Burlesque derives from the Italian word ‘burla’ and means a joke or to ridicule. In this sense, burlesque shows were similar to satirical performances in that they were send-ups mocking people and events.
Originating in England in the late 17th Century, burlesque began as dramas parodying social events. It was not until this type of comedy was introduced in the United States in the second half of the 20th Century, that it began to achieve notoriety for being a bawdy variety performance involving women wearing risqué costumes performing to a mostly male audience.
Not surprisingly, the demise of burlesque coincided in the 1960’s with the large-scale commercial success of strip clubs in America, which effectively replaced this one-time theatrical genre with a broader form of entertainment.