The Punch and Judy College of Professors are among the leading practitioners of Punch and Judy. They met in various groups during 2012 to mark the 350 anniversary of Punch's first known appearance in Britain.
Clive Chandler: Today is about the College of Professors recording what we do, and what we think about Punch and Judy to get that on the record.
Gary Wilson: I’m the youngest member of the Punch and Judy College of Professors and we’re here today to make a special video, which is part of Mr Punch’s 350th birthday celebrations.
It’s really nice to get some of the best performers around together in one place to talk about the tradition and what’s really important.
Martin Reeve: What to you is a Punch and Judy show?
John Styles: It’s got to be irreverent…
Clive Chandler: I think it’s particularly valuable because Punch and Judy is mostly defined by other commentators, usually academics or journalists who always seem to set the agenda and therefore the perception of what we do as a craft, as an art form.
Gary Wilson: Mr Punch has always changed with the times right from when he started. I mean, Joey the Clown was added in because of Joseph Grimaldi who was like the celebrity of the day.
In my show, the devil’s got a bit of bling and I like him to be a little bit ‘street’ a little bit naughty.
Judy: There we go Mr Punch, little Asbo.
Gary Wilson: And also it’s all about topical jokes. I’ve seen people put bankers in the show and politicians. You’re always moving it on all the time.
Judy: You’re going to look after two little boys from Westminster. Make sure they play nicely together. It’s Little Dave and Little Nick.
Punch: Okey dokey. Come on Little Dave. Come on Little Nick. There’s good boys.
Clive Chandler: It’s essentially anti-establishment. Any country with political problems, street stuff disappears overnight. So for me it’s a barometer of a very healthy, English, eccentric society.
Martin Reeve: Because it’s 350 years now it’s perhaps a good time to take stock of what’s going on with the show. So it’s about how you see its future.
Clive Chandler: People had a slight sort of wobble at the end of the last century about whether it should survive and in what form. But then they think “yeah, it’s really part of… it’s a grand expression of public freedom.
Gary Wilson: I think he’s such a strong character he’ll keep going. I mean he’s always followed the crowds. Although you don’t see Punch and Judy as much on the beach these days, he’s gone to the shopping centres, the festivals, the theme parks, the schools and children’s parties as well.
Clive Chandler: We can’t dictate the future but hopefully what we’ve done today, somebody will look at it and say yeah, “that’s the thing for me” and they’ll be doing it in 5,10,15, 20 years time.
And when we’re all dead and buried, somebody will dig this up and say “look what they were doing!”