Burlesque was a special form of stage entertainment in the United States from
about the time of the Civil War to the start of World War Two. It was broad,
noisy, vulgar, sometimes mixed with song and strip-tease. Many famous stage
performers started in burlesque, including W.C.Fields, Fannie Brice, Mae
West, Bert Lahr and Al Jolson.
In this program one of the last masters of burlesque, Steve Mills, recreates
a few of the famous set pieces that audiences knew and loved. Assisted by
Caro Cormic, Abagail Chase, Dexter Maitland, and Harry Ryan, Mills performs
"The Telephone", "Sonny Boy," "Nagging Woman," "The Olio," and "In the
Alley." Mills points out that these skits were not written down and were
constantly borrowed back and forth among performers, each of whom gave them a
special twist. They all included stock characters, living stereotypes with
predetermined punch lines.