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Why Sofia Thinks “Fearless” Ahren Belisle Could Be the First Stand-Up to Win AGT

Ahren Belisle, a comedian with cerebral palsy, performed a nonverbal comedy routine that had the Judges laughing on America's Got Talent.


By Joe Dziemianowicz

One way comics get laughs is by using themselves as material. On America’s Got Talent, airing Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC, Ahren Belisle gave a hilarious lesson in how it’s done.

Who Is Ahren Belisle?

Ahren Belisle performs during Season 18 Episode 1 of America's Got Talent

How to Watch

Watch the Season 19 premiere of America’s Got Talent Tuesday, May 28 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

The 28-year-old from Canada introduced himself to a national audience as a mute stand-up comedian who uses his phone to deliver jokes. As he has cerebral palsy, he shares the stage with his adorable service dog, Al.

Early into the Act that had Judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel doing double takes and cracking up, Belisle addressed “the elephant in the room”: as in, he can’t speak, using a phone app to turn text into speech instead, and he has movement issues.

RELATED: Simon Cowell Says This Is 'No Question' the Most Successful AGT Contestant

He explained that he has cerebral palsy. CP, as it’s known, refers to a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or childhood and affect body movement and muscle coordination.

Symptoms vary, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

How Ahren Belisle Does Comedy

Belisle has a day job as a software engineer. Asked by Mandel about what got him into comedy, Belisle traced his comic roots to Portugal.

I ended up going to a comedy show there and making all the comics laugh,” he said. “They convinced me to try it.”

Since comedy depends on timing, Mandel wondered what Belisle’s process was. Belisle took his own sweet time with the text-to-voice app, then said: “Please hold while the operator types his response.”

That got big laughs.

“Interestingly enough,” Belisle continued, “the silence while I type just builds tension during a set and I think people enjoy watching me laugh at my own joke that I’m writing.”

RELATED: Simon Cowell Says Niall Horan Becoming a Coach on The Voice Is a "Weird, Full Circle-y Thing"

Don’t even think about taunting Belisle, who issued a just-for-fun warning: “You should also know that if you heckle me, my service dog is trained to go for the vocal cords.” 

Ahren Belisle’s AGT Act

Like many comics, Belisle can read an audience. 

"Most of you look super confused right now,” he zinged. “I know what you’re all thinking, ‘Who ordered Stephen Hawking off of wish.com?’” 

He went on to note that while the late English physicist who used a wheelchair “might be smarter than me, I would beat him in a race. Unless the race is downhill, then I’m screwed.”

“We also have different conditions,” he continued. “He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — and I am Canadian. Specifically, I’m half French on my left side. I also have a brain muscle disability called cerebral palsy but being French is way worse than a brain disability.”

Audience members and Judges alike laughed and looked gobsmacked.

AGT Judges react to Ahren Belisle

The four AGT Judges were impressed.

Simon Cowell: “Funny, fearless, your dog is beautiful. It was just a great, great, great audition. This, I think, is going to change your life.”

Sofia Vergara: “You were funny, making fun of yourself. Your energy, you're having such a good time out there. I hope that you are the one comedian that finally wins AGT."

Heidi Klum: “I love how you found your way. You’re very clever. You’re cheeky and you're really, really funny. I mean we were all laughing. Fantastic.”

Howie Mandel: “I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for one year because you seem to have a grasp of timing and humor. You opened up the conversation.” After praising Belisle’s “humanity and originality,” he predicted that he’d be a full-time performer.

When Judges cast their votes, it was a four-way Yes fest!

For more surprising entertainment, tune into America’s Got Talent, airing Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC, and streaming the following day on Peacock.