Great Resources on Burlesque and Burlesque Comedy

Most histories of burlesque give short shrift to the comedy, but these books contain useful chapters on the subject.  Most are out of print, but generally available from on-line sources.

 abs The American Burlesque Show
By Irving Zeidman
Hawthorn Books, 1967
Zeidman’s book is the most detailed and well-researched history on 20th Century burlesque. He treats comedy in his chapter “The Comedy and the Comics.”
 ann This Was Burlesque
By Ann Corio & Joseph DiMona
Castle Books, 1968
This popularly-written book by one of the leading strippers of the 1930s touches on the comedy and synopsizes several well known comedy bits.
 pictorialhistory A Pictorial History of Burlesque
By Bernard Sobel
Bonanza Books, 1956
Sobel treats the comedians in a chapter on “The School for Comics” in this popularly written and heavily illustrated history of burlesque.
 Burl Burleyque
By Bernard Sobel
Farrar & Rinehart, 1931
Sobel’s 1931 history of burlesque explores the burlesque shows of the early twentieth century, before strip-tease became the defining feature.   He has chapters on such comics as Billy “Beef Trust” Watson, Leon Erroll, Al Jolson, W.C. Fields, Sliding Billy Watson and others.
 horrible-prettiness Horrible Prettiness
By Robert C. Allen
U. of N. Carolina Press, 1991
This historical study of nineteenth century burlesque looks at the burlesque show when it was a three-act parody of popular plays and theatrical genres. It represents a very different type of comedy than twentieth century burlesque.
 Minsky The Night they Raided Minsky’s
By
Roland Barber
Simon & Schuster, 1960
This fictional account of Minsky’s contains well-researched details on the comedy and the cultural backdrop of the Minsky Bros.’ Lower East Side burlesque house, the National Winter Garden. See esp. pp. 201-5, 226-8, 247-9, 267-70.

 

Scripts:

 

 Best Burlesque Sketches The Best Burlesque Sketches
By Ralph Allen
Applause Books, 1996
Ralph Allen, the producer of the burlesque-inspired musical Sugar Babies, published fifty blackouts and scenes from his collection.
 BurlesqueBlackoutsFullCover Burlesque, A Collection of Comedy Blackouts
By Jane Briggeman
Bear Manor Media, 2012
Jane Briggeman has published seventy scenes from the collection of Lee Stuart and Ray Kolb.
 AmPopEnt American Popular Entertainments
By Brooks McNamara
Performing Arts Journal, 1983
McNamara collected scripts from a variety of different popular entertainments, including burlesque. His introduction provides a good overview on the use of traditional comedy material on the American stage.
 Pantomime book The Pantomime Book
By Paul Harris
Peter Owen, 1996
This collection of gags and scenes from the British pantomime contains a number of bits that also circulated in burlesque.
 Burlesque Humor Revisited Burlesque Humor Revisited
By Dick Poston
Samuel French, Inc., 1977
This collection contains a dozen classic burlesque scenes, including a version of “Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turned)” and “Who’s On First.”
 Cavalcade of burlesque Cavalcade of Burlesque Each issue of this quarterly magazine, published between 1951 and 1954, contains scripts for three burlesque bits. Copies of this rare publication turn up for sale periodically on eBay.  See: http://cavalcadeofburlesque.tumblr.com/
 McNally McNally’s Bulletin Copies of this periodical contain scripts and routines.

 

 

Audio Recordings:

 Burlesque with Nuts - CD Cover Burlesque with the Nuts Inside(Jubilee JFM 2065) Scenes include “The Mind Reader,” “Cut Up and Bleeding,” “The Bull Fighters,” “Three Men on a Spree,” “Ice Cream,” “Hold the Car,” “Howdy,” “My Wife’s Idea,” “The Bells.” Cast is headed by Joey Faye.
 Best of Burlesque - Cover The Best of Burlesque
(MGM E-3644)
Scenes include “Higher Education” and “Floogel Street.”   Cast features Sherry Britton and Tom Poston
 Live Burlesque Live - Cover Live Burlesque Live
(United Artists UAS 6613)
Scenes include “Private Dicks,” “Who’s On First,” “Climate,” “School Days,” “MacGregor vs. MacPherson,” and “Money.” The cast is headed by comedian Dick Bernie.
 Burlesque Show (Tempest) - CD Cover Burlesque Show
(Wyncote W-9057)
Scenes include “The Widow,” “Buck Fifty,” “Husband and Wife”
 Burlesque Uncensored Burlesque Uncensored
(Cook 1071)
Scenes include “Old Judge Montfort Rides Again,” “Aunt Martha’s New Maid,” and Women Haters’ Club.” It also includes music for strip-tease, chorus line numbers and a Candy Butcher pitch.
 Rondo Burlesque The Burlesque Show
(Rondo ST 571)
Identical to Burlesque Uncensored.
 The Burlesque Show - Cover The Burlesque Show
(Cameo C-2002)
Scenes include “The Widow,” “Automobile,” “Dr. Plumber,” “Buck- Fifty,” “Husband and Wife,” and “Geese” as well as dance music.
 Gypsy Remembers - CD Cover Gypsy Rose Lee Remembers Burlesque
(Stereoddities CG-1)
“Daisy Scene,” “Pickle Persuader Bit,” and a dozen blackouts feature Gypsy Rose Lee.
 They're Still Laughing - CD Cover They’re Still Laughing
(Capitol T1651)
Scenes include “The Sweepstakes Winner” with Frank Fontaine, “Phone Call to Mama” with George Jessel, “Vas You Dere, Sharlie?” with Jack Pearl, “The Maharajah” with Lou Holtz, “A Glass of Beer” with Sid Marion & Julius Tannen, and “Floogle Street” with Joey Faye and Jack Albertson.
 Sugar Babies - Cover Sugar Babies
(Broadway Entertainment Records 8302)
Scenes include “The Broken Arms Hotel,” “Little Red School House,” “Father Dear,” “The Boss Upstairs.” Mickey Rooney, Jack Fletcher and Ann Miller are featured.
 This Was Burlesque - CD Cover This Was Burlesque
(Roulette SR 25185)
Scenes include “Flirtation Sketch” and “Crazy House” performed by Ann Corio, Steve Mills, Buddy Bryant, Mac Dennison, Charley Robinson and Conny Ryan.
 Pigmeat - World's Greatest Clown - Cover Pigmeat Markham recordings Many of Markham’s bits, including the celebrated “Here Come De Judge” are versions scenes that were widely performed in burlesque.

 

Videos:

 SWV All Something Weird Video
B-Girl Rhapsody (1952)
Burlesque in Harlem (1954)
Burlesque In Hawaii (1952)Buxom Beautease (1956)Can Can Follies (1954)Chicks and Chuckles (Compilation)

Dream Follies (1954)

Everybody’s Girl (1950)

French Follies (1951)

Hollywood Burlesque (1948)

Hollywood Revels (1946)

Honky Tonk Burlesque (1953)

Hurly Burly (1951)

International Burlesque (1950)

Kiss Me Baby (1957)

Lili’s Wedding Night (1952)

Merry Maids of the Gay Way (1954)

Midnite Frolics (1949)

Naughty New Orleans (1962)

A Night At The Follies (1950)

Night At the Moulin Rouge (1951)

Peek-A-Boo (1953)

Strip Strip Hooray (1950)

Striptease Girl (1952)

Teaserama (1955)

Tia Juana After Midnight (1954)

Too Hot To Handle (1950)

Something Weird Video of Seattle, Washington puts out DVD’s of burlesque features from the 1950s. The titles listed all feature burlesque comedy scenes.
 AbbottAndCostelloShow The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series, Collector’s Edition In 1952, Lou Costello produced their own show, which lasted two seasons. Each telecast featured one or more of their classic routines. Season One makes the most of their burlesque routines.
 Abbott and Costello - Colgate Colgate Comedy Hour

  • Jan. 7, 1951
  • March 11, 1951
  • October 14, 1951
  • Nov. 18, 1951
  • Jan. 13, 1952
  • April 6, 1952
  • May 4, 1952
  • Oct. 19, 1952
  • Nov. 23, 1952
  • Dec. 14, 1952
  • Jan. 11, 1953
  • April 26, 1953
  • March 22, 1953
  • March 21, 1954
  • April 18, 1954
  • May 23, 1954
  • Mar. 13, 1955
Abbott & Costello’s appearances on the Colgate Comedy Hour show the duo performing in front of a live audience. Abbott and Costello hosted the show 16 times between 1950 and 1955, and appeared on several others. They performed many of their classic routines on the show. See: More History on the Colegate Comedy Hour

Several of their appearances are available on Hulu. Colgate Comedy Hour on Hulu

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