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Burlesque

  • By: Andrew Davis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Burlesque is an absurd or grotesque imitation of what is intended to be dignified or pathetic. The humor of burlesque comes out of a juxtaposition of high and low style or an incongruity of style and subject matter. It is achieved in one of two ways: by treating a serious subject in an overly familiar manner—low burlesque or travesty—or treating a relatively trivial subject in a grandiose way—high burlesque or parody. The term has been used over the centuries interchangeably with parody, travesty, burletta, pantomime, extravaganza, and most recently striptease. This entry traces the evolution of burlesque from being recognized as a literary genre in England during the Restoration (1660) to its present-day association with erotic entertainment.

Burlesque has elements of both parody and satire but ...

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