She might be well-known for her wicked one-liners. But on this occasion, Susan Calman isn’t joking.
The Glaswegian stand-up star is considering the things that make her most proud of her home city, and the punchlines are momentarily put on hold.
“Glaswegians are the friendliest people you’ll meet,” she insists.
“They’ll chat to you. It’s a warm and beautiful place. I’ve traveled to many countries and I work all around the UK, but in my opinion it’s one of the greatest cities in the entire world!”
She’s not the only one who believes it.
This year Glasgow was voted the world’s friendliest city in a Rough Guides survey, and also earned a spot on the 100 ‘Best Cities’ in the world list, with just two other UK cities included in the rankings.
And here’s why; Restaurants springing up across Glasgow’s lively West End have been quietly helping Scotland’s largest city earn a reputation as a culinary capital of Europe.
It’s a music-lovers dream too. In August 2008 it was named the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, and usually hosts around 130 live events each week covering contemporary to classical, club nights to Celtic folk.
International chart-toppers have headed to the 14,000-seat SSE Hydro Arena.
“Things have changed,” adds Susan, 47. “It’s a very diverse place.
“Obviously really beautiful – there are lots of parks – but there’s also a very vibrant cultural scene here as well. It’s a brilliant combination; you can get away into the countryside or, if you want to, you can be right in the middle of the action.”
And getting to the action is quicker – and cheaper – than you might think.
Catch one of TransPennine Express’ three direct daily services from Manchester Piccadilly, and you’ll be stepping off at Glasgow’s Central station in just over three hours
With single fares available from just £14.80, that means extra cash to splash in the UK’s second largest retail center outside of London.
Or, as Susan recommends, in the pubs and restaurants of Finnieston’s Argyle Street. It’s also known as the city’s ‘foodie quarter’ and one of Europe’s hippest neighbourhoods.
“Glasgow’s had a huge resurgence of brilliant restaurants and really cool bars.
“Finnieston is the culinary hub of the city, there are some really exceptional bars and restaurants there,” explains Susan.
Then of course, there’s the comedy. Having left a career as a lawyer over 15 years ago, it was Glasgow’s stand-up circuit where she trained as a performer, before rising to become one of Britain’s best-loved comedians.
As well as her stand-up tours, Susan is now a regular panellist on TV shows including Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week and QI.
She appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017 and hosted The Great British Menu on BBC2 in 2020.
And Glasgow, says Susan, is comedy central.
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“There’s a club called The Stand which is the focus of the comedy scene here. They took me under their wing when I started out.”
So, where does she hone her award-winning material?
“Traveling by train is brilliant,” says Susan. “I’ve always loaded up an audiobook or a podcast.
“But I also just watch people, part of my job as a comedian and as a writer is to really look at people. We’re like scavengers!
“And you’re not worried about traffic jams, or getting off the ring road.
“You can get straight off the train and you don’t have to worry about getting a taxi. You can just walk out and start to enjoy yourself. It’s just lovely – you roll into the station and the adventure begins!”
TIME TO GLASS-GO? Susan’s must-sees
“Head to Finnieston, which is the culinary hub of the city.
“It’s had a huge resurgence of brilliant restaurants and really cool bars. I’d start there, that would be the start of my journey.
“One of the best things to do in the city is to go and visit one of the big parks, like Pollok Country Park, and see the Highland cows. They were gifted to the people of Glasgow, and they’re a real symbol of the city.
“Visit The Stand – it’s the focus of the comedy scene here. They took me under their wing when I started out. The greatest comedian in the world came from here, Billy Connolly. So, we’ve got quite a heritage to live up to!”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.