Everyone's a racist, in their own way ...

The challenging humour of W Kamau Bell will be this festival's slow-burner, while fellow comedians find the funny side of romance, anatomy and food

It is often said that the Edinburgh Festival exists in a bubble, but W Kamau Bell is not going along with that. Certainly, the San Francisco comic's show does not want for scope.

Ending Racism in about an Hour is his playful mission – a mission made even tougher by the gaping rows of empty seats on a rain-sodden Sunday night. But if Kamau isn't packing houses come the bank holiday, I'll eat my 360-page programme: a more urgent performer at this year's Fringe I've yet to see. Swiftly dispatching with the hoary myth of a post-racial America, his quietly raging polemic gauges the "Richter scale" of racism, from open bigotry to subconscious prejudice. No one is left off the hook: the ignorant, the well-meaning, or the New Yorker audience member moved to beam that "the blacks love my husband!". "He's good with one more black," he bristles later.

"Race is not real" is his repeated mantra, borne out by an amusingly bemused detour into the vagaries of official racial categorisation. Elsewhere, there are stinging satiric broadsides against the Caucasian bias of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive list and American football's penchant for Native American team names. And as for that racism-ending solution? Bell calls on white people to feel "white pride" and, thereby, a collective responsibility for white prejudice. There's an obvious contradiction here – to cleave to race or reject it? – that's never quite resolved. But no matter: this is seriously funny stuff, in the truest sense of the phrase.

As titles go, Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation could hardly be less inspired. Gorman has been using the slideshow software as a cornerstone of his act for the past decade, while leading a raft of geekily-minded stand-ups to follow suit. Fortunately, that's where the laurel-resting ends. Eschewing the globe-trotting quests of yore, this low-concept hour instead opts for a discursive ramble around the recesses of the internet. The devil, as ever with Gorman, is in the detail: whether he's investigating the deceptions of fellow twitterer Jim Davidson or fake social networking accounts devised for phone adverts, his frenzied curiosity knows no bounds. It wouldn't be a Gorman show without the odd, self-imposed challenge, hence a climactic questlet to produce super-smelly pee, a rare duff note in a show that otherwise proves he doesn't need to stray far beyond his laptop to conjure a beguiling sense of adventure.

From the manic to the mellifluous. The guitar-strumming Isy Suttie has created a right little charmer with one-woman song-rom-com Pearl & Dave. A goofily-realised study of computer love, it charts the online reconnection of Suttie's childhood neighbour and his long-lost amour, eight years on from a Butlins brief encounter. Suttie has a rare gift for character comedy, and her careful delineating of Northern man-child Dave – monotonous, twitchy, brusquely emotional – and Southern housewife Pearl – gawky, fluttering, quietly despondent – is matched by her exquisite ear for the banal, everyday detail. With shades of Alan Bennett, the result is a happy-sad joy.

Conversely, hackneyed-wan is the prevailing mode of Phill Jupitus's Fringe comeback set. After 10 years off the stand-up circuit, the TV favourite acknowledges he's still "feeling [his] way back into it"; problem is, the stale observations of the subsequent hour suggests he's been on a decade-long sabbatical from life to boot. Or maybe it's just that his decision to theme the bulk of his set around the different ages of man is an inevitable catalyst for sweeping generalisations. So, apparently, twentysomethings like blue drinks, thirtysomethings are obsessed with Cath Kidston and fortysomethings are irrationally intolerant. A diatribe against Coldplay is less shooting fish in a barrel than torpedoing them. Indeed, when Jupitus slams the band as "the aural equivalent of magnolia", the criticism is too close for comfort.

Finally, a couple of reasons to be on your avant-garde. Disturbed mime-artist Doctor Brown was one of last year's word-of-mouth successes, and now has audiences flocking to the Underbelly – a considerable achievement for an act who might euphemstically be called an acquired taste. With the audience wrongfooted at every juncture, the venue, Becaves, is a bedlam of rubbish tricks, cryptic scowls, feral crotch grabbing and swinging genitalia. Brilliant "anti-comic" or prankstering charlatan? It's a moot point, though the show's lunatic spirit is certainly infectious, as evidenced by the audience's swift descent into peals of nervous laughter.

If you don't fancy anti-comedy, how about an anti-restaurant? Such is La Concepta, the location-shifting non-eating establishment of the ever-brilliant Simon Munnery. A 15-minute dining experience offering "haute cuisine without the rigmarole or the rigmarole without the haute cuisine", it replaces the banalities of real food with skit-ish specials (I particularly recommend the "Chilly Gymkhana") stewed in the coruscatingly nonsensical imagination of the anarcho-humourist. And all compliments to the un-chef: it's just the thing to cleanse any palate sullied by oil-dripping burgers and over-egged sets.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe to 29 Aug

Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?