Within minutes of Dr Zara Gladman posting her latest very funny TikTok video a bestiary of insecure men gathers to mock. “Some of the pushback I get is so predictable,” she says. “And it’s always blokes saying that it isn’t funny or specifically commenting about my hair.

“When I’m doing these videos I’m not spending hours grooming myself. Usually they’re made midweek after work when I’m a bit tired. So, I’m not going to be brushing my hair just for the sake of my video.

“But I’ll get men commenting on my fringe and trying to be funny by mentioning kitchen scissors. It just seems to trigger them, but it’s so boring. Can they not come up with something more interesting or original to insult me with?”

“There’s an arrogance there. I see stuff online that I don’t consider to be funny but I’d never go to the extent at leaving a comment asking if this supposed to be funny.”

I tell her that it’s usually rooted in men being threatened by women who are better at doing something they’d thought was their exclusive domain. It happens in newspapers too.

Dr Gladman has entered that bracket I suppose we must now call ‘the internet phenomenon”. Yet to label her work as such risks denigrating it. It suggests something fleeting, insubstantial and niche that probably wouldn’t cut it on a live stage. But this is in the best traditions of all good comedy that’s built to last: wry, clever and featuring identifiable characters who live and walk among us.

Her West End Mum character captured a massive online audience in the immediate post-lockdown era when we were all in need of a laugh and someone who we felt we recognised.

There she is in her mum’s fur jacket sashaying and swigging around Glasgow’s west end, one of those fetching but formidable ladies who join committees, marry adroitly and eat in patisseries. To the tune of the Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls she brings us this: “I’m a west end mum, I didn’t choose this life. Met my husband at the Play, a Pie and a Pint.”    

She now has an entire back catalogue of them: west end mum meets Morningside mum; west end mum meets washing machine repair man; west end mum ventures south of the Clyde.

Read more: Glasgow: Is there hope for West End?

Dr Zara Gladman isn’t quite an overnight success though. She’s a research scientist who now specialises in public engagement for Glasgow University. “In my last year doing a PhD I was getting very positive reactions from my conference presentations and was invited to participate in the Bright Club, where scientists and researchers get to do stand-up comedy about their specialist subjects. I was writing up at the time so that was a good procrastination activity.

“I secured some funding from Glasgow University to start one in Glasgow. So, I ran a comedy night for researchers at The Admiral and The Stand for a few years. I’ve been dipping in to comedy for years but never really given it my full attention and then gave it up entirely as it was taking up so much of my time.

“I worked in London before getting a job at the Science Festival. Now I’m working with researchers to make their work more accessible to the public. It’s basically being a scientist without actually having to do much science.”

Last week she posted another that went viral about sharing a flat with a Scottish newsreader who can only converse in that bizarre, gloomy monotone that our broadcast brethren are all required to adopt when reading their bulletins: a sort of Received Pronunciation for funeral directors.

She tells me it was inspired by a conversation with a friend. Many journalists both print and media have reacted to it. “It’s mad. I’d genuinely love to know where that delivery originated. You could do an entire PhD on it. It’s so bizarre.”

We meet in, well … a patisserie, but this one’s in Partick and so we get down to that age-old conversation starter: does the west end include this part of the Dumbarton Road? It works in both directions. You have estate agents eager to add a zero to their property by saying it’s in the “much-sought-after G12 neighbourhood”. Or affluent radicals eager to maintain their street cred who’ll insist their Hyndland abode is really Partick or that Queen Margaret Drive is in Maryhill. “Who cares,” she says, “but this place is definitely edgier.”

She’s just announced a live stand-up gig – on March 28th at the Oran Mor - featuring some of the characters from her videos. It sells out in 48 hours. Last night she called to tell me she’s added a second night on the 26th. “I’ve done some stand-up as myself, but this will be the first to feature some of the characters on my videos,” she says. It too is destined to be sold out.

We discuss the sexism and misogyny that female comedians still face - even on gentle old Facebook where people post inspirational quotes and pictures of their pets and dinner. “Some of them talk about my nose. It seems so unhinged. And then you look at their Facebook profiles and there are snaps of them and their wives and children with stuff like “me and my angels”. Or sharing humanitarian stuff and “lest we forget”. I’d love to see them at their computers posting this poison while their wives are saying: ‘there’s your dinner darling.’” There’s got to be a sketch in it.

“I’m quite selective about the nights I do. I won’t do a Saturday night at some random club where it’s more likely to be sexist and have that toxic vibe. But there are some lovely nights like the Drygate in the east end and Crossmylaff at the Glad Café on southside.

“They’re more likely to book women and gay people and the crowds are very encouraging and supportive.

“I’ve been at nights where there has been the most sexist, homophobic ableist stuff and people are laughing their heads off. If clubs are rewarding them by booking them then maybe that’s an issue. It’s still very male-dominated and all of comedy is still looked at through a straight, white male lens. Men still consider themselves to be the authority on what’s funny. But why?

“It’s basic logic that if you have more women doing stand-up material then it’s going to be more relatable to other women. Isn’t it better to have a comedy night where there are men, women; all genders and all ethnicities? It makes for a more interesting night. Rather than have five blokes all telling jokes about w***ing.”

This comes up in discussions she’s had with other female comedians. There’s a network of shared intelligence about venues to avoid; people to avoid; nights to avoid.  

I tell her about my Frankie Boyle dilemma and that time he told a joke about people with Downs Syndrome. And how because I think he’s a genius I still try to defend him. Maybe he was highlighting our own hypocrisy over attitudes to disability; maybe he was conveying something about not marginalising minorities by including them among all those groups he regularly targets. Who knows … and, well, it’s comedy where anything goes and someone should be getting offended.

“I suppose it’s that issue about punching up or punching down,” she says. And the wisdom of using a platform to mock vulnerable groups. I wonder if he regrets that now?  But people and times change, a lot, don’t they,” she says. “I think Frankie has changed a lot. I love his political commentary and I think he’s become more reflective. I saw him doing a monologue about women which was very funny and also very sensitive. We all have to change and there are some things we’ve all said several years ago we probably regret.”

She tells me of a male comedian friend who now considered a lot of his old material to have been misogynist and sexist “just like a lot of blokes when they start off. And really homophobic stuff too,” she adds.

“But years down the line he has a girlfriend who called him out on a lot of it and he became much more reflective and now he just doesn’t do it. He took full accountability for it; put his hands up and said: that was wrong. And he’s no less funny for it. But you can’t just shut people down. You have to give them space to change.”

And yet there are still plenty of blokes who are threatened by the diversity challenge. There’s still a tendency among some to suggest that women or disabled people are only getting a platform on account of playing the diversity card. In the end though, they still have to be funny I tell her about seeing one lad with an obvious disability who had the place rolling. He was just a funny, smart guy, disabled or not.

“You might get a sympathy platform, but you still have to be funny,” she says, “or people just won’t turn up the next time you’re on. There also has to be a recognition that there are different audiences. The people who stop me in the street are usually women or gay men. So, that’s maybe my audience and I’m totally cool with that. That’s a great audience; why should straight men be threatened by that?”

And yet, as her followers on social media have swollen and her comedy career has blossomed she too feels the risk of one day being cancelled. “You’re always aware of that risk of being cancelled or being monstered on social media for saying the wrong thing, or overstepping other people’s taste boundaries.

“It scares me a little bit as I get more followers; that I’ll just come out and say something insane. And I know I probably will at some point. Maybe it depends though, on who you’re upsetting and there are certainly some people I don’t mind upsetting.”

A young female assistant arrives to take our order. She approaches my companion shyly. “I just want to tell you that your videos are brilliant,” she says. “Me and my friends all love them.” Ms Gladman beams, but takes the compliment graciously.

In my local tavern later that night, I tell my friends I’ve been interviewing yon TikTok West End mum. In the last few months I’ve interviewed political leaders; business giants and television darlings. On each occasion they’ve elicited a summary response from the boys: “weapon”, “banger”, “roaster”. But they’re all eager to know about Zara Gladman. “Do you think she’d come and join us for a drink?” 

She’ll sell out that second show at the Oran Mor no danger whatsoever.