibits Robby Novak from running for President of the United States for another quarter-century – a little age-requirement glitch in the nation’s Constitution; Novak is 11 the YouTube sensation is, nevertheless, taking it to the streets, stumping for “old-fashioned” ideas and values like, you know, love, kindness, generosity, compassion, curiosity, and the usefulness of play. Best-known as Kid President, a moniker bestowed upon him by older brother Brad Montague via a series of wildly popular YouTube videos, Novak is effervescent, soulful, giddy, and occasionally profound, serving up viral nuggets that overflow with slapstick comedy, words of wisdom, break-dancing, and simple advice on how to make the world a more wonderful place. (Hint: it starts with you!)
To “cast your vote” for Kid President, who transcends party lines and has gathered more viewers of his YouTube clips than voters in the last Presidential election, check out his “Letter To A Person On Their First Day:
Last summer, Discovery Kids aired Novak’s Kid President: Declaration of Awesome TV series, which combined his Will Rogers-style aphorisms with celebrity cameos (where else are you going to get First Lady Michelle Obama, Sesame Street’s Grover, and Nic Cage?), while HarperCollins recently published Novak’s first tome, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome (written with Montague).
Despite suffering with the very rare disease osteogenesis imperfecta, which brittles Novak’s bones and has led to more than 70 breaks in his short lifetime, Kid President is radiant, enchanting, and a whole lot of fun. Novak’s too young to be the father of our country (besides George Washington kind of has that all tied up), but he’s definitely got what it takes to lead us to a freer world. We’re grateful for that.
You’re still roughly 25 years from being able to run for President of the United States, but if you were Commander in Chief today, what are the three things you would take care of first?
Kid President: There are really funny ideas from our book. Like, we want to live in a world with more high-fives. My favorite is the velociraptor high-five. I tried to do it with Weird Al. It was… awkward. (Laughs) Also, go help somebody who is younger than you. Being a person is hard, so if we all helped someone younger than us, that would be awesome. Just give the world a reason to dance. Dancing and the (pro-wrestling outfit) WWE are two of my favorite things.
The world is facing so many “grown-up” problems these days: poverty, unemployment, racial inequality, gender inequality, war. How can we “fix” these problems?
Brad Montague: I’ll take this one! Kids have a lot more power to make the world better than people might think. For Socktober, where we encouraged people to collect and donate socks to their local homeless shelters, many kids took the initiative to start their own sock drives. We received so many emails, pictures, and videos of kids working to help out those in need. That’s really cool!
How has your life changed since the first Kid President video went viral two years ago? What was life like before the video exploded and what’s it like now?
Brad: It’s so cool to see how many people let us know how much one of our funny videos has inspired them. We know people can change the world! But it’s just us trying to make cool stuff as always. We’re just so happy more people get to see it!
I would imagine you’ve got a dollar or two in your pocket these days. Do you get an allowance, or do you get to spend your whole paycheck?
Kid President: I’ve got this one! These suits ain’t cheap!
In your most popular video, you reference the poet Robert Frost. Do you have any other great wisdom from poetry? Do you have a favorite poet or poem?
Kid President: I don’t have a favorite line, but one of my favorite parts of the Kid President Pep Talk is “What will be your Space Jam?”
You’ve gathered some interesting bits of wisdom and advice along the way from people like President Obama, Gene Simmons, Beyonce, and Kevin Costner. What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Brad: One of our ideas from our book is to encourage people to look backwards and forwards. We’ve been able to talk with some really cool people like Ndaba Mandela. He is the grandson of Nelson Mandela. He had some really cool things to say about learning from those who came before him, but also to not forget about dreaming about what great things will happen next.
You have a pretty serious health condition, but that doesn’t seem to slow you down. What’s the secret there?
Kid President: Osteogenesis imperfecta just means that I can break sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still do awesome things. Sometimes I have a cast, sometimes I don’t. But I can always dance! You just need to remember: You were born for a reason and you have a purpose – to be awesome and to do awesome things. And you are more capable than you know.
If you could have any meal delivered to your doorstep right this second, what would it be and why?Kid President: Sushi. Shrimp. CHEESECAKE!
If you could have the answer to any question, what would you ask?
Kid President: How can we make the world more awesome?
If you could be doing anything you want right now – besides answering these silly questions – what would it be?
Kid President: Surfing. Or playing soccer.
In your book, you share some ideas for how to make the world a better place. What are three of those ideas? We’d like to get started now, if you don’t mind.
Kid President: #22 Let’s live in a world with fewer selfies and more otherpeoplies. #59 Throw a parade, or celebrate the people around you. #65 Cat Caroling – because we like to meow the words to our favorite songs. (Laughs) So go door-to-door and surprise your neighbors with specially selected cat carols. Is it strange? Yes. Is it awesome? Yes.
In your videos, you often mention that adults get sad or overwhelmed because they’ve chosen boring lives for themselves. What are three boring things about adults, and three ways they can “get better”?
Kid President: They don’t dance enough – but they can dance more! They fight too much – but they can fight less. And they should treat everyone like it’s their birthday.
You are a really incredible dancer! What’s your jam – the one song that is impossible for you to resist?
Kid President: My jam? Bruno Mars is my jam.
How can we dance better?
Kid President: It’s easy! Just close your eyes – and shake!
This is an important one: What’s the best way to eat your favorite food, a corn dog?
Kid President: You just eat it how you like it! And make sure to share a bunch of it with your friends.
What else can you tell us about your book?
Kid President: It has 100 ideas of things you can do to make the world more awesome. #70 is dress up like superheroes and do someone’s yard work. How cool is that? You can be an everyday superhero. Everybody can!