A promotional poster for the Sandow Trocadero Vaudevilles (1894), showing dancers, clowns, trapeze artists, costumed dog, singers and costumed actors

Vaudeville (l/; French: [vodvil]) is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

In some ways analogous to music hall from Victorian Britain,[1] a typical American vaudeville performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts have included popular and classical musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, ventriloquists, strongmen, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies. A vaudeville performer is often referred to as a "vaudevillian".

Vaudeville developed from many sources, also including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary American burlesque. Called "the heart of American show business", vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades.[2]


The origin of the term is obscure, but is often explained as being derived from the French expression voix de ville ("voice of the city"). A second speculation is that it comes from the 15th-century songs on satire by poet Olivier Basselin, "Vaux de Vire".[3] In his Connections television series, science historian James Burke argues that the term is a corruption of the French "Vau de Vire" ("Vire River Valley", in English), an area known for its bawdy drinking songs and where Basselin lived;[4] Jean le Houx circa 1610 collected these works as Le Livre des Chants nouveaux de Vaudevire [fr], which is probably the direct origin of the word. Some, however, preferred the earlier term "variety" to what manager Tony Pastor called its "sissy and Frenchified" successor. Thus, vaudeville was marketed as "variety" well into the 20th century.

Other Languages
العربية: فودفيل
asturianu: Vodevil
azərbaycanca: Vodevil
башҡортса: Водевиль
беларуская: Вадэвіль
български: Водевил
català: Vodevil
čeština: Vaudeville
dansk: Vaudeville
Deutsch: Vaudeville
Ελληνικά: Βοντβίλ
español: Vodevil
Esperanto: Vodevilo
euskara: Vaudeville
فارسی: وودویل
français: Vaudeville
galego: Vodevil
한국어: 보드빌
հայերեն: Վոդևիլ
hrvatski: Vodvilj
Bahasa Indonesia: Vaudeville
italiano: Vaudeville
עברית: וודוויל
ქართული: ვოდევილი
қазақша: Водевиль
magyar: Vaudeville
norsk: Vaudeville
norsk nynorsk: Vaudeville
polski: Wodewil
português: Vaudeville
română: Vodevil
русский: Водевиль
саха тыла: Водевиль
Scots: Vaudeville
Simple English: Vaudeville
slovenčina: Vaudeville
کوردی: ڤۆدڤیل
српски / srpski: Водвиљ
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Vodvilj
suomi: Vaudeville
svenska: Vaudeville
Tagalog: Bodabil
Türkçe: Vodvil
українська: Водевіль