The first cabaret was opened in 1881 in Montmartre, Paris: Rodolphe Salis' "cabaret artistique." Shortly after it was founded, it was renamed Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat). It became a locale in which up-and-coming cabaret artists could try their new acts.
The Folies Bergère continued to attract a large number of people even though it was more expensive than other cabarets. People felt comfortable at the cabaret: They did not have to take off their hat, could talk, eat, and smoke when they wanted to, etc. They did not have to stick to the usual rules of society.
At the Folies Bergère, as in many cafés-concerts, there were a variety of acts: singers, dancers, jugglers, and clowns.
Le Lido, on the Champs-Élysées has been a venue of the finest shows with the most famous names since 1946 including Édith Piaf, Laurel & Hardy, Shirley MacLaine, Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier, and Noel Coward among them.
In the United States, cabaret diverged into several different styles of performance mostly due to the influence of Jazz Music. Chicago cabaret focused intensely on the larger band ensembles and reached its peak in the speakeasies, and steakhouses (like The Palm) of the Prohibition Era.
New York cabaret never developed to feature a great deal of social commentary. When New York cabarets featured jazz, they tended to focus on famous vocalists like Nina Simone, Bette Midler, Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee, and Hildegarde rather than instrumental musicians. Cabaret in the United States began to decline in the 1960s, due to the rising popularity of rock concert shows and television variety shows. The art form still survives in various musical formats as well as in the Stand-up comedy format and in popular drag show performances.
Cabaret is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts in the United States, particularly in New Orleans, Seattle, Philadelphia, Orlando, Asheville, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon, as new generations of performers reinterpret the old forms in both music and theatre. Many contemporary cabaret groups in the United States and elsewhere feature a combination of original music, burlesque and political satire, as can be found in such groups as Cabaret Red Light and Leviathan: Political Cabaret. In New York City, since 1985, successful, enduring or innovative cabaret acts have been honored by the annual Bistro Awards.
In the Netherlands, cabaret or kleinkunst is a popular form of entertainment. In its famous city Amsterdam, there is the Kleinkunstacademie (English: Cabaret Academy). It is often a mixture of (stand up) comedy, theatre, and music.
In the twentieth century, "the big three" were Wim Sonneveld, Wim Kan, and Toon Hermans. Other popular artists are Youp van 't Hek, Freek de Jonge, Herman Finkers, Brigitte Kaandorp, Bert Visscher, Najib Amhali, Hans Liberg, Hans Teeuwen, Theo Maassen, Javier Guzman, Herman van Veen, and Paul van Vliet.
German cabaret or Kabarett is a form of political satire that was created at the end of the 19th century.