meaning and history of ‘good enough for Punch’

The phrase good enough for Punch is used of a very funny joke or real-life event.

This phrase refers to Punch or the London Charivari, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire which ran from 1841 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2002.

And indeed, the phrase was used in the following advertisement for Punch or the London Charivari, published in The Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press (Whitstable, Kent, England) of Saturday 31st March 1928:

advertisement for Punch magazine - Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press (Whitstable, Kent, England) - 31 March 1928

Good enough for ‘Punch’” is the highest praise of a joke. All the best jokes are in “Punch”
Take “Punch,” and you will be “as pleased as Punch”

The earliest occurrence of good enough for Punch that I have found is from The Cotswold Harriers at Home (Mr. E. H. Hudson’s), published in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London, England) of Saturday 21st December 1872—the author, who signs themself “an Early Charlton”, recounts a hunting party organised at Charlton Kings by one Mr E. H. Hudson:

It was very comical when the Master held up the hare in exultation over his pack at the finish to see a grinning son of the soil approach Mr Hudson, and, with a hand solemnly extended, say, “Here, Maister, gi’ oi that hare; I’ll eat un;” and to notice the startled look of the gentleman addressed, who replied quickly, “Not for fifty pounds.” “Moi eyes,” rejoined the rustic, “Oi didn’t know he were woth so much as that.” It was good enough for Punch.

The second-earliest occurrence of good enough for Punch that I have found is from the following paragraph published in the Cheltenham Chronicle (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England) of Tuesday 7th October 1873:

Comprehensive.—Mr. William Talley in yesterday’s Standard issues an address “to the Conservative and Liberal electors of the county of Buckingham.” He begins thus:—“My lords, ladies, and gentlemen.” Mr. Talley is, evidently, a man of strong imagination as well as comprehensive in his sympathies. His address from first to last is good enough for Punch. He dates from “Slough, Bucks, August, 1873.” He is a “buck;” but not slow.

The title of the following paragraph, from Local and General Notes, published in the Cheshire Observer (Chester, Cheshire, England) of Saturday 14th February 1959, puns on the phrase:

Good enough for Punch
At a recent social function held on an extremely cold day, a correspondent tells us that he was regaled with a most warming and palatable glass of punch. He asked his hostess what the mixture contained and he received the following recipe: constituent parts (to taste) of rum, claret, port, damson jelly, marmalade, P.L.J., orange squash, pineapple juice, dry ginger ale, cinnamon, lime juice, all spice—and a little water.

Another phrase referring to a British periodical is to write to The Times about it.

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