It was a "quarter-life crisis" that proved the impetus for Ayesha Hazarika's career in comedy. "I'd wake up in the middle of the night sweating, thinking about my future, worrying that I'd get stuck in a rut and that nothing would ever change in my life, " she remembers. At the time Hazarika was a government spin doctor in Whitehall. Four years on, the 29-year-old second-generation Indian, originally from Bellshill, is being tipped for stardom as a comedian unafraid to tackle politics, race and religion.

Recently named young achiever of the year at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Hazarika still leads a double life . . . by day she is a business co-ordinator with EMI in London, while at night she does stand-up espousing her observations on bleak Glasgow estates and her experiences of the juxtaposition of two cultures.

"I've been gigging everywhere: country pubs, a mosque in Leicester, and some really remote places where I've been the only ethnic minority within a 100-mile radius, " she says. "I walk on stage and sometimes sense a tension. People seem confused and are probably thinking, Why is there a small brown woman standing there?'" Her mother and father could ask the same thing. The daughter of a GP, Hazarika grew up in Lanarkshire, went to the private girls' school Laurel Bank in Glasgow, and had a strict Muslim home life. Her parents pushed her to pursue an academic career, but she had other things on her mind. "I studied law at Hull University before heading to London to study journalism and politics, " she says.

"Then I started as a press officer with the government, but I wanted to do something different.

"People always said I was funny, so I did a ten-week part-time course in stand-up comedy after a friend saw an advert in a newspaper." It was obviously worthwhile. As well as the stand-up appearances, she has started cropping up on television and radio in programmes including Children in Need and the Fred MacAulay show.

Despite enduring some unsavoury experiences and the occasional racist heckler, Hazarika says being a female Muslim comedian from the west of Scotland can work to her advantage. "Who I am makes people pay attention, " she says. "After shows I now get told things like, I didn't think a woman could be funny.' And anyway, after living in places like Coatbridge and Hamilton I can handle pretty much anything."

Ayesha Hazarika appears with Zoe Lyons in Two Birds Go into a Bar, at the City Cafe as part of the Edinburgh Fringe, August 7 to 28.