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Guest Russell Peters

Stand-up comedy has played a huge role in our understanding of race issues. In the '60s, Dick Gregory brought true black culture into the mainstream. In the '70s, Richard Pryor took it further, and made white audiences question their own attitudes. Now, when it comes to how Canadians feel about skin colour, ethnicity and stereotypes, no comedian has had more impact than Russell Peters.

His own story mirrors our national demographic: Russell grew up in Brampton, Ontario, the first member of his family to be born in Canada. When he started doing stand-up, he talked about his Indian heritage, and how South Asian and Asian culture fit in North American society. Like the best stand-ups, Russell sometimes made people uncomfortable, but the response was huge, all over the world. Last year, he taped a special at London's O2 Arena in front of 30,000 fans.

These days, Russell has entered a new phase of his life: married, with a young daughter, and a growing acting career. One of his latest movies, which aired at the Toronto International Film Festival, is called 'Breakaway', about a group of Sikh-Canadians who decide to form a hockey team. It's a distinctly Canadian story, and just like Russell's comedy, a reminder of the values that really matter.

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