05 September 2011 4:35 pm | | 18


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Nabila Ben Youssef left Tunisia in 1995 to settle in Quebec, where she became successful as a comedian.

Born in 1963 in Sfax, southern Tunisia, in a modest family, the humorist decided  to enroll at the dance academy. At the age of fifteen, she became interested in politics and joined the  Marxist- Leninist-inspired Far Left Party. She witnessed the 1984 bread riots by participating in her high school strike.  She was expelled from school for being rebellious and discovered theater.

Ben Youssef decided to move to the capital, Tunis, to be more independent, and she got a job as a postal worker while taking up her first professional roles in theater and TV. At 30, she was popular and ambitious. She traveled for the first time in her life to France and participated in the tour of “Les Troyennes,” a tragedy by Euripides. On her return, she enrolled at the Cinema Institute of Tunis to study production and met Louise Carré, the Quebecer director, who hired her as a trainee to edit her documentary about Muslim women, “My Heart Is a Witness,” jointly taking place  in Tunisia and Montreal. She flew to Canada in 1995.  She discovered Quebec and settled there. To make a living she took odd jobs.

During training in artistic production management, she successfully presented a comical monologue. She participated in the entrance examination to the school of humor of Montreal. She wrote her first show and in 2005 shot to fame with her provocatively-titled show, “An Arab and a Slut,” meant in part to counter biases about Arab women as submissive.

She wishes she could play freely in Tunisia and describes her euphoria when Ben Ali left. It was her dream to see a democratic revolution in Tunisia.

Source: Tunis-Hebdo

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