Glasgow Comedy Festival review: Zara Gladman and Friends, Oran Mor, Glasgow

On the evidence of this performance, character comedian Zara Gladman won’t be confined to Glasgow’s West End for much longer, writes Paul Whitelaw

Zara Gladman and Friends, Oran Mor, Glasgow ***

TikTok comic Zara Gladman is best known – so far – as her alter ego Aileen, a keenly-observed parody of those rich, snobby, pretentious women who populate the West End of Glasgow. Prosecco O’ Clock is always on the horizon for Aileen, who enjoys nothing more than boasting about her perfect life and family.

A funny character, a recognisable archetype, but she’s not all Gladman has to offer. Far from it. Her sold-out Glasgow Comedy Festival debut is a mostly enjoyable showcase for her versatility. Aileen, of course, bookends the show. The middle section plays host to Gladman as characters such as Calum, an unsuccessful singer-songwriter with a soul patch who regards himself as quite the ladies’ man. This character has potential, but at the moment he’s basically a thumbnail sketch; I don’t doubt that Gladman will flesh him out eventually.

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Her various costume changes are covered by pre-recorded videos, which play to her strengths as a sharp sketch comedian. This is where she gets her biggest laughs, with spoof adverts including a heartfelt appeal on behalf of buy-to-let landlords, an employment agency specialising in rude vegan waiters, and best of all her absolutely spot-on impression of absurdly mannered Scottish TV newsreaders.

We’re also treated to around 15 minutes of Gladman as her likeable “ageing millennial” self performing some comedy songs. She acknowledges that audiences usually tense up whenever comedians reach for a guitar, but her songs are pretty good. I particularly enjoyed her self-deprecating ode to collecting ceramics, pointlessly.

Gladman’s talent and promise are self-evident. Granted, on stage her skill as a performer papers over some occasionally quite weak and obvious material, but it’s early days, and she’ll improve. She won’t be confined to Glasgow’s glittering West End for much longer.