The Punch and Judy show itself (the main event) is about 25 minutes but it’s a really flexible format so I adjust the length to suit the audience really. For younger kids (4- to 5-year-olds) I usually keep it around the 20-minute mark. At parties and fetes I typically do a short magic show (20-25 mins) before starting the puppet show. For public events I like to play a little circus music, do a pre-show routine, or talk a little about Punch and Judy themselves (depending on the occasion). I can also offer close-up or table magic before or after the show.
One of the highlights for many people is getting to meet Mr Punch up close and give him a ‘high five’ so I always try to to a walk around when possible.
It depends on travel time, how many shows you want, whether I have to pay for parking, etc. Drop me an email or call and I’ll work out a price.
Absolutely! Have a Victorian Day coming up? Are you in the midst of KS1? Get in touch! Prof James will “roll-up, roll-up” to provide that authentic Punch and Judy experience!
Furthermore, if you would like me to give a little talk or maybe show some marionettes at the same time, just let me know!
LOL no! Occasionally newspapers and click-bait websites run stories about Punch & Judy getting “cancelled”. These tend to come from quotes taken out of context and intended to provoke outrage and engagement.
Whilst Mr Punch and Judy are both gross and revolting in a Roald Dahl-esque way, there is nothing in my show which supports of promotes abuse or domestic violence.
I reassure all my customers that they will be in for a traditional and historically informed experience but without anything that will give cause for complaint.
Contrary to popular belief, Punch and Judy has always evolved and adapted with the sensibilities of the times. A standard show now is very different to the sort of show you might have seen 50 years ago (which in turn would be very different to a show 50 years before that).
While the essence may remain the same, the story and script change with the times.
Mr Punch famously clonks the other puppets (and they clonk him back) with a slapstick. This is a long flat wooden instrument that makes a loud clapping noise. It is important to remember that a slapstick isn’t meant for hurting people; it is an over-the-top theatrical device with roots in 16th-century Italian theatre.
Artwork depicting Mr Punch with a club or bat is misrepresentative of the tradition.
Oh yes indeed! On 9 May 1662 Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary:
‘Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants.’
The ‘puppet play’ Samuel Pepys saw that day is considered to be a direct forerunner of the seaside Punch and Judy show we know and love so well. However, unlike today’s Punch and Judy, which is performed using glove puppets, this play was operated using marionettes (puppets controlled from above using wires and rods).
The show Pepys witnessed starred a charachter called Polichinello, a famous chararacter from Italian theatre who combined wit, sarcasam, and buffoonery – not a million miles away from the modern Mr Punch that can be seen at fetes and birthday parties all across the land to this very day.
Whilst it is not known exactly when Mr Punch and Co. made the switch from marionettes to glove puppets, we do know that several famous Punch and Judy tropes were in full effect right from the earliest days. These include the iconic squeaky voice, the encoounter with the devil, and the ‘big stick’!
Most professors agree that his name is Toby. 🙂