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Burlesque

Related: adult - bawdy - entertainment - humour - mock - music hall - ribaldry - ridicule - striptease - vaudeville

Not Shakespeare : Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century (2002) - Richard W. Schoch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Burlesque has been a powerful and enduring weapon in the critique of legitimate Shakespearean culture by a seemingly illegitimate popular culture, particularly in the nineteenth century. This first study of nineteenth-century Shakespeare burlesques explores the paradox that plays obviously not Shakespearean appear to be the most genuinely Shakespearean of all. The book brings together archival research, rare photographs and illustrations, studies of burlesque scripts, and an awareness of theatrical, literary, and cultural contexts.

Definition

Burlesque was originally a form of art that mocked by imitation, referring to everything from comic sketches to dance routines and usually lampooning the social attitudes of the upper classes. It was often ridiculous in that it imitated several styles, and combined imitations of authors and artists with absurd descriptions. In this, the term was often used interchangeably with "pastiche," "parody," and, at the turn of the 18th century, "mock-heroic." Possibly due to historical social tensions between the upper classes and lower classes of society, much of the humor and entertainment focused on lowbrow and ribald subjects.

In literary criticism, burlesque is often used as a generic term to describe any imitative work that derives humor from an incongruous contrast between style and subject. In this usage, forms of satire such as parody and travesty are types of burlesque (Abrams, 1999). High burlesque refers to a burlesque imitation where a serious style is applied to commonplace or comically inappropriate subject matter as, for example, in the literary parody and the mock-heroic. Low burlesque applies an irreverent, mocking style to a serious subject; an example is Samuel Butler's Hudibras, which describes the misadventures of a Puritan knight in satiric doggerel verse, using a colloquial idiom.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, burlesque has come to be a genre of adult entertainment, focusing on aspects of humor, satire and sexual tantalization. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlesque [Dec 2005]

Definition (AHD)

  1. A literary or dramatic work that ridicules a subject either by presenting a solemn subject in an undignified style or an inconsequential subject in a dignified style. See Synonyms at caricature.
  2. A ludicrous or mocking imitation; a travesty: The antics of the defense attorneys turned the trial into a burlesque of justice.
  3. A variety show characterized by broad ribald comedy, dancing, and striptease. --American Heritage Dictionary

Important dates in burlesque history

411bc
Aristophanes writes Lysistrata, the first known burlesque that has Athenian women rebelling against war by using sexual blackmail against their husbands. --http://www.anatomyofburlesque.com/datesframe.htm [Dec 2004]

THE BEST OF BURLESQUE (1940s-1950s)


Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment

Long before exploiteers could show pickles and bush on film and when sex was still taboo across the country, business was booming in the burlesque business, built around stage shows with comedians, novelty acts, and of course plenty of beautiful women stripping to their pasties in tasteful form to avoid the wrath of the law. Glancing back at these burlesque acts, they seem quaint and nostalgic in comparison to today's in-your-face pornography and raunchy stripclubs, but are really nothing more than that. It's not surprising that Something Weird Video has cobbled together dozens of shorts, loops, and two feature films for the ultimate 2-disc tribute to this lost artform, and the package sounds mouthwatering, but once you dive in, THE BEST OF BURLESQUE can't help but feel like a whole lot of nothing.

[...]

Burlesque films are a love-'em or hate-'em batch. You'll either be bored stiff by them or fascinated by their historical value. I'm on the fence about this release (I didn't even make it through the whole thing after a month!), but let's just say that without any really recognizable cult starlets to liven things up, the majority of exploitation aficionados will be left out in the cold with this release. Still, SWV gets an A for effort by packing two discs with so much material for such a low price. Whether you sit down to watch the whole thing is doubtful. (Casey Scott) --http://www.dvddrive-in.com/reviews/a-d/bestofburlesque4050.htm [Sept 2004]

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