( England: 1682-Present)
F. Scott Regan and Bradford Clark
The trickster character Punch and his wife Judy (also known as "Joan") have been associated with the English puppet tradition from the seventeenth century to today. Although Punch and Judy are perhaps not as popular now as they were during the early Victorian era, their presence is still felt through street performances, children's books, opera, film, and video.
While the origins of Punch remain shrouded in mystery, there are certain comic prototypes that display similarities to the puppet trickster. Both the ancient Atellan farce and the French folk tradition featured stock characters with physical attributes that resemble those of Punch. Many scholars believe that the English Punch evolved from the relatively minor Italian commedia dell'arte figure Pulcinella. This lazy, gluttonous, obese, and hunchbacked character provided the comic prototype for comic figures in many countries, including the French marionette Polichinelle, the Russian Petrushka, and the English Punchinello, who at some undetermined point became Punch. Judy emerged as his female equivalent.
Italian puppet plays, possibly integrating the marionette Punchinello, were seen by Samuel Pepys in England as early as 1662, and one of the earliest references to "Punch and Mrs. Punch" occurs in 1682, again in England. Early references to the name "Joan" or "Judy" date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and include two made by Henry Fielding in Author's Farce and Tom Jones ( Leach40). Initially a secondary character, usually brought on as comic relief during more serious fare, Punch eventually became the protagonist,