Everyone knows that Punch and Judy is a puppet show. Ask people what it means to them and they will probably come out with similar ideas. They are likely to mention the crocodile, the policeman and the baby. They will probably mention that it is at the seaside. They might say that the booth has red and white stripes like the cover on a deck chair. Often they will say Mr Punch’s famous lines “That’s the way to do it!” in a squawky voice. For most people that’s all they know or indeed want to know about Punch and Judy.
If you are thinking about hiring a Punch and Judy show for an event or party you might want to look into things a little further. In that case here is a list of some of the ways Punch and Judy Shows vary:
- Height of the puppet booth. Many modern shows are low down as the puppeteer works the puppets at chest height. This is ideal for a party in someones home but not good for an outdoor show where there may be large crowds. In this case a show where the puppets are higher up and can easily be seen is much better.
- The covers on the booths are not all red and white stripes. There are variations and some proprietors choose their own colour schemes.
- The proscenium surrounding the puppet stage can be very plain in design or highly ornate. Some are quite magnificent an very pleasing to look at.
- The voice of Mr Punch is produced using a device called a swazzle. This produces distinctive high pitched sound. Not everyone uses a swazzle. The voice of Mr Punch is not authentic without the swazzle. Some of those who do use a swazzle are very audible and can make Mr punch talk quite clearly. Others are poor and hardly discernible.
- In some shows the slapstick has been removed and there is no knock about action which means there is no vitality. Punch and Judy should be vigorous and fast paced.
- Some shows rely on lots of verbal responding and jokes rather than visual comedy and action.
- The quality of the puppets used also varies. The best shows have hand carved wooden figures. Sometimes puppets made of latex or even papier mache are used. When Punch slaps his hand down on the play board a loud tap should be heard. This can’t be done with a plastic puppet. The best shows use proper wooden figures.
- The experience, ability and character of the performer also affects the show. Its easy to tell the difference between a show in the hands of a very experienced professor, who is competent in handling the puppets and can bring them to life compared to someone who is not very good. Enthusiasm is also important in delivering a good show and this too can vary.
These are just some of the ways to differentiate one show from another. Every Punch and Judy show is different. The appearance of the show and the actual performance of the show can be very different. Some Punch and Judy shows are brilliant in every respect whilst others may leave much to be desired. It pays to do your homework before booking.