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A traditional Punch and Judy booth, at Swanage, Dorset, England

Punch and Judy is a traditional puppet show featuring Mr. Punch and his wife Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically Mr. Punch and one other character who usually falls victim to Punch's slapstick. It is often associated with traditional British culture.[1] The various episodes of Punch comedy—often provoking shocked laughter—are dominated by the clowning of Mr. Punch.[2]

Punch and Judy at a fete

The show is performed by a single puppeteer inside the booth, known since Victorian times as a "professor" or "punchman", and assisted sometimes by a "bottler" who corrals the audience outside the booth, introduces the performance, and collects the money ("the bottle"). The bottler might also play accompanying music or sound effects on a drum or guitar, and engage in back chat with the puppets, sometimes repeating lines that may have been difficult for the audience to understand. In Victorian times, the drum and pan pipes were the instruments of choice. Today, most professors work solo, since the need for a bottler became less important when street performing with the show gave way to paid engagements at private parties or public events. In modern shows the audience is encouraged to participate, calling out to the characters on the stage to warn them of danger or clue them in to what is going on behind their backs.


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"[Pulcinella] went down particularly well with Restoration British audiences, fun-starved after years of Puritanism. We soon changed Punch's name, transformed him from a marionette to a hand puppet, and he became, really, a spirit of Britain – a subversive maverick who defies authority, a kind of puppet equivalent to our political cartoons."

—Punch and Judy showman Glyn Edwards.[1]

The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte. The figure of Punch is derived from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicized to Punchinello.[3] He is a variation on the same themes as the Lord of Misrule and the many Trickster figures found in mythologies across the world. Punch's wife was originally called "Joan."

Plaque commemorating the first recorded performance of Punch and Judy on St Paul's in Covent Garden

The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on 9 May 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Punch's UK birthday.[4] Punch and Judy began to emerge during the Restoration Period (beginning in 1660),[5] a period during which art and theatre thrived. King Charles II took the throne in 1660 and replaced Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, and theatre culture began to change. Cromwell strictly adhered to the Puritan belief that theatre was immoral and should be banned. King Charles II's ascension to the throne ended the Interregnum (means "between kings", a time with no monarchs on the throne) and ushered in a more tolerant period of art and culture. The diarist Samuel Pepys observed a marionette show featuring an early version of the Punch character in Covent Garden in London. It was performed by Italian puppet showman Pietro Gimonde, a.k.a. "Signor Bologna." Pepys described the event in his diary as "an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty."[6]

In the British Punch and Judy show, Punch speaks in a distinctive squawking voice, produced by a contrivance known as a swazzle or swatchel which the professor holds in his mouth, transmitting his gleeful cackle. This gives Punch a vocal quality as though he were speaking through a kazoo. Joan's name was changed to Judy because "Judy" was easier to enunciate with the swazzle than "Joan". So important is Punch's signature sound that it is a matter of some controversy within Punch and Judy circles as to whether a "non-swazzled" show can be considered a true Punch and Judy Show. Other characters do not use the swazzle, so the Punchman has to switch back and forth while still holding the device in his mouth.

Punch and Judy shows were traditionally marionette shows when they were brought over from Italy, but were later reinvented in the glove puppet style to accommodate the characters' violent movements without the obstruction of marionette strings.[7] Glove puppets were often operated by placing the thumb in one arm, the middle, ring, and pinky fingers in the other arm, and the index finger in the head.

In the early 18th century, the puppet theatre starring Punch was at its height, with showman Martin Powell attracting sizable crowds at both his Punch's Theatre at Covent Garden and earlier in provincial Bath, Somerset.[3] Powell has been credited with being "largely responsible for the form taken by the drama of Punch and Judy".[8] In 1721, a puppet theatre opened in Dublin that ran for decades. The cross-dressing actress Charlotte Charke ran the successful but short-lived Punch's Theatre in the Old Tennis Court at St. James's, Westminster, presenting adaptations of Shakespeare as well as plays by herself, her father Colley Cibber, and her friend Henry Fielding. Fielding eventually ran his own puppet theatre under the pseudonym Madame de la Nash to avoid the censorship concomitant with the Theatre Licensing Act of 1737.[9]

Punch was extremely popular in Paris and, by the end of the 18th century, he was also playing in Britain's American colonies, where even George Washington bought tickets for a show. However, marionette productions were expensive and cumbersome to mount and transport, presented in empty halls, the back rooms of taverns, or within large tents at England's yearly agricultural events at Bartholomew Fair and Mayfair. In the latter half of the 18th century, marionette companies began to give way to glove-puppet shows, performed from within a narrow, lightweight booth by one puppeteer, usually with an assistant, or "bottler," to gather a crowd and collect money. These shows might travel through country towns or move from corner to corner along busy London streets, giving many performances in a single day. The character of Punch adapted to the new format, going from a stringed comedian who might say outrageous things to a more aggressive glove-puppet who could do outrageous—and often violent—things to the other characters.

A Punch and Judy show attracts a family audience In Thornton Hough, Merseyside, England

The mobile puppet booth of the late 18th- and early 19th-century Punch and Judy glove-puppet show could be easily fitted-up and was originally covered in checked bed ticking or whatever inexpensive cloth might come to hand. Later Victorian booths were gaudier affairs, particularly those used for Christmas parties and other indoor performances. In the 20th century, however, red-and-white-striped puppet booths became iconic features on the beaches of many English seaside and summer holiday resorts. Such striped cloth is the most common covering today, wherever the show might be performed.[4]

A more substantial change came over time to the show's target audience. The show was originally intended for adults, but it changed into primarily a children's entertainment in the late Victorian era. Ancient members of the show's cast ceased to be included, such as the Devil and Punch's mistress "Pretty Polly," when they came to be seen as inappropriate for young audiences.

The story changes, but some phrases remain the same for decades or even centuries. For example, Punch dispatches his foes each in turn and still squeaks his famous catchphrase: "That's the way to do it!"[2] The term "pleased as Punch" is derived from Punch and Judy; specifically, Mr. Punch's characteristic sense of gleeful self-satisfaction.

Modern British performances of Punch and Judy are no longer exclusively the traditional seaside children's entertainments which they had become. They can now be seen at carnivals, festivals, birthday parties, and other celebratory occasions. The association of Punch with the seaside is still very strong however, as demonstrated by Wisbech Town council's annual Wis-BEACH day each summer, "all the seaside favourites are on show, including a donkey, deck chairs, Punch and Judy and fish and chips"[10]


Punch and Judy, taken in Islington, north London.

The characters in a Punch and Judy show are not fixed. They are similar to the cast of a soap opera or a folk tale such as Robin Hood: the principal characters must appear, but the lesser characters are included at the discretion of the performer. New cast may be added and older cast dropped as the tradition changes.

Along with Punch and Judy, the cast of characters usually includes their baby, a hungry crocodile, a clown, an officious policeman, and a prop string of sausages.[11] The devil and the generic hangman Jack Ketch may still make their appearances but, if so, Punch will always get the better of them. The cast of a typical Punch and Judy show today will include:

  • Mr. Punch
  • Judy
  • The Baby
  • The Constable (a.k.a. Policeman Jack)
  • Joey the Clown
  • The Crocodile
  • The Skeleton
  • The Doctor

Characters once regular but now occasional include:

  • Toby the Dog
  • The Ghost
  • The Lawyer
  • Hector the Horse
  • Pretty Polly
  • The Hangman (a.k.a. Jack Ketch)
  • The Devil
  • The Beadle
  • Jim Crow ("The Black Man")
  • Mr. Scaramouche
  • The Servant (or "The Minstrel")
  • The Blind Man

Other characters included Boxers, Chinese Plate Spinners, topical figures, a trick puppet with an extending neck (the "Courtier"), and a monkey. A live Toby the Dog was once a regular featured novelty routine, sitting on the playboard and performing "with" the puppets.

Punch wears a brightly coloured (traditionally red) jester's motley and sugarloaf hat with a tassel. He is a hunchback whose hooked nose almost meets his curved, jutting chin. He carries a stick (called a slapstick) as large as himself, which he freely uses upon most of the other characters in the show. Judy wears an apron, a blue dress, and a bonnet and always tries to tell Punch off when he uses the slapstick


Mr. Punch

Glyn Edwards has likened the story of Punch and Judy to the story of Cinderella.[12] He points out that there are parts of the Cinderella story which everyone knows, namely the cruel step sisters, the invitation to the ball, the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, Cinderella's dress turning to rags at midnight, the glass slipper left behind, the prince searching for its owner, and the happy ending. None of these elements can be omitted and the famous story still be told. The same principle applies to Punch and Judy. Everyone knows that Punch mishandles the baby, that Punch and Judy quarrel and fight, that a policeman comes for Punch and gets a taste of his stick, that Punch has a gleeful run-in with a variety of other figures and takes his stick to them all, that eventually he faces his final foe (which might be a hangman, the devil, a crocodile, or a ghost). Edwards contends that a proper Punch and Judy show requires these elements or the audience will feel let down.[12]

Peter Fraser writes, "the drama developed as a succession of incidents which the audience could join or leave at any time, and much of the show was impromptu."[13] This was elaborated by George Speaight, who explained that the plotline "is like a story compiled in a parlour game of Consequences ... the show should, indeed, not be regarded as a story at all but a succession of encounters."[14] Robert Leach makes it clear that "the story is a conceptual entity, not a set text: the means of telling it, therefore, are always variable."[15] Rosalind Crone asserts that the story needed to be episodic so that passersby on the street could easily join or leave the audience during a performance.[16]

Much emphasis is often placed on the first printed script of Punch and Judy, in 1827. It was based on a show by travelling performer Giovanni Piccini, illustrated by George Cruikshank, and written by John Payne Collier. This is the only surviving script of a performance, and its accuracy is questioned. The performance was stopped frequently to allow Collier and Cruikshank to write and sketch and, in the words of Speaight, Collier is someone of whom "the full list of his forgeries has not yet been reckoned, and the myths he propagated are still being repeated. (His) 'Punch and Judy' is to be warmly welcomed as the first history of puppets in England, but it is also sadly to be examined as the first experiment of a literary criminal."[17]

The tale of Punch and Judy varies from puppeteer to puppeteer, as previously with Punchinello and Joan, and it has changed over time. Nonetheless, the skeletal outline is often recognizable. It typically involves Punch behaving outrageously, struggling with his wife Judy and the baby, and then triumphing in a series of encounters with the forces of law and order (and often the supernatural), interspersed with jokes and songs.

Typical 21st-century performance

A typical show as performed currently in the UK will start with the arrival of Mr. Punch, followed by the introduction of Judy. They may well kiss and dance before Judy requests Mr. Punch to look after the baby. Punch will fail to carry out this task appropriately. It is rare for Punch to hit his baby these days, but he may well sit on it in a failed attempt to "babysit", or drop it, or even let it go through a sausage machine. In any event, Judy will return, will be outraged, will fetch a stick, and the knockabout will commence. A policeman will arrive in response to the mayhem and will himself be felled by Punch's slapstick. All this is carried out at breakneck farcical speed with much involvement from a gleefully shouting audience. From here on anything goes.

Joey the Clown might appear and suggest, "It's dinner time." This will lead to the production of a string of sausages, which Mr. Punch must look after, although the audience will know that this really signals the arrival of a crocodile whom Mr. Punch might not see until the audience shouts out and lets him know. Punch's subsequent comic struggle with the crocodile might then leave him in need of a Doctor who will arrive and attempt to treat Punch by walloping him with a stick until Punch turns the tables on him. Punch may next pause to count his "victims" by laying puppets on the stage, only for Joey the Clown to move them about behind his back in order to frustrate him. A ghost might then appear and give Mr. Punch a fright before it too is chased off with a slapstick.

In more uncritical times, a hangman would arrive to punish Mr. Punch, only to himself be tricked into sticking his head in the noose. "Do you do the hanging?" is a question often asked of performers. Some will include it where circumstances warrant (such as for an adult audience) but most do not. Some will choose to include it whatever the circumstances and will face down any critics. Finally, the show will often end with the Devil arriving for Mr. Punch (and possibly to threaten his audience as well). Punch—in his final gleefully triumphant moment—will win his fight with the Devil, bring the show to a rousing conclusion, and earn a round of applause.

Plots reflect their own era

A traditional Punch and Judy show dating from World War II with the addition of a Hitler Character as a figure of derision to reflect the times. Taken at the History On Wheels Museum, Eton Wick, UK.

Punch and Judy might follow no fixed storyline, as with the tales of Robin Hood, but there are episodes common to many recorded versions. It is these set piece encounters or "routines" which are used by performers to construct their own Punch and Judy shows. A visit to a Punch and Judy Festival at Punch's "birthplace" in London's Covent Garden will reveal a whole variety of changes that are wrung by puppeteers from this basic material. Scripts have been published at different times since the early 19th century, but none can be claimed as the definitive traditional script of Punch and Judy. Each printed script reflects the era in which it was performed and the circumstances under which it was printed.

The various episodes of the show are performed in the spirit of outrageous comedy—often provoking shocked laughter—and are dominated by the anarchic clowning of Mr. Punch. Just as the Victorian version of the show drew on the morality of its day, so also the Punch & Judy College of Professors considers that the 20th- and 21st-century versions of the tale have changed into something akin to a primitive version of The Simpsons, in which a bizarre family is used as a vehicle for grotesque visual comedy and a sideways look at contemporary society.

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In my opinion the street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs from the realities of life which would lose its hold upon the people if it were made moral and instructive. I regard it as quite harmless in its influence, and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct. It is possible, I think, that one secret source of pleasure very generally derived from this performance… is the satisfaction the spectator feels in the circumstance that likenesses of men and women can be so knocked about, without any pain or suffering.

— Charles Dickens, Letter to Mary Tyler, 6 November 1849, from The Letters of Charles Dickens Vol V, 1847–1849

An awareness of the prevalence of domestic abuse, and how Punch and Judy could be seen to make light of this, threatened Punch and Judy performances in the UK and other English-speaking countries for a time,[18] but the show is having one of its cyclical recurrences[19] and can now be seen in England, Wales, and Ireland—and also in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In 2001, the characters were honoured in the UK with a set of British commemorative postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail.[20] In a 2006 UK poll, the public voted Punch and Judy onto the list of icons of England.[21]


Despite Punch's unapologetic murders throughout the performances, it is still a comedy. The humour is aided by a few things. Rosalind Crone (2006, p. 1065) suggests that, since the puppets are carved from wood, their facial expressions cannot change, but are stuck in the same exaggerated pose, which helps to deter any sense of realism and to distance the audience.[16] The use of the swazzle also helps to create humour, and that the swazzled sound of Punch's voice takes the cruelty out of Punch.[22] According to Crone, a third aspect that helped make the violence humorous was that Punch's violence toward his wife was prompted by her own violence toward him.[16] In this aspect, he retains some of his previous hen-pecked persona. This would suggest that, since Punch was merely acting violently out of self-defence, it was okay. This is a possible explanation for the humour of his violence toward his wife, and even towards others who may have somehow "had it coming."[16] This suggestion better explains the humour of the violence toward the baby. Other characters that had to incur the wrath of Punch varied depending on the punchman, but the most common were the foreigner, the blind man, the publican, the constable, and the devil.[16]

Published scripts

Punch is primarily an oral tradition, adapted by a succession of exponents from live performances rather than authentic scripts, and in constant evolution. There exist, however, some early published scripts of varying authenticity.

In 1828, the critic John Payne Collier published a Punch and Judy script under the title The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy.[23] The script was illustrated by the well-known caricaturist George Cruikshank. Collier said his script was based on the version performed by the "professor" Giovanni Piccini in the early 19th century, and Piccini himself had begun performing in the streets of London in the late 18th century. The Collier/Cruickshank Punch has been republished in facsimile several times. Collier's later career as a literary forger has cast some doubt on the authenticity of the script, which is rather literary in style and may well have been tidied up from the rough-and-tumble street-theatre original.

A transcript of a typical Punch and Judy show in London of the 1840s can be found in Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor.


Musical theatre

In 2013, a musical inspired by the Punch and Judy characters premiered in Sweden at Arbisteatern in Norrköping, Carnival Tale (Tivolisaga) written by Johan Christher Schütz and Johan Pettersson.[24] With a storyline loosely inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a travelling carnival arrives in a small town and the foreign carnival's star jester Punch falls in love with the Mayor's daughter Judy. The original Swedish cast recording is freely available online and features Disney Channel Scandinavia presenter Linnéa Källström as Judy. The story and songs originate from a pop band called Punch and Judy Show, started by Schütz and Pettersson in the late 1990s.[25]


Judy and Punch is a 2019 Australian film written and directed by Mirrah Foulkes which retells the plot of the puppet show as a black comedy-drama. It stars Damon Herriman as "Punch" and Mia Wasikowska as "Judy". The film first premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The plot reimagines the classic puppet show as a revenge tale, in which Judy and Punch are married puppeteers in the fictional town of Seaside, with a popular show about themselves. Following the traditional element of the show, Punch's carelessness leads to the death of their baby, prompting a fight between he and Judy. However, having been thought dead after Punch's beating, Judy survives with the help of village outcasts and decides to enact her revenge on her husband, who has scapegoated their servants. The film took Best Original Music Score and Best Actor (Herriman) at the 9th AACTA Awards, and had seven other nominations.

In popular culture

Audio drama


  • In FoxTrot, an American comic strip, character Jason Fox plays a prank on his sister Paige by pretending to do a Punch and Judy show using only Judy. When Paige asked, "Where's Punch?" Jason had the Judy puppet "punch" Paige in the nose.
  • Punch and Judy are Agatha's adoptive parents in Girl Genius (under the pseudonyms Adam and Lilith Clay). They were also companions and creations of the legendary Heterodyne Boys, one of which was Agatha's biological father, and are depicted as characters in traveling theatre troupes depicting the Heterodyne Boys' exploits.
  • The DC Comics villains Punch and Jewellee {originally introduced as antagonists to Charlton Comics' Captain Atom, later acquired by DC}, wearing greasepaint and harlequin clothing styled after Punch and Judy puppets, appeared regularly in the pages of Suicide Squad.
  • In Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin, the comic Explorers on the Moon features the Captain Haddock telling the two bumbling detectives, known as Thomson and Thompson, "they need two punch and judy men like you on the pier". To which the Thomsons demand an apology.
  • In 1994, DC Comics under its imprint Vertigo published the graphic novel "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch," written by Neil Gaiman, and illustrated and designed by Dave McKean.


  • In the Marx Brothers' comedy film Monkey Business (1931), Harpo joins a live Punch & Judy show (performed by an uncredited Al Flosso, a famous American Punchman) while trying to avoid capture by the crew members of the ship he has stowed away on.
  • In the movie Charade (1963), Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn watch a Punch and Judy show in a Paris park.
  • The Ingmar Bergman film The Silence (1963, or Tystnaden) features a boy, Johan, who plays with Punch and Judy dolls.
  • In The Wicker Man (1973) policeman Neil Howie knocks out one of the villagers to steal his Punch costume and infiltrate a local parade.
  • In the film Time Bandits (1981), a Punch and Judy show is seen when the characters are transported back in time.
  • The horror film Dolls (1987), by director Stuart Gordon, features a young girl named Judy, who is gifted with a Punch doll that comes to life and protects her.
  • In the animated movie The Little Mermaid (1989), the protagonist interacts with a Punch and Judy show while exploring the town.
  • In The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Scrooge walks past a Punch and Judy show during the "Scrooge" number, and one of the puppets joins his Muppet Punchman in singing part of the song.
  • At the beginning of the holiday film The Santa Clause (1994), Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen) spends Christmas Eve at the North Pole in a suite that includes a self-operating Punch and Judy puppet set; the pair momentarily break the fourth wall during their performance to exclaim in would-be shock at the sight of Calvin in his boxers.
  • In the film 102 Dalmatians (2000), Chloe, Kevin, several of the dogs, and Waddlesworth the parrot attend a Punch and Judy show, which is disrupted when Oddball the spotless Dalmatian puppy attempts to steal a spotted sweater from one of the puppets.
  • In Land of the Dead (2005), a group of slum children watch a rudimentary Punch and Judy-inspired show where a zombie puppet gets beaten by a human puppet.
  • The dolls appear in Gone Girl (2014), as part of the clue and suspected "murder" weapon.
  • Tony Hancock plays a professor in The Punch and Judy Man (Released 8th. April, 1963)
  • In the Albert Finney musical "Scrooge" a Punch & Judy man is one of the debtors who later joins in the song "Thank You Very Much"


  • Game designer John Tynes created a role-playing game called Puppetland based on the Punch and Judy shows and stories.


  • Edward Picot created a five-part puppet-animation of the Punch and Judy story called The Calamitous Tale of Mr Punch[27]


  • In Jan Struther's March 1938 Mrs. Miniver story ("On Hampstead Heath"), the family take in a Punch and Judy:[28] "The baby yelled and was flung out of the window; Judy scolded and was bludgeoned to death; the beadle, the doctor, and the hangman tried in turn to perform their professional duties and were outrageously thwarted; Punch, cunning, violent and unscrupulous, with no virtues whatever except humour and vitality, came out triumphant in the end. And all the children, their faces upturned in the sun like a bed of pink daisies, laughed and clapped and shouted with delight."[29]
  • In Diana Gabaldon's 2011 novel The Scottish Prisoner, Jamie Fraser watches a Punch and Judy show in London in 1760.
  • Charles Dickens' novel The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) features the Punch and Judy performing partners Mr. Codlin and Short Trotters.
  • The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch (1994), a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean, explores a boy's memories triggered by a Punch and Judy show.
  • Russell Hoban's novel Riddley Walker (1980) utilizes Punch and Judy characters as quasi-political symbols.
  • Punch, Judy, and several other traditional characters figure prominently in the plot of Christopher Fowler's novel Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood: A Peculiar Crimes Mystery (2011), which centers on a re-creation of real life crimes depicted in a Punch and Judy show.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' children's novel The Magicians of Caprona (1980), a Punch and Judy show is a part of an important series of events.
  • In The Anubis Gates (1983) by Tim Powers, the clown-magician Horrabin is introduced performing a morbid version of the Punch story.
  • In Rivers of London (US title Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch the main antagonist is the ghost of Mr. Punch and murders in a style that mirrors the Punch and Judy story.
  • A Punch and Judy show was featured in M.R. James's story, "The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance".
  • A character in the Gillian Flynn novel, Gone Girl (as well as the 2014 film of the same name), receives Punch and Judy dolls as a gift.
  • In John Masefield's 1935 novel, The Box of Delights the main character Kay Harker meets the centuries-old Cole Hawlings who performs his Punch and Judy show several times through the novel.
  • The Punch and Judy show is popular in the town of Mejis in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.
  • In the Terry Pratchett novel Dodger, Punch and Judy is mentioned several times, usually with nothing but disgust from the titular character, who finds no humour from something he has seen play out many times in the rookeries of Dickensian London.
  • The Punches, Mr. Punch and his wife, are a troublesome couple prone to domestic violence calls that become neighbors and thorns in the side of DCI Jack Spratt in The Fourth Bear, the second Nursery Crimes novel by Jasper Fforde published in 2006.
  • The short-story “Punch” in Robert Coover’s 2005 collection A Child Again is a parody of Punch and Judy narrated by the point of view of a manipulated Punch
  • In "Gobbolino the Witch's Cat" by Ursula Moray Williams Gobbolino works as a Toby Dog in a Punch and Judy show until he is "outed" as a witch's cat



  • The Judybats, an alternative rock band from Knoxville, Tennessee, took their name from a song written by a friend of theirs, which contained the line "punch me with a judybat" in a punning allusion to Punch and Judy shows.


  • Early concepts of Pink Floyd's rock opera The Wall centered on the characters of Punch and Judy. These later became Pink and his unnamed wife.
  • Mr. Punch appears in a number of songs, represented as a lingering villain, on the Indelicates' 2017 album Juniverbrecher.


  • The American vocal group The Cascades released the song "Punch and Judy" (1963), about a girl who always makes a fool of her boyfriend.[30]
  • The British band XTC recorded two versions of a song called "Punch and Judy" during the sessions for their 1982 album English Settlement.[31]
  • The British rock band Marillion had a #29 hit in the UK in 1984 with "Punch and Judy", which satirised marital strife.
  • The English rock band The Stranglers included a song on their 1984 album Aural Sculpture called "Punch & Judy."
  • The English alternative rock band The Lightning Seeds included a song called "Punch and Judy" on their 1994 album Jollification, which addressed issues of domestic violence.
  • The American singer Elliott Smith included a song called "Punch and Judy" on his 1997 album Either/Or.
  • The British alternative rock band The Househunters released a song called "Punch and Judy's Crocodile" on their 1988 album "Feeding Frenzy".
  • The music video for the song "Life in Technicolor II" by the British rock band Coldplay, on the 2009 Prospekt's March EP, features the band as puppets making an appearance in a Punch and Judy show to perform the song on the stage. Punch and Judy later show up performing motorcycle stunts across the stage.[32]

Operas and stage productions

  • Punch and Judy inspired a 1967 opera of the same name by Harrison Birtwistle.
  • The classic version of the Punch and Judy show is done at the Texas Renaissance Festival every year in the Sherwood Forest area of the festival. It features all the classic characters and it is done in classic format and stays true to how it was done in the Victorian age.
  • In February 2012 a London-based theatre company Improbable performed a string of shows at the Barbican Theatre London, called The Devil & Mr Punch which is an adaptation of the Punch & Judy story.[33]


  • Punch, the former British humour magazine, was named after Mr. Punch, and featured his typical likeness as its logo.


  • One of the episodes of the British sitcom Are You Being Served? is entitled "The Punch and Judy Affair" in which the cast plans to put on a life-sized Punch and Judy show.
  • In Bewitched, Season 8, Episode 8, annoyed with a violent Punch and Judy skit on a television show whose advertising is handled by her father, Tabitha zaps herself onto the set to help Judy, and becomes an instant hit with the sponsor, who wants her to continue to be part of the show, despite her parents' objections.
  • The 1992 children's television series Big Comfy Couch frequently had puppets resembling Punch and Judy called Paunch and Moody.
  • In the Japanese anime Cowboy Bebop, the presenters of the Big Shot TV show are named Punch and Judy.
  • In the Doctor Who serial Snakedance, a Punch and Judy show is briefly recreated despite the alien setting. The only difference to the traditional show is that the Crocodile is replaced with the snake-like alien Mara.
  • The Doctor also used a puppet of Mr. Punch to 'sonic' the Ice Governess in the Doctor Who Christmas Special The Snowmen (2012).
  • The Doctor is himself (along with one of his old foes - a Monoid) seen as a participant in an alien version of a Punch and Judy show in the Christmas Special The Time of the Doctor (2013).
  • In Season 2, episode 1 of Luther features a killer who wears a Mr. Punch mask, and DCI John Luther refers to him, accordingly.
  • A Punch and Judy show is a running theme, and its professor an important character, in the Midsomer Murders episode "Destroying Angel".
  • A Punch and Judy show is a running theme and its unknown professor the mastermind in The Avengers episode "Look — (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) — But There Were These Two Fellers..." (broadcast on TV on 4 December 1968 and later adapted for the South African radio series as "Stop Me If You've Heard This ...")
  • Two characters, one named Punch and one named Judy, appeared in nine episodes of The Batman as henchmen of the Joker.
  • The two appeared as security of the "Puppet Government" in The Goodies episode "The Goodies Rule – O.K.?".
  • Mr. Punch was seen in one of the idents for the now defunct channel BBC Choice.
  • A Punch and Judy puppet show was featured in the Season 4, Episode 15 of Have Gun Will Travel called "The Mountebank" (also known as "The Puppeteer").
  • Punch and Judy appear in CGI in Thomas & Friends in the Season 20 episode "The Way She Does It".
  • Dutch children's programme De film van Ome Willem (1974-1989), had a Punch & Judy-show in the halftime-slot. Their latter appearances were integrated in the plotlines.


  • The Punch cigar brand was named after Mr. Punch, and features him on the label


Origin of the characters

See also


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  1. ^ a b .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}"Punch and Judy around the world". The Telegraph. 11 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Mr Punch celebrates 350 years of puppet anarchy". BBC. 11 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Wheeler, R. Mortimer (1911). "Punch (puppet)" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 648–649.
  4. ^ a b Patterson, Alice. "All About Punch And Judy". Oddle Entertainment Agency. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ "V&A · That's the Way to Do it! A History of Punch & Judy". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Friday 9th May, 1660". Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  7. ^ Philpott, A. R. (1969). Dictionary of Puppetry.
  8. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSeccombe, Thomas (1896). "Powell, Martin". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  9. ^ Cleary, Thomas R. (1 January 2006). Henry Fielding: A Political Writer. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-88920-858-2.
  10. ^ "Video - Sun and sand at WisBEACH". Fenland Citizen. 30 September 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  11. ^ "A Brief History of Punch and Judy (with an introduction to the characters)". Archived from the original on 23 November 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  12. ^ a b Edwards, Glyn. (2000) Successful Punch and Judy, Second Edition 2011. Worthing: The Fedora Group. ISBN 9780956718914. p. 19.
  13. ^ Fraser, Peter (1970) Punch and Judy. London: B.T Batsford. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. ISBN 0-7134-2284-X. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 71-110085. p. 8.
  14. ^ Speaight, George. (1955) Punch and Judy: A History, Revised Edition 1970. London: Studio Vista Ltd. ISBN 0-289-79785-3. p. 78.
  15. ^ Leach, Robert. (1985) The Punch & Judy Show: History, Tradition and Meaning. London: Batsford Academic and Educational; Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0713447842
  16. ^ a b c d e Crone, Rosalind (2006). "Mr and Mrs Punch in Nineteenth-Century England." The Historical Journal, 49(4) pp. 1055–1082.
  17. ^ Speaight (1970), p. 82.
  18. ^ "Puppet show faces knockout punch?". BBC News. London. 8 November 1999. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  19. ^ "around the world with mr. punch » Silly-Season-On-Sea". 14 August 2008. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  20. ^ ""Stamp of Approval for Punch and Judy", BBC News, 20 August 2001". BBC News. 20 August 2001. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  21. ^ "New icons of Englishness unveiled" (27 April 2006). BBC News. 11 June 2015.
  22. ^ Proschan, Frank (1981). "Puppet Voices and Interlocutors: Language in Folk Puppetry." The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 94, No. 374, Folk Drama (Oct.–Dec. 1981), pp.527–555. The American Folklore Society.
  23. ^ "Punch & Judy: 1832 Book pdf file". Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  24. ^ "Tidernas saga för vår tid (Timeless tale for our times" (26 August 2013). Norrköpings Tidningar. 26 August 2013.
  25. ^ "Förmiddag i P4 Östergötland (AM in P4 Östergötland)" (1 March 2019). SR Swedish Broadcasting Corporation P4 SR Östergötland. 1 March 2019.
  26. ^ Q&A With The Springheel Saga Creators Robert Valentine and Jack Bowman. Frost Magazine.
  27. ^ "The Calamitous Tale of Mr Punch". Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  28. ^ Light, Alison. Forever England: Femininity, Literature, and Conservatism Between the Wars. Psychology Press, 1991. pp.147–8 ISBN 0415016614
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  34. ^ "Full text of David Cameron's victory speech". Guardian. London. 6 December 2005. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  35. ^ Hartcher, Peter (10 February 2017). "Canberra's Punch and Judy show goes on, while the rest of the country couldn't care less". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 February 2017.

Further reading

  • Punch and Judy: A Short History with the Original Dialogue by John Payne Collier, illustrated by George Cruikshank (1929, 2006) Dover Books
  • Mr. Punch by Philip John Stead (1950) Evans Brothers Ltd.
  • The Art of the Puppet by Bil Baird (1965) Ridge Press/MacMillan
  • Punch & Judy: A Play for Puppets by Ed Emberley (1965) Little, Brown
  • Punch and Judy: Its Origin and Evolution by Michael Byrom (1972, 1988) DaSilva Puppet Books
  • Punch and Judy: Inside the Booth. Geoff Felix, 2016.

External links

1 Annotation

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys and Punch in England

"The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on 9 May 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Punch's UK birthday. The diarist Samuel Pepys observed a marionette show featuring an early version of the Punch character in Covent Garden in London. It was performed by an Italian puppet showman, Pietro Gimonde, a.k.a. 'Signor Bologna.; Pepys described the event in his diary as 'an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty.' (… )

Pepys saw this "Italian puppet play" again at a stage in Whitehall Palace at a performance before the King.

8 October 1662 Pepys's diary reccords he is "at White Hall with the King, before whom the puppet plays I saw this summer in Covent-garden are acted this night." ( )

In October 1660 a small stage was constructed in the Queen's Guard Chamber at Whitehall, probably for this performance by puppets; as a reward for the performance, Signor Bologna alias Policinella was presented with a gold chain and medal. (E. Boswell, Restoration court stage, pp. 56-7, 116).

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