“AN awful lot of comedy club owners are frustrated comedians,” says Mark Tughan, perched on a stool in Glasgow’s Christmas market.

“Would I like to do that? Of course I bloody would! But I know I can’t.”

If there’s one thing he can do, it’s put bums on seats at comedy venues around the UK.

The Glee Comedy Club owner has been running clubs for 25 years, has showcased some of the country’s best talent and fought a £1 million legal battle with 20th Century Fox to keep his company going.

Key to his philosophy, he says, is what he calls being in the “treat business”.

“We are in the business of the big night out. It’s a big deal going out on a Friday or a Saturday to the Glee Club.

“And yes, it’s all about the comedy but it’s still a big night out. If you don’t come away with a slight ache in your face from laughing a lot then we haven’t done our job properly.”

“I’m just a lover of comedy,” he adds, slightly unnecessarily.

Born in Northern Ireland, he discovered the science of stand-up at the world-famous Comedy Club in London in the 1980s.

After a short career in merchant banking, ending in a recession, he instead tried his hand at running comedy clubs.

“The bank that I was in went belly under and I was one of the last men standing,” he says.

“I was in a comedy club with a group of pals and someone said ‘what a business this is! Is it happening anywhere else?’

“There was something really growing in London and it hadn’t happened outside of London.”

His club was the first.

When I ask about the secret settlement he received when Sky started its TV show of the same name, he’s tight-lipped.

The dispute ran for years and ended only when he was handed a presumably very large sum by the broadcaster.

In the past he’s described it as a ‘David and Goliath’ moment.

“All I’m allowed to say is it was settled on confidential terms,” he says.

“But what I am allowed to say is, we settled on confidential terms… and I would do it again tomorrow.”

So Mark might not be too good at telling jokes, but he’s determined to open a venue in the city he’s had his eye on for the last eight years: Glasgow.

He was first tipped off that he should come to the city by, unsurprisingly, some comedians.

“I get the feeling it’s a real going out city,” he says. “A couple of comics said to me, ‘when you’re ready, do it in Glasgow’.”

Glasgow’s comedy talent has in the past brought the world Billy Connolly and Kevin Bridges, and Mark believes the city still has a lot to offer.

The club will run nights with a selection of comedians in a purpose-built venue on Renfrew Street, which will seat 400.

It will compete with famous Glasgow comedy hang-out The Stand, in the West End.

There is food and drink too, although Tughan describes himself as a “reluctant publican and reluctant restaurateur”.

“I’m all about the show,” he says with a grin.

On 1 February the curtain will go up on its first comedy bill, featuring Glasgow-born comedian Jay Lafferty.

Lafferty’s show, ‘Wheesht!’ burst onto the scene at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, and she is now performing all over the UK, including at Glee clubs.

She describes her comedy as “sarcastic and acerbic”, but yesterday joined forces with The Evening Times to try out some comedy of a very different kind – Christmas cracker jokes.

Armed with jokes selected and written by the team at Glee, we asked passers-by what they thought of some of the worst Christmas jokes we could find, and some new ones (see box).

The jokes produced as least as many groans as laughs, which Mark says is key.

“A silly Q&A pun is always a winner, something that gets a good old traditional laugh (or a groan) from everyone around the table.

“Christmas really is a time where you need to pardon predictable puns,” he said.

A video of the afternoon will soon be available on the Evening Times website.

l Tickets for the Glee Club’s opening night and for shows throughout February are on sale today at www.glee.co.uk and start at £11 plus a booking fee.