What is a traditional
Punch and Judy show?

The glove puppet show of Punch and Judy first came to London some time in the 1780's. Throughout the 19th and 20th century it was popular as a street entertainment and at seaside resorts. Today it still remains popular when it appears at fetes, parties and festivals. The following is a description of a typical show, although there are many variations and elaborations.

Generally a Punch and Judy show will commence with some sort of warm up to get the audience involved in the show. Shows often start with the audience shouting out to wake Mr. Punch up. He comes up bowing and clapping and calls for his wife Judy. The shrill sound of his voice is made with an instrument called a swazzle. Without it the show is not quite authentic.

Judy pops up and is very bossy to her husband. Nevertheless Punch asks for a kiss. They end up giving each other an exaggerated kiss, after which Judy then expects Punch to look after the baby (The result of what happened last time they had a kiss).

 

Punch teaches the baby to walk. But he is very rough with it and it starts crying. This gets Punch flustered and he ends up banging it or rolling it along the stage and eventually throwing it up into the air.

Judy comes up and finding the baby missing she admonishes Punch and teaches him a lesson by hitting him. Punch hits her back with his slapstick and knocks here down.

As a result up comes a constable.
The constable is played as being very officious and at first has trouble finding Punch. And so you have the "over here" and "he's behind you" routine. Eventually he catches Punch and tries to take him to jail but Punch knocks him down with his stick.

Then up pops Joey the clown.
With Joey you have a lot of bobbing up and down as he teases Mr. Punch. Eventually Joey stops this and offers to share some sausages with Punch.

When Joey goes down to get a frying pan a crocodile sneaks up to steal the sausages. This part of the show gets the children shouting out: "Crocodile!". Eventually the crocodile steals the sausages and swallows Punch's stick.

After the crocodile bites Punch on the nose up comes the Devil. Punch hides but eventually the Devil catches a reluctant Punch by poking him with his fork. The Devil asks Punch if he has been very wicked, which Punch denies. This gives rise to the "Oh yes you did ... oh no you didn't" business. After this the devil can prod Punch "down below" and end the show or Punch can retrieve his stick and fight the devil.


At the end of the show up comes Joey to say farewell. He finds that Punch has gone and, as we all know, there is no show without Punch so it must be the end of the show. Joey calls Punch to come back up and say good bye. They accidently knock each other on the head as they bow and finish the show squabbling.