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Music Hall

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

The term music hall denotes both a historic industry and its distinctive form of humor. A prototype modern show business incorporating a wide range of entertainments, the British music hall grew from the early Victorian pub with a working-class clientele into a nationwide network of grandiose purpose-built halls with a mass audience, paralleling the development of American vaudeville. In its early 1900s heyday, music hall aspired to more respectable status as variety, although the original label endured. Following its abrupt decline after World War I as a result of competition from radio and film, the industry enjoyed a renewed boom in the 1930s in synergy with the new media. Although the business side was killed off by television in the 1950s, its style of humor ...

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