Punch, Or Punchinello, a humorous character in a species of puppet show exhibited in the streets of European cities. The exhibition is of Italian origin, and its Italian name Polici-nella or Pulcinella, according to Gallani in his Vocabolario del dialetto Napoletano, was derived from Puccio d'Aniello, a buffoon of Acer-ra, near Naples, whose humorous eccentricities were in the 17th century transferred to the Neapolitan stage; and the character continues to be the medium of local and political satire in the Italian exhibitions of fantoccini, or puppet shows. Another theory derives the name from pollice, thumb, a name of dwarfs in several languages. It is thought that the grotesque face is only a modification of the ancient comic mask, and that the character of Punch is kindred to the "Vice" of the old moralities, and the clown of the later drama. The modern drama of "Punch" is supposed to have been composed by Silvio Fiorello, an Italian comedian, about 1600. It embodies a domestic tragedy followed by a supernatural retribution, the whole of which is treated in a broadly farcical manner. Punch is a short obese personage, with an enormous hump on his back, a wide mouth, long chin, and hooked nose, and wearing a three-pointed cap. His wife Judy and his dog Toby are important characters in the performance.
A similar puppet show, containing the same leading characters, has been known for ages in China. It is managed by a single individual, who exhibits the theatre on his head, the moving wires being concealed under his gown.