As Pleased As Punch

“Punch and Judy” is a puppet show that’s as much a symbol of Englishness as are the double-decker bus, the pork pie and Agatha Christie. It’s been a staple of entertainment for kids, for over 350 years, reaching the height of popularity in the Victorian era.

Only, unlike American programs like “The Muppet Show” or “Sesame Street,” it isn’t about cute animals, each with their uniquely endearing characters, but a rascally fellow, whose only vocation is beating his spouse, Judy and members of the constabulary with a baton. The couple would air their bitter exchanges in candy-striped booths in seaside resorts, carnivals, fairs and fetes.

It beats me how a performance about brutality can evoke peals of laughter?