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: a play, story, novel, etc., that makes a serious subject seem funny or ridiculous
: a kind of entertainment that was popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that included funny performances, singing, dancing, etc., and sometimes performances in which women took off their clothes
Full Definition of BURLESQUE
: a literary or dramatic work that seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation
: mockery usually by caricature
: theatrical entertainment of a broadly humorous often earthy character consisting of short turns, comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts
In literature, comic imitation of a serious literary or artistic form that relies on an extravagant incongruity between a subject and its treatment. It is closely related to parody, though burlesque is generally broader and coarser. Early examples include the comedies of Aristophanes. English burlesque is chiefly drama. John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb (1730), and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Critic (1779) are parodies of popular dramatic forms of the period. Victorian burlesque, usually light entertainment with music, was eclipsed by other popular forms by the late 19th century, and burlesque eventually came to incorporate and be identified with striptease acts (seeburlesque show).