Learn about the development of Burlesque performance with iMinds insightful audio knowledge series. Burlesque is a theatrical performance concerned with parody and exaggeration. But it didn’t originate in the theatre. In fact, the term ‘burlesque’ is believed to have originally come from the Spanish word for joke, which was “burla”. The term “burlesque” was used for satirical literary works from medieval times up until the eighteenth century. Such works which can be described as burlesque include Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Miguel de Cervantes’ Exemplary Novels. But in the eighteenth century, the term “burlesque” began to be used to describe serious theatrical works being performed in an irreverent, comedic way. By lampooning the behavior of characters in serious, upper class entertainments, burlesque provided comedy for many in the lower classes. In England, as elsewhere in Europe, burlesque gained its popularity as a light-hearted form of theatrical entertainment.
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