Punch and Judy Show

Swanage Punch & Judy

This post is apropos of nothing, but Jim Groom’s The Shining commentary got me interested in Punch and Judy after what might have been a throw away comment at the end of his analysis. Of course, I loved that he was talking about what is probably MY favorite movie. And I must admit I love the “labor” theme that Jim talks about. I think many times about that fine line between how much work and play I do. My DTLT colleagues cut a little close to the bone sometimes as well when they make jokes about my work ethic (such as it is).

The Punch and Judy reference also reminded me of one of my favorite bands songs, Punch and Judy, an obscure one by XTC. It’s a song about a couple who are married and a baby comes along to ruin the potential dreams of the father, which leads to violent behavior. Sound familiar? Maybe that resentment is the key to Jack Torrence’s violent behavior. Don’t worry I’m not going to take this very far, but watching the build up to extreme violence in The Shining does expose Jack’s simmering hatred for his responsibilities.

Again, not related seemingly is the knowledge that all Punch and Judy shows used a device called a swazzle that changed the “Professor’s” voice. It was a “reed” that was placed deep in the throat to make Punch sound more, well, frantic and annoying. It is interesting to me that before violent video games and violent cartoons before that, Punch and Judy shows have existed for over 300 years and probably at various times they have been blamed for encouraging violence in our society.

Finally, my last disconnected thought is of my first exposure to a Punch and Judy show was from one of my favorite Marx Brother’s films Monkey Business. Harpo is a stowaway on a ship along with his brothers and hides from the authorities by playing Punch in the puppet show. The annoying, and yet funny sound of his voice was obviously changed using a swazzle of some sort. Thanks Jim for conjuring up all these thoughts and leading me to greater knowledge!


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