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Theatre / Punch and Judy

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I did NOT see that coming!
"That's the way to do it!"
Mr. Punch

Punch and Judy is a traditional puppet show, most familiar to British children as a seaside attraction. It is generally played by a single puppetmaster called a 'Professor', with two characters on the stage at any one time. These include Mr. Punch, a hunchbacked jester with a squawking voice and a big stick; his long-suffering wife, Judy; their baby; an unnamed ghost; Joey the clown; the policeman, and a sausage-loving crocodile (sometimes named Snap).

As its history can be traced back to the 16th century, it makes all of the show's tropes Older Than Steam at least.


Punch And Judy provides examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries: People are often beaten up.
  • Audience Participation: The children are expected to reply to Mr. Punch's Catchphrase, "That's the way to do it" with a shout of "Oh no, it isn't!"
  • Black Comedy: So black that many modern versions are often heavily censored compared to more historical stagings.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "That's the way to do it!"
    • "HE'S BEHIND YOU!!"
    • "Who [insert random horrid act inflicted upon the baby by Punch]?"
  • Comedic Sociopath: Mr. Punch
  • Commedia dell'Arte: Punch is based on the Pulcinella character.
  • Hand Puppet: All of the characters, except the baby, though originally marionettes.
  • Head Bob: Traditionally the puppets don't have articulated mouths, and use head bobbing to indicate which one is speaking.
  • Ironic Echo: There's at least one rendition of the act where Punch ends up playing one trick too many on Snap the Crocodile, who promptly eats him (off-stage, of course) and returns repeating Mr Punch's "da-da-da" sound, culminating in a mock belch.
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  • Karma Houdini: In many versions, Punch is a psychopath who kills his own baby by throwing it out of a window, beats his wife to death with a stick, kills several other characters whom he encounters and finally outwits the devil himself to get away completely scot free.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The entire show, especially the violence, is played as outrageous comedy.
  • Slapstick: The style of the show, even named after the type of stick Punch uses.
  • Sole Survivor: In some tellings, a crocodile will be the one character Punch fails to kill.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In some shows Judy will get her hands on Punch's stick and beat him with it. Though this is usually followed by Punch snatching it back and beating her with it.
    • There was a TV short of an act that involved Punch playing dumb to try and get out of helping Judy put away some groceries because he wants something to eat. After Judy has put them all away herself, she finally asks what he wants — only to be told that he wanted the very things she put away. She then angrily beats him over the head with each (canned) item in question.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Punch.
  • Villain Protagonist: Guess who?


How well does it match the trope?

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