The minstrel show in its final form was a huge entertainment product shaped for the needs of the audience. It consisted of different layers which had different functions. The Negro topics, which were closely connected to song and dance, supplied the people with stereotyped images of blacks and kept them from having to take blacks seriously. The comical routines were pure entertainment to make fun of everything just for the sake of being funny. By lampooning contemporary fads, current plays or classical drama they also gave the people a chance to laugh about themselves. Especially in the later years there was a lot of social commentary , and minstrels, shifting away from Negro topics, took a closer and more critical look at life in the Northern states. All these elements together made up the minstrel show with all its aspects, and only by regarding all these ingredients can one begin to understand the huge success of the minstrel show.


  © 2022 by Jochen Scheytt

Jochen Scheytt
is a teacher, pianist, composer, arranger and author. He teaches at the State University of Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart and at the Schlossgymnasium in Kirchheim unter Teck.