What Is Burlesque & The Variety Arts?
Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which, in turn, is derived from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery. Later use of the term, particularly in the United States, refers to performances in a variety show format. Variety shows, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is entertainment made up of a variety of acts including musical performances, sketch comedy, magic, acrobatics, juggling, and ventriloquism. It is normally introduced by a master of ceremonies or host. The variety format made its way from Victorian era stage to radio and then television.
In recent decades, there has been a revival of burlesque, sometimes called Neo-Burlesque, now noted throughout the world.  Neo-Burlesque, or New Burlesque, is the revival and updating of the traditional American burlesque performance. Though based on the traditional burlesque art, the new form encompasses a wider range of performance styles. Neo-Burlesque acts can range from the classic striptease, to modern dance and circus, to theatrical mini-dramas and comedic mayhem.  Modern burlesque has taken on many forms, but it has the common trait of honoring one or more of burlesque’s previous incarnations. The acts tend to put emphasis on style and are sexy. A typical burlesque act usually includes striptease, expensive or garnished costumes, humor and may incorporate elements of cabaret, circus skills and more. 
“Burlesque”, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, accessed 16 February 2011
In theatrical use, a burla was “a comic interlude or practical joke introduced, usually extempore, into a performance by the servant masks of the commedia dell’arte … developed at will into a small independent ‘turn’, the characters returning at its conclusion to the main theme of the plot”. See Hartnoll, Phyllis and Peter Found. “Burla”, The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, Oxford University Press, 1996. Oxford Reference Online, accessed 16 February 2011
Sankar-Gorton, Eliza (30 April 2015). “Burlesque Is Back and Here Is What You Need to Know About It”. www.huffingtonpost.com. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 May 2015
Petkovic, John (28 November 2010). “Burlesque: Then and now, a timeline of performers from Lili St. Cyr to Dita VonTeese”. www.cleveland.com. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
“Circus Skills”. The List.