On the Futility of Labels


I love this poster because it’s an illustration of the fact that definitions and taxonomy are bullshit, at least around the edges. M.B. Leavitt, considered a pioneer of burlesque, also claimed to have been the first to have started using the term vaudeville. Look at this 1899 poster – – it promises an extravaganza (a pre-cursor of musical comedy), but sure looks like burlesque, plus it says vaudeville at the bottom. It can be all, it can be none, it can be a combination, or as Bishop Berkley thought, it can be an idea in your friggin’ mind. Categories are invented. What is the fundamental? Performer + audience = show. That’s all that matters.

For more about vaudeville  consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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