VAUDEVILLE, a term now generally given to a musical drama of a light, humorous or comic description interspersed with songs and dances. In English usage " vaudeville " is practically synonymous with what is more generally known as " musical comedy," but in America it is applied also to a musichall variety entertainment. This modern sense is developed from the French vaudeville of the 18th century, a popular form of light dramatic composition, consisting of pantomime, dances, songs and dialogue, written in couplets. It is generally accepted that the word is to be identified with vau-de-mre, the name given to the convivial songs of the 15th century. This name originated with a literary association known as the " Cowpagnons Gallois," i.e. " boon companions " or " gay comrades " in the valley of the Vire and Virene in Normandy. The most famous of the authors of these songs was Olivier Basselin (q.v.). When in the 17th century the term had become applied to topical, satiric verses current in the towns, it was corrupted into its present form, either from d vau le mile, or iioix de ville.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)