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Punch and Judy

A stained glass illustration of Mr. Punch by Professor Ignorant

Punch and Judy is a popular British glove-puppet show for children, featuring Mr. Punch and his wife Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between Mr. Punch and one other character (the show is traditionally performed by a single puppeteer, known as a Professor, who of course can only perform two characters at a time).

Mr. Punch wears a jester's motley, is hunchbacked and his hooked nose almost meets his curved jutting chin. He carries a stick, as large as himself, which he freely uses upon all the other characters in the show. He speaks in a bizarre rasping voice, produced by a contrivance known as a swazzle or swatchel which the Professor holds in his mouth.

The Punch and Judy show has deep roots; it is ultimately based on the Italian commedia dell'arte, and the figure of Punch derives ultimately from the stock character of Pulcinello. Punch has lent his name to Punch, a long running British humour magazine.

A transcript of a typical Punch and Judy show in London of the 1840s can be found in Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor.

Featuring, as it does, a deformed, child-murdering, wife-beating psychopath who performs appalling acts of violence and cruelty upon all those around him without repercussion, it is greatly enjoyed by small children.

Punch and Judy is also the name of an opera by Harrison Birtwistle; see Punch and Judy (opera).

Tony Hancock appeared as the title character in the 1961 movie The Punch and Judy Man.

Punch & Judy is also the name of a song about marital strife from Marillion's 1984 album Fugazi.

Writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean collaborated on the graphic novel The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch: A Romance in 1994. Edited by Karen Berger, this meaningful tale of a boy whose memories are triggered by a Punch and Judy show is told in the slightly surrealistic style typical of the creators of The Sandman comic book series.