Jonathan “Tyler” Fortin
was born August 22, 1974, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Tyler was born 10 weeks premature, weighing only 2 pounds 10 ounces.
Often when Tyler does Stand Up Comedy people question him “Are you disabled or just acting disabled?” Yes, Tyler is disabled….. he has Cerebral Palsy. The same disability as Kevin Spacey’s character in The Usual Suspects. The medical definition of Cerebral Palsy is “a disorder in which muscular control and coordination are impaired, usually occurring before, during or shortly after birth”. Cerebral Palsy effects Tyler’s speech as well as the muscles on the right side of his body.
Originally diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 15 months old, his prognosis was dim. The doctors held little hope that Tyler
would ever walk or talk. Tyler endured nine surgeries, while also braving many years of physical, occupational and speech therapy. These treatments helped reroute information from the damaged section to an unused area of Tyler’s brain.; Somewhat like flying from Vancouver to Los Angeles most people take the fastest, smoothest, direct route. While Tyler has to take the longer rougher route….. Vancouver via Houston to Los Angeles. Tyler took his first step at three years old. Acquiring speech was a longer process, taking five years to develop. Tyler’s positive attitude, determination, and zest for life have gotten him to the same and even if it has required a little longer time to get there.
Tyler was smitten with performing by the tender age of four when he played a nonspeaking Superman role during a pre-school family night. Through the persistence of his mom, Jennifer, Tyler was one of the first disabled students fully integrated into the regular school system, in British Columbia. Tyler appeared in elementary school productions, as a Prince as well as one of the Wise Men. In Canada, by the 8th grade, all students are required to study French as a second language. Speaking French for Tyler was out of the question, as speaking English already held enough challenges. Tyler was transferred into Drama, where coincidentally, he got his first taste of Stand-Up Comedy. During halftime at a basketball game, Tyler, now in 9th grade, performed a lip sink to “Wild Thing” by Ton Loc. Tyler soon discovered the way to avoid being picked on, was to be comical and entertaining. With his impressions of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, Tyler made the difficult appear effortless as he won the hearts of many friends.
Theatre Terrific, a Vancouver based Theatre Company for Disabled actors, became part of Tyler’s life during his early teens. Theatre Terrific gave Tyler the chance to perform on stage as an “Actor” not as just an “Actor with a Disability”. While with Theatre Terrific, Tyler experienced performing at local shopping malls, the 1992 Vancouver Fringe Festival and Theatre Terrific’s School Tours. Tyler got a chance to witness British Columbia vast size, as he traveled throughout the province with Theatre Terrific’s School Tours. Tyler performed in the High School Tour “Good Looking Friends” as well as the Elementary School Tour “Ring of Fire”. Both these productions were presented with the prestigious Jessie Award, while Tyler was presented with the realization that performing was his life!
Tyler started to do background work in Vancouver’s “Hollywood North” Film Industry. Tyler has the gift for making the impossible achievable, by entering the film industry he took his first real step to attaining his “dream of fame !”. Tyler thrives on being on a film set, taking pleasure from both the production and the performing.Tyler has had the opportunity of working with many greats: Jim Varney , yes, “Ernest”, Joan Rivers, Matthew Fox and Donald Sutherland. He has also performed with many other very talented individuals, whose names are not yet recognizable.
Tyler enjoys acting, but typecasting has limited the roles he plays. The freedom to be himself is one reason why Tyler began Stand-Up Comedy, in May of 1997. Tyler is introduced on stage as an actor and comedian, not as a “Disabled Comedian”. Tyler has received adverse reactions from some audiences, where they feel he is portraying a disabled comedian making fun of the disabled. Tyler has the amazing ability to turn an audience around. To make them feel totally comfortable, as he “breaks down the stereotypes of the disabled, by getting the audience to laugh with him….. not at him !”.
Tyler is also an accomplished Public Speaker. Tyler has been part of a public awareness program with United Way, where he speaks to many large companies and corporations on behalf of the Children’s Centre for Ability. Tyler derives satisfaction from being able to support the centre where he received his childhood therapy. As well as speaking to teens and teachers; about growing up with a disability and the challenges he faced during school.
Tyler’s warm personality together with his passion for life is an inspiration to all that meet him!