Why are Punch and Judy performers called Professors?
Are they allowed to use the title?

Many Punch and Judy performers style themselves Professor. This dates back to Victorian times, and earlier, when it was common for magicians and other such mountebanks to adopt fanciful titles to impress the public. Both Doctor and Professor were used frequently by Magicians (eg. Professor Hoffman). Of course in earlier times the boundaries between medicine and conjuring and science were not so clearly defined, and many performances of prestidigitation were presented as demonstrations of the wonders of science. As the public became better informed so the use of misleading titles was gradually abandoned by the magical fraternity. The term Professor was still retained to denote a particular expertise and many early jazz musicians used the title, as too did Punchmen who have always had a great pride in their peculiar skills. In fact Punch-Professor has now become the accepted term for this particular type of puppeteer. And it is quite legitimate to adopt the title Professor. While it is true that it is reserved for the most elevated posts in a British university (or for any teaching post in a US university) it can also be used in other contexts. It has other meanings apart from that of academic excellence - basically implying one who "professes" some ability or religious faith. The most general meaning is the following, taken from the Oxford English Dictionary: "Professor: (A title for) a teacher or exponent of a non-academic subject etc. joc."

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