Hall of Fame

The training that burlesque comics received served them for their entire careers, whether they went on to fame in another medium or stayed in burlesque. The bits they learned or originated were never really lost, for they could use them again and again.

Burlesque comics were known for flexibility and inventiveness onstage. They had a huge body of material to draw on.

Here’s what New York Times theatre critic Brooks Atkinson had to say:

The comics who learned their trade in burlesque and vaudeville 25 or 30 years ago had a liberal education in the whole technique of the stage, and in varying degrees most of them can act parts as well as take pratfalls.

Comedians of this heroic stature are never jokesmiths clinging desperately to the microphone, but dancers, singers, and acrobats, who can use the whole stage; not talkers, but actors, who know that what you do on the stage is more important than what you say.

Abbott & Costello

Nobody made more use of this material, than Abbott & Costello. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello teamed up in 1936. Both had been around burlesque for years working with various partners. They quickly made the switch to vaudeville and from there to radio, films and television.

Abbott & Costello made extensive use of traditional material in their film and television appearances, hiring a burlesque straightman, John O. Grant, to punch up their film scripts with bits they all knew from burlesque.

Hall of Fame Blog

Famous Graduates of Burlesque

Abbott and Costello were by no means the only famous comedians to come out of burlesque.  Burlesque produced some of the most famous and skilled comedians of the twentieth century.

Some starred in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Others first made their mark on Broadway.  Musical revues of the 1920s employed a number of burlesque comics.

Burlesque Veterans on Broadway

Stanley Green discusses the stage careers of several of these comedians in his book, The Great Clowns of Broadway.

Some became Radio stars

Some moved into Television

These character actors might look familiar. They all got their start in Burlesque.

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