Vaudeville

As many of you know, I send out a –hopefully — inspirational or uplifting message along with either a quote or cartoon. The one I sent yesterday {see attached} generated a little more comment than usual. In brief, it showed a kid tapping on his phone and an older gent saying he thought tap shows died with vaudeville.

Not totally unexpected, my grandkids {and some others} asked what vaudeville was. Another sent me a reply, “YOU went to a vaudeville show?” with a winky face attached. Another asked, “How old are you? Really?”

So, it’s time to set the record straight. I never went to a vaudeville show. I did go to a burlesque show, however. I may be old but I’m not dead yet … and I still have some memories of my youthful excursions.

For clarification, vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. Except for some local troupes, Some notable vaudevillians were El Brendle, Uncle Dave Macon, and Jack Haley. Jack Benny, Abbott and Costello, Kate Smith, Cary Grant, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Judy Garland, and Gracie Allen and George Burns got their start in vaudeville, but moved their career as silent movies gave way to talkies.

Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. It became popular in the mid 20th century with the addition of strippers who often strip when doing burlesque. Some notables were Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Blaze Starr, Dita Von Teese, and the irrepressibly Mae West.

As a young man in the mid 60s, there were not many burlesque shows around thanks to the variety shows on television. But I remember one particular Saturday night back in 1965 …

There were four of us in our northern New Jersey tribe, friends since grade school. In addition to me, there was Bernie, Carmen, and Murray. One of them — I think it was Murray — suggested we go to a burlesque show in New York City. Bernie, I believe, backed out because he, well, had a real date. So that left the three of us. Even though I was tired from a long week of school and work, I was picked as the designated driver … a) because I never turned down an opportunity to get behind the wheel, and b) I was more familiar with and comfortable driving in New York City.

I can’t remember much of the night, except it was in a little, dark theater off Broadway. I must have dozed off and on during the show despite the hooting and hollering around me because my buddies kept teasing me about falling asleep during the”exciting” parts of the show.

Now, it wasn’t because I am or was a prude. I certainly enjoy the exquisite beauty of the female form. I was tired and kinda lost interest after the first few strips.

So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

By the way, no one asked about the inspiration quote I posted. It was from Walt Disney. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Go figure.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Give and you shall receive, much more than you would have ever thought possible. — Anne Frank

 

 

 

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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2 Responses to Vaudeville

  1. Bruce says:

    I remember my grandfather telling me about vaudeville. Some of the older comedians started out in vaudeville. Rodney Dangerfield’s routine was basically from vaudeville.

    I saw a woman the other day, and she was so fat. How fat was she? I wanna tell ya, she was so fat, she was wearing a gray dress, and an admiral tried to board her.

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