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1739, "light, popular song," especially one sung on the stage, from French vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville "town") of Middle French vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire "(song of the) valley of Vire," in the Calvados region of Normandy, first applied to the popular satirical songs of Olivier Basselin, a 15c. poet who lived in Vire.
The alternative explanation is that vaudevire derives from Middle French dialectal vauder "to go" + virer "to turn." The meaning "theatrical entertainment interspersed with songs" first recorded 1827.
Light theatrical entertainment, popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, consisting of a succession of short acts. A vaudeville show usually included comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, trained animals, magicians, and the like.