Mr Punch has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte. The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicised to Punchinello. He is a manifestation of the Lord of Misrule and Trickster figures of deep-rooted mythologies. Mr Punch's wife was originally called "Joan."Later later to become Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England in May 9, 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Punch's UK birthday.Samuel Pepys observed a marionette show featuring an early version of the Punch character in London's Covent Garden. It was performed by an Italian puppet showman." Pepys described the event in his diary as "an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty."In our British Punch and Judy show, Punch wears a brightly colored 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 as large as himself, which he freely uses upon most of the other characters in the show. He speaks in a distinctive squawking voice, produced by a swazzle orswatchel which the professor holds in his mouth, transmitting his gleeful cackle. 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.
While the 'Punch and Judy' Show is most well known from the Victorian Era, the character of Mr Punch is much older. Before this time Mr Punch was known as 'Punchinello' and was very popular in 18th century England. Even before this Mr Punch can be traced from France to England in the 1660's and from Italy to France in the 16th century! Simply the fact that we still see Mr Punch today is a testament to how loved this mischievous rascal is!!
The Punch and Judy Show
While there is no set script for a Punch and Judy show, most Punch and Judy shows contain the regular characters, Mr Punch and Judy (of course!), the Baby, the Policeman, Joey the clown and the Hangman for example. However there are many other Punch and Judy characters which can be included.
The shows are performed by a single puppeteer inside the booth, known since Victorian times as a "Professor" or "Punchman," and often assisted by a "Bottler", who 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, the audience is also encouraged to participate, calling out to the characters on the stage to warn them of danger, or clue them into what is going on behind their backs. Also nowadays most Professors work solo since the need for a bottler became less important when busking with the show gave way to paid engagements at private parties or public events.
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long suffering boyfriend of a punch and Judy lady!
Punch and Judy
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