Skip to Main Content

Year 9 - Drama: Vaudeville

What is Vaudeville?

Vaudeville was "a variety show set in a theatre".

Light theatrical entertainment featuring individual, unrelated acts, vaudeville was popular in the United States from the mid-1890s until the early 1930s. Magicians, acrobats, comedians, trained animals, jugglers, singers, and dancers performed as soloists or in groups.

The word vaudeville is probably derived from the French vaux-de-vire, which were 15th-century songs sung to popular tunes in the Val-de-Vire area of Normandy. In the early 18th century professional French actors presented their plays in pantomime, interpreting the action with lyrics and choruses set to popular tunes. In this way, they were able to perform despite the dramatic monopoly held by the Comédie-Française. Their performances eventually developed into a form of light musical drama with spoken dialogue interspersed with songs that became popular throughout Europe.

From Britannica

Vaudeville - the precursor to Standup Comedy

Famous Practitioners

Not all of these are comedians but many are famous performers who became known outside of Vaudeville

Abbott and Costello

The Marx Brothers

The Three Stooges

Laurel and Hardy

Lolo Montez

Al Jolsen


Judy Garland 

Examples of Vaudeville