It's Show Time!

Take a restaurant with a stage, or at least an open area for performers to work in, serve alcohol, and you have a cabaret. The first cabaret probably began in France towards the end of the 19th century; it would have been a fairly small club with a raised area that the audience sat around with a compare and mainly amateur performers; entertainment was generally pretty low brow was somewhat sarcastic humour but slowly the French model move closer towards the English music hall comedy genre. The French cabaret that really springs to most people's minds is the Moulin Rouge (or Red Mussel!) which the somewhat decadent painter Toulouse-Lautrec immortalised in his paintings; their most popular entertainment was the can-can and some of the dancing ladies are reputed to have worn little no underwear, hence its popularity with bourgeois French society! The German variety of cabaret followed not long after the French one, with a similar format albeit with a blacker humour and eventually this metamorphosised into what we would now call 'edgy' comedy, which was often very critical and contemptuous of the political situation at the time and they were very often frequented by political radicals, revolutionaries and left wingers which tended to bring down the wrath of the Nazi government during the 30s as anyone who watched Liza Minnelli in the film Cabaret can confirm! That seemed to sound the death knell of German cabaret; it still survives yet, but in a much muted form, and it is no longer a meeting point for political dissidents.

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