Dying on stage is a fate many comedians live in fear of.
Poor Blobby the goldfish didn’t even get that far, minutes away from his moment in the spotlight this afternoon at Aberdeen Arts Centre.
While waiting in the wings for his part in 16-year-old Youssra Bennadji’s speech during rehearsals for tomorrow’s Tedx Aberdeen event, the pet went to the big goldfish bowl in the sky.
Addressing parts of her talk about what humans can learn from the animal kingdom to the bowl of water wasn’t quite what Youssra had planned.
But the teenager wasn’t put off her stride by the fishy fatality – soldiering on like a pro and delivering a speech belying her young years.
Youssra wants to turn love of animals into career
Youssra is about to enter sixth year at Cults Academy, and plans to study veterinary medicine at university.
She is the youngest of 10 speakers lined up to talk on a range of subjects at the Tedx event.
Her passion for the animal kingdom began at a young age, while summering in Algeria.
She had an array of exotic pets, including a tortoise and a chicken named Freckle, to play with in the warm North African nation.
Speaking to us after the final rehearsal this afternoon, Youssra told us Blobby had been “swimming happily” moments before his death caused a drama in the theatre.
She added: “He was alive in the car, there wasn’t any sign the goldfish was unwell.
“When I had him in the theatre he was swimming about happily, then people started pointing out he looked a bit… dead.”
Teen keen to take risks
Youssra and her aunt are big fans of the Ted talk phenomenon, and the teen jumped at the chance to take part in the Aberdeen event.
She added: “I sometimes put myself in strange situations, I always just say ‘yes’ to things that might seem a bit out there.
“It always pays off in the end.
“I remember the day I found out I had been selected to take part, I was doing chemistry work and I really quickly told my parents and my whole family.”
Since beginning rehearsals last week, and being surrounded by supportive fellow speakers, Youssra’s confidence has shot up.
“I’ve learned so much from everybody, and I feel like there are people here who have faith in me,” she said.
What can we learn from animals?
Youssra is captivated by the way animals think and act in complex situations.
Her thought-provoking speech will ask the 100 socially-distanced members of the audience to think about what they can learn from nature.
The lively talk, performed with considerable charisma during rehearsals, will discuss how quickly dogs can learn commands and how apes establish hierarchy.
Youssra will leave the audience wondering just how far removed they are from the animal kingdom after all.
Ted is a non-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short but powerful talks.
The “x” in Tedx indicated that the event has been independently organised by local volunteers.
In this case, it has been curated by a team from the city’s Vanguard movement.
Though tickets have already all been snapped up, the speeches will be available to view on Youtube.