minstrel show

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

minstrel show,

stage entertainment by white performers made up as blacks. Thomas Dartmouth Rice, who gave (c.1828) the first solo performance in blackface and introduced the song-and-dance act Jim Crow, is called the "father of American minstrelsy." The first public performance of a minstrel show was given in 1843 by the Virginia Minstrels, headed by Daniel Decatur Emmett. Christy's Minstrels (for whom Stephen FosterFoster, Stephen Collins,
1826–64, American songwriter and composer, b. Lawrenceville, Pa. His pioneer family was aware of his talent for music, but not understanding it they provided him with little formal musical education.
..... Click the link for more information.
 wrote some of his most popular songs) appeared in 1846, headed by Edwin P. ChristyChristy, Edwin P.,
1815–62, American showman, b. Philadelphia. He established c.1846 in Buffalo, N.Y., a company of minstrels that came to be known as Christy's Minstrels.
..... Click the link for more information.
. In the first part of the minstrel show the company, in blackface and gaudy costumes, paraded to chairs placed in a semicircle on the stage. The interlocutor then cracked jokes with the end men, and, for a finale, the company passed in review in the "walk around." This part of the minstrel show caricatured the black man, representing him by grotesque stereotypes that were retained in the minds of white American audiences for many decades. In the second part of the show vaudeville or olio (medley) acts were presented. The third or afterpart was a burlesque on a play or an opera. The minstrel show was at its peak from 1850 to 1870 but passed with the coming of vaudeville, motion pictures, and radio.


See C. Wittke, Tambo and Bones: A History of the American Minstrel Stage (1930, repr. 1968).

minstrel show

a theatrical entertainment consisting of songs, dances, comic turns, etc., performed by a troupe of actors wearing black face make-up
References in periodicals archive ?
Although the popularity of Black and White Minstrel Shows in local British music halls peaked in the 1890s, they continued with local amateur productions across Scotland, even in the the more remote areas such as Stornoway in Lewis and Lerwick in the Shetlands and Maybole in Ayrshire.
I grew up with the Black and White Minstrel Show on TV, which attracted an audience of 18 million.
Robert Littell, the critically acclaimed author of The Company and fourteen other novels of espionage and intrigue, called The Last Minstrel Show "a page-turner.
The populist position critiques the minstrel show, claiming that
The script itself is a series of 'Specimen Jokes, Stories, and Conundrums' which follow this advisory head note: 'In getting up a minstrel show, it is advisable each time to introduce all the new gags or jokes possible.
The tuner, from the songwriting team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, uses the minstrel show format to retell the true story of a 1931 case of nine young black men falsely accused of assaulting two white women.
This meant that black/ace had a history which extended back much further than the first American minstrel show, and that its meanings were never just about race.
British ballads, black spirituals, minstrel show songs (most of their composers ironically Northern), German bands and hymns all had a major role in shaping the white folk music of 19th century America.
Sean Hayes--who has for years played a ridiculous stereotype on the minstrel show that is Will & Grace--made a few Brokeback jokes in his acceptance [speech at the Screen Actors Guild awards].
The author makes it clear that the poetry of griots who included Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, and Sterling Brown crystallized the ideological project to recast "the identities of America's anonymous black masses away from the prevailing imagery of exoticism, romantic folkishness, and minstrel show buffoonery and toward a greater semblance of living, breathing, and proletarian human beings" (178).
The name Jim Crow came from a character from a minstrel show that portrayed blacks negatively.