Vaudeville as a genre of variety entertainment began in France in the 1860s. The first vaudeville productions in France were comedies, often interspersed with song and dance.

Vaudeville gained popularity in the United States in the 1880s, until its demise in the 1930s.

Like the Victorian Music Hall genre in England, the Vaudeville bill consisted of up to 20 unrelated acts with a vast variety in the type of performance.

Musical acts-- both serious and comical, trained animal acts, magicians, ventriloquists, acrobats, jugglers, scenes from popular plays, minstrels, and sideshow acts, among others, could all have been part of the show.

For performers who started their careers in the sideshow, vaudeville was the dream. Much better pay, shorter hours, and more prestigious bookings were just some of the advantages of making the rare leap from sideshow to vaudeville.

While sideshow and vaudeville shared many genres of acts, vaudeville rarely displayed human oddities. Any human oddity acts that hoped to play the vaudeville circuit had to offer more than just simple display of their anomaly/anomalies, they also had to have a real act. One of the few, and certainly the most successful human oddity act to make the leap, were the Hilton Sisters, Daisy and Violet.

An interesting, though temporary, alternative to the difficult passage from sideshow to vaudeville were the group bookings into vaude theaters offered with titles like "A Night In Coney Island," and "A Day At The Sideshow." These package shows featured a cast of genuine sideshow acts such as a sword swallower, Giant, Fat Woman, contortionist, etc. that were booked into many theaters in the 1920s and 30s. These shows always featured an MC or barker who introduced the acts one after another, and included comedy and some serious drama mixed in with the freaks. [to be continued]