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1830s and early 1840s blackface performers performed solo or as duos, with the occasional trio ; the traveling troupes that would later characterize blackface minstrelsy arise only with the minstrel show.
In New York City in 1843, Dan Emmett and his Virginia Minstrels broke blackface minstrelsy loose from its novelty act and entr ' acte status and performed the first full-blown minstrel show: an evening's entertainment composed entirely of blackface performance.
( E. P. Christy did more or less the same, apparently independently, earlier the same year in Buffalo, New York.
) Their loosely structured show with the musicians sitting in a semicircle, a tambourine player on one end and a bones player on the other, set the precedent for what would soon become the first act of a standard three-act minstrel show.
By 1852, the skits that had been part of blackface performance for decades expanded to one-act farces, often used as the show's third act.

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