Thursday, July 3, 2008

On Americans and Punch & Judy

Greenwoode08 029

The question is: “How do your audiences react?” Well…I’ve never had too much trouble with audiences ‘getting’ Punch & Judy. I’ve also never had an offended audience member confront me.

But here are the conditions under which I perform:

  • I perform at renaissance faires mostly where people expect to see something from the past. Even though my show is modern with current jokes, if the audience wants, they can excuse the whole thing and justify their watching it by saying it’s historical.
  • I perform with the Greenwood Players, some of whom have children, who act as plants in my audience. They know the show and they know what to say and do and they usually help the audiences get excited.
  • I warn the audience by announcing my show loudly proclaiming that the show is guaranteed to be violent and contains a hanging—like it’s a good thing. I do see some parents and their sheltered little ones walk on by…but I want them to.
  • I coach the audience. I set them up to respond to “That’s the way to do it!” with “Oh no it isn’t!”
  • Punch never hits first. (I’m not the only one to do this…the whole premise of the show is that Punch reacts in ways we can’t and sometimes wish we could.)
  • I’m female. It’s amazing what I can get away with by being immediately perceived as harmless, teacher like, and some one to be trusted with children. It probably also helps that I have no tattoos or nose rings, and I wear a professional-looking non-revealing costume.
  • Also, probably because I am who I am, Judy gets the last laugh (most P&J shows end with some puppet other than Punch getting the last laugh—usually the crocodile).
Do they get it? Yep, with a little coaching, they get it. In reality, this is Bugs Bunny’s predecessor—you can even tell them that—but at the end of the day, it really is just slap stick comedy. Americans get that.

1 comment:

Escarlata said...


Thanks for writing about your puppet show and the pictures from Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Festival. I've enjoyed reading and looking.