“Burlesque” dates back to the early 16th century. It comes from the Italian burlesco or burla - a joke, ridicule, or mockery.
Particularly in the United States, it refers to performances that take place within a variety show format, often featuring bawdy comedy amd striptease.
Victorian Burlesque was popular in London theatres in the 1830’s to 1890’s and usually parodied, in a risqué style, well-known operas, plays and ballets. In America, it was popular in the late 1800’s and beyond, until Prohibition. By the 1970’s burlesque had virtually disappeared, and venues like Minsky’s at the Winter Garden and Victory Burlesque in Toronto had closed their doors.
There has been a revival of burlesque over the past few decades, to the point that in Toronto and elsewhere you can you’ll find performances taking place in a number of locations several nights of the week. It’s a vibrant community, whose members are committed to their craft, and to sharing their joie de vivre with the rest of us.