The cabaret spawned out of the cafe-concert, but it wasn't as loud and boisterous. Chansons continued to be the main source of entertainment, but the patrons changed from the bourgeois to artists and writers. The more intimate setting gave rise to more ambitious and improvisational performances among peers. Where the cafe-concert maintained a large audience, the cabaret maintained a high quality audience.
Chansons took on the role of newspapers and reported the daily events before responding to them. The cabaret also included a program of poetry, sketches, dance, monologues, and songs which might span over fifteen acts.
The earliest cabaret grew from poets and writers wanting to read their works to an audience of friends, writers, and poets. Rudolphe Salis founded the Chat Noir in 1881 for painters, writers, friends composers, and poets to perform their works. He increased its popularity by serving drinks.
Le Theatre d'ombres en France, or the shadow theatre, was a novelty that spun off
from the Chat Noir. The symbolist and landscape painter Henri Rivieres
painted or superimposed on glass and paper a decor. He used cut outs and
puppets with the decor to produce the forerunner of the motion picture.
Rivieres would sometimes accompany his novelty with musical performances
or narration. Debussy and Satie were two composers who participated in
the musical accompaniments.