That's The Way To Do It!
Today is Punch's 352nd birthday- on 9th May 1662 Pepys mentioned in his diary enjoying an Italian puppet show. At that time Punch was a stringed marionette called Pulcinella and was based on the Lord of Misrule. Likewise originally his wife was called Joan. She only became known as Judy later on. Nowadays Punch's familiar squawking voice is achieved by the puppeteer [known as The Professor] holding a swazzle on his tongue.
Originally the show was intended for an adult audience but switched to the more familiar child orientated format during the Victorian era. Although the core characters remain the same different ones have been introduced and withdrawn over time to keep it topical so that it continues to appeal. One recent addition has been a Health and Safety officer!
From time to time its content has courted controversy. In 2004 it was banned by a Cornish council for its depiction of "domestic abuse but generally its expected slapstick comedy is well received. Dickens summed up its appeal in 1849
"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"
It has withstood the test of time and long may the tradition continue!
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