How to Use Burlesque
Burlesque’s purpose is to imitate and make a satire out of the style and/or the subject of a serious genre, author, work, or literature. While it is a very effective style for theater, film and television, it also comes in many forms of literature (essays, novels, and even poetry). Most prominently, it makes some sort of statement (whether it be serious or comical), and is consistently funny and entertaining. The style often relies heavily on witty humor (even smart jokes are presented in absurd ways), so subtle details can be used to make big laughs. It is also crucial to seriously consider the audience when composing a burlesque work. Burlesque usually relies on the audience having prior knowledge about its subject—the writer assumes that the audience will understand the context and the theme. For example, if a play or novel is ridiculing an American president, the jokes will be funny to those who are familiar with him and his role in politics; but, the jokes will not be funny to those who have no knowledge of that president. Lastly, to create a successful burlesque work, the following few rules are essential:
- Know your audience—write with a specific readers or viewers in mind.
- Know your subject—do as much research on your topic as possible.
- Know your purpose—be clear about the statement that your piece is trying to achieve.
- Be funny—anything and everything should be ridiculed for the best effect.
When to Use Burlesque
Burlesque has always been best employed when an author wants to make a statement; which can be either serious or insignificant. That statement can address social issues, politics, religion, or even just make the audience laugh about irrelevant subjects that they wouldn’t normally think about as funny. So, it is used when those statements need to be made and need to be heard, or, when a writer wants to bring something to the audience’s attention by ridiculing it. It can also be used when a writer wants to make fun of a subject that perhaps takes itself too seriously—for instance, Scary Movie makes fun of serious but unrealistic teen horror films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Burlesque is the best style to use when a writer wants to make an audience laugh about things that are normally not humorous or get little attention.