Vaudeville, where double-takes, spit-takes, pratfalls, running jokes and animal acts were right at home. Vaudeville, or “voix de ville” (Talk of the Town) as it was known in France was in its heyday in the United States in the late 19th century, and only began to wane when moving pictures eclipsed its appeal. For the U.S., it all began in Boston where carnival barker-turned-impressario, Benjamin Franklin Keith opened a Vaudeville theater above his Gaity Museum in 1883. Sensitive to the conservative tastes of his Boston audience, Keith rejected the common “blue” humor that often comprised Vaudeville acts, and insisted on only the family friendly”Boston Version” of entertainment, a term which became known throughout the industry.
Join theater historian Trav S.D. for a tour of Boston Vaudeville history.