WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
The Punch and Judy Club was conceived on Independence Day 2015 - quite literally "Born on the 4th July". Founded by a group of top class Punch and Judy performers keen to ensure Mr Punch’s future is as bright and jolly as his centuries old tradition demands.
Mr Punch is Britain’s National Puppet, and he has been delighting family audiences for over 350 years. He may be daft and silly, and lose the occasional argument with a crocodile, but the secret of his success is in the joy and laughter he brings whenever he is performed well.
Everyone loves a Punch and Judy Show! Membership includes some of the world’s finest performers and puppet makers and is currently by invitation only.
To maintain the highest possible standards of performance of the traditional Punch and Judy Show.
To educate and entertain the British public.
To archive and document Mr Punch’s history for future generations.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS!
WHERE DOES MR PUNCH COME FROM?
Punch and Judy has been rebranded a few times. He first came to England as a continental string puppet Pulcinella, from the Italian Commedia del’arte. His name was anglicized to Punchinello and then abbreviated to Punch. He’s even had a new wife, originally being married to a puppet called Joan. It’s thought that when the name Joanie was said in Punch’s distinctive squawking voice it was misheard as Judy, which, being much easier to pronounce with the swazzled voice, has stuck.
IS MR PUNCH BASED ON A REAL PERSON?
No he isn’t, though many masked actors played Pulcinella in the Commedia del’arte shows. However a number of the other characters in Punch and Judy are based on real people. Joey the Clown is modelled after the famous Regency and Victorian clown Joseph Grimaldi, star of Drury Lane. Grimaldi was the most famous entertainer of his day and Punch Professors were keen to capitalise on his success and include him in their shows. Victorian and Edwardian shows regularly included a hanging sequence, with Mr Punch escaping the noose and tricking the hangman. The hangman character was usually called Jack Ketch, based on an infamous executioner employed by Charles II.
YOU DON'T SEE HIM AT THE SEASIDE MUCH THESE DAYS DO YOU?
Many of us associate Punch and Judy, along with wonky deckchairs and sticks of rock, with the seaside. And Mr Punch can still be found on the sands these days, most notable on the historic seaside pitches of Weymouth and Llandudno. However the show has always gone with the crowds, and the Professors of the past only moved to the beaches during the Victorian era as the seaside holiday rose in popularity. With the rise of foreign travel the numbers of holiday makers on British beaches diminished, as did the number of Punch and Judy Shows. The Punch Professors moved on and found new audiences at fetes and fairs, in shopping centres and schools.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF MR PUNCH'S DOG?
The dog in the Punch and Judy show is called Toby, or occasionally Dog Toby. Originally a live performing dog, Toby was one of the stars of the show, sharing equal billing with Mr Punch. Nowadays he is a glove puppet character, and takes less of a prominent role.
CAN I HIRE PUNCH AND JUDY PUPPETS?
Two of our members, James Arnott and David Wilde, specialise in hiring puppets and performers for film, television and the stage. They can be contacted through puppethire.com