Punchman's tips

Your own Punch & Judy script


As suggested by Christopher van Der Craats
One way to approach the development of a Punch and Judy show is to break up the script into its traditional components and comparing how various people have dealt with each. From this you can cobble together a synthesis and develop variations.

Showman introductions
This can be done by the showman out of the booth, a special puppet or a bottler. Sometimes modern children need prompting as to how to behave during a Punch and Judy show.
For instance I recently saw a show where the performer told the children that when Punch did something naughty he would often say "That's the way to do it" and that when he did they should all yell out "That's NOT the way to do it". He had the children practice this. He then said that the parents at the back were just sitting there doing nothing and so told them we'll do it again but this time all the children at the front should turn around and watch to see which adults weren't calling out. Which they all did. This particular showman even had the children practicing to listen quietly, which was quite funny. The result was he had the audience well under his spell even before a puppet had appeared.

Punch Introductions
This is where Punch pops up and introduces himself to the audience.
This first sequence can set the tone for the rest of the show. generally it show be loud and frenetic. With Punch dancing about the stage clapping and bowing and making a lot of noise.

Punch and Toby the dog
Punch plays with Toby and usually has his nose bitten. This can involve a real dog trained to bark or bite as required, but which should never be hit by Punch.

Punch and Judy
This is the sequence in which Punch and Judy interact and usually involves her giving Punch the baby to look after. Sometimes it is Judy who is the violent partner and Punch simply more extreme than she. There are non violent versions of this sequence in which Judy can make fun of Punch's tendency to take things literally or to mistake words for similar sounding words.
After the baby sequence Judy pops up again and there is traditionally a knock down sequence. the non violent approach could have Judy going off to fetch a policeman.

Punch and the baby
This is where Punch plays with the baby and traditionally throws the baby out the window.
Punch plays with baby too roughly causing it to cry. Punch hits it on the playboard to stop it crying and eventually throws it out the window.
Today non violent variations are often performed. Punch can accidently drop the baby out the window. Or he can put it in the cupboard and forget where he put it.
I once performed this sequence singing "Rockabye baby" having the children sing along and thus inadvertently implicating them in Punch's crime when it came to "down will come baby cradle and all". Never do that.

Punch and policeman
This usually involves Punch being arrested. However Punch outwits the law. This traditionally involves the use of puns and rythmic repitition as the puppets exchange blows.

Punch and Joey the Clown
This can involve a counting sequence in which Punch assembles the bodies of those have already fallen to his blows and Joey moves them about as he counts them.
Joey can also be used to appear and disappear with Punch trying to hit Joey but always missing. This sequence is a very good demonstration of how the two hands of the puppeteer can work in conjunction to make the most of the glove puppet's capabilities.
Joey is often involved in the sausages sequence which exploits the glove puppets ability to hold objects.

Punch and the crocodile
The crocodile appearing behind Punch on one side of the stage and then the other offers a perfect opportunity for audience participation as they warn Punch. The crocodile can creep up behind Punch, slowly opening its jaws and duck away as soon as Punch turns around when warned by the audience.
The crocodile can be used to steal the sausages. It can grab them and have a bit of a tug of war with Punch before taking off with them.
The nose bite is a cause for Punch to call for the doctor.

Hangman
Jack Ketch tries to hang Punch but is tricked into hanging himself. This usualy involves Punch pretending not to know how to put his head into the noose with Ketch saying "higher up" and "lower down" (see Doctor) and ending up getting so frustrated he offers to show Punch how to do it. "No,no,no! That's not the way to do it!"
The body of Ketch is put into a coffin and taken away mistakenly for Punch.

Hector the horse
Punch goes for a ride and falls off and injures himself. This causes him to call for the doctor.
The puppet is essentially a hobby horse on a stick which can be made to buck quite effectively. If the Punch puppet has legs it can be made to sit properly on the horse and looks quite realistic.

Punch and the Doctor
This usually involves Punch hitting the doctor when he leans over to be examined.
If you are well practised you can lie the Punch puppet on the playboard remove your hand from the head and arms and put two fingers into the legs. This leaves Punch's head quite naturalstically on its side facing the audience and allows you to kick the Doctor at the appropriate moment.
This sequence involves the Doctor asking where the pain is while pointing at Punch's head.
Punch says "Lower down". So the doctor points to his legs, "Does it hurt here then"
Punch: "No higher up" . So the doctor points to his chest. "Well have you a stomach ache then?"
Punch: "No lower down." The Doctor moves to examine Punch there but Punch kicks him in the head. Docter: "Ouch! That hurts."
Punch: "That's funny me feel better now."

The ghost
This is an 'over there, over there' type sequence. It has been used as a prelude to the doctor sequence with Punch fainting from fright. The ghost has also been used for the counting sequence (see Joey the Clown). The ghost creeping up behind Punch can be handled similiarly to the crocodile. This puppet can also be given an elongating neck (see below)

Other puppets
These are the sort of acts which provide an interlude. Usually they exploit the characteristics of glove puppets which enable them to do things such as fight and hold things.
Stretching neck puppet.
This is a puppet with a long stick attached to the head which can be pushed up through the neck of the glove so that it looks as if its neck is growing longer and longer.
Pretty polly
This is a pretty girl with arms which hang loosely at her sides. When the puppet is rotated to and throw the arms swing flirtatiously about. She was originally used to test Punch's remorse at the death of Judy. The jokes this sequence allows can be subtle jokes to keep the adults entertained.
Father Christmas
A popular seasonal character. This puppet can be linked to the distribution of presents at Christmas parties.
Boxers
These puppets exploit the characteristics of the hand puppets in a very visual slapstick way.
Chinese plate juggling
Given that glove puppets allow for nearly full use of the hands there are many tricks of juggling and magic illusions which can be performed as part of the Punch and Judy show.




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