Toby

Definition

Theater

  • (1) In Britain, the live dog that has featured in the Punch and Judyshow since the early 19th century. His name was probably derived from thebiblical story of Tobias, a favourite subject for puppeteers, in which a dogappears. Punch and Judy are usually accompanied by a sprightly terrier wearinga ruff, sometimes with bells on. He sits on the ledge of the booth during theperformance and afterwards circulates amongst the audience to collect money ina small bag carried in his mouth.

    (2) In America, a stock character in the early 20th-century tentshows. Toby was a naive country bumpkin with a freckled face andblacked-out front tooth, who wore a red wig, a calico shirt, and farmer'sworking jeans. Despite his simplicity, he usually managed to triumph over thesophisticated 'city slicker'. Eventually a female companion, Susie,was added. The performer who played the role needed considerable gymnasticabilities, because of the many comic falls involved. The part is still playedsporadically in rural areas.

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