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"True variety is in that plenitude of real and unexpected elements." --Marcel Proust

A poster of the Vaudeville team, Joseph Hart and Carrie DeMar from 1899
image sourced here.

Variety show

A variety show is a show with a variety of acts, often including music and comedy skits. Variety shows are arguably developed from the vaudeville musical comedy which flourished in North America from the 1880s through the 1920s.

The format really took off with the advent of television. Shows featuring Milton Berle, Bob Hope and Dean Martin helped to make the Golden Age Of Television successful.

But one man did help to define the variety show format for all time: Ed Sullivan. From 1948 to 1971, his show was one of CBS's most popular series'. Using his no-nonsense approach, he allowed every known act possible from every known medium to get their "fifteen minutes of fame." Sullivan was also partially responsible for bringing Elvis Presley and The Beatles to U.S. prominence.

It reached its peak during the period of the 1960s and 1970s. With a turn of the television dial you would have seen shows featuring Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, Sonny and Cher, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Lawrence Welk, Glen Campbell, Donny & Marie and The Muppets.

But when Dolly Parton's 1980s variety show on ABC was canceled after a short run, it was clear that the variety show format had almost come crashing down due to changing times and viewing habitsóespecially with the rise of music video channels such as MTV and VH1.

Only one true show of that kind still remains: NBC's Saturday Night Live, which made its debut in 1975 and is still airing today, with its combination of comedy sketches and musical performances.

In 2004, however, ABC's The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour attempted to revive the prime-time variety hour for today's generation. The first show was a ratings success, and it was followed by Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas in early December of that year. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variety_show [Apr 2005]

Music hall [...]

Music Hall is a type of British theatre which had its start in the public "song and supper" rooms of the 1850s. It flourished from the 1890s to the Second World War, when other forms of popular music evolved and it began to be replaced by films as the most popular form of entertainment.

British Music Hall was similar to American vaudeville, featuring rousing songs and standard jokes, while in the United Kingdom the term vaudeville referred to more lowbrow entertainment that would have been termed burlesque in the United States. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Hall

Variety (magazine)

Variety is a daily magazine for the entertainment industry. It has been published since 1905, starting by covering vaudeville with offices in New York, then opening a Los Angeles bureau in the 1930s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variety_%28magazine%29 [Apr 2005]

Magazine [...]

A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles on various subjects. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magazine [Feb 2005]

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