A descendant of {{Vaudeville}}: an anthology of unrelated performances, some musical, some comedic. The first breakout television shows were variety shows, most notably ''Series/TheEdSullivanShow''. Important examples include ''Series/TheCarolBurnettShow,'' ''The Jackie Gleason Show'' and ''The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.'' As you might notice, many such shows were named for the host.

This format fell out of favor in the early [[Main/TheEighties 1980s]]. Cable (particularly [=MTV=] and [=HBO=]) provided alternate outlets for the music, stand-up comedy, and miscellaneous acts that were the bread-and-butter of these shows, and viewers no longer had to sit through three acts they weren't interested in for the sake of one that they wanted to see. Also, tastes were becoming more polarized; whereas formerly people could endure musical styles they didn't care for much, more and more people actually HATED styles they disfavored.

Moreover, fatigue with the genre had sprung up in TheSeventies -- ''Donny and Marie'' and ''Sonny and Cher'' were only the best-known examples in a decade that also brought us increasingly corny shows toplined by such acts as TheBradyBunch and the Bay City Rollers. One-shot and annual specials such as ''Circus of the Stars'' persisted into the early 1990s, but even those are now relatively rare.

Occasional attempts to revive the genre (on networks or cable) have been doomed to failure, though some might argue that SketchComedy shows such as ''SaturdayNightLive'', the late-night TalkShow format, and reality competitions such as ''Series/AmericanIdol'' and ''America's Got Talent'' keep the form on life support.

Producers of the British SitCom ''TheYoungOnes'' booked a band for a guest appearance in every episode; musical performances qualified the series as a variety show, and it was therefore permitted a larger budget than usual for a BBC sitcom.
----
!!!Examples:
* Many an American ChristmasSpecial is this, including the notorious ''Film/TheStarWarsHolidaySpecial''.
* ''The Brady Bunch Hour''
* ''Series/TheCarolBurnettShow''
* ''Donny and Marie''
* ''Series/TheEdSullivanShow''
* ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' -- Somewhere between a straight example and a spoof of this genre.
* ''Series/PinkLadyAndJeff'' -- This 1980 [=NBC=] flop was the arguable GenreKiller.
* ''Series/TheSmothersBrothersComedyHour''
* ''Solstrom'' -- A 2003 WidgetSeries produced by Creator/CirqueDuSoleil had whimsical fantasy storylines brought to life via a selection of circus/variety acts from both within and without Cirque's live shows.
* ''This Is Tom Jones''
* The last legitimate attempt at a traditional VarietyShow on American network television was 1987's ''Dolly'', starring DollyParton - it lasted one season and was considered a huge gamble even then.
** [[Series/NewlywedsNickAndJessica Nick and Jessica]] did a variety show special on {{ABC}} in 2004 that flopped ''badly''.
* A radio example would be ''Radio/APrairieHomeCompanion''.
* Technically, by having bands on ''TheYoungOnes'' was considered a variety show. (This was because variety got a higher budget than light entertainment at the BBC.)
* ''TheSlammer'' -- A variety show with a weird framing device.
* ''VivaVariety'' -- ComedyCentral's parody of these kinds of programs
----