In Reply to: Re: Proud as punch posted by ESC on May 16, 2008 at 20:35:
: : What is the origin of 'proud as punch'?
: The phrase as I have heard it: pleased as punch. But I don't know what "punch" is.
It's "pleased/proud as Punch", and it derives from the tradtional English puppet show called "Punch and Judy". In this puppet play Mr Punch, left to mind the baby by his wife Judy, kills it; then, when Judy returns, bludgeons her to death as well. He is arrested and thrown in prison but escapes, and proceeds to kill a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer, the hangman, death and the Devil. He does all this with immense glee, each time crying in his traditional squeaky voice, "That's the way to do it!"
Mr Punch derives from the character called "Polichinello" in the Italian commedia dell'arte; these puppet plays were introduced to England in the 1660s in the wake of the Restoration of Charles II. They are still popular as wholesome entertainment for children, especially at the seaside.
Here's a picture of traditional Punch and Judy puppets: http://www.virtualmuseum.info/collections/themes/performance_gallery/images/wapg_punch_d04_450w540h.jpg (VSD)