Although the Russian word "petrushka" has a homonym meaning "parsley," in this context the word is actually a hypocoristic for "Pyotr" (Пётр), which is Peter in Russian. However, the character has little or nothing in common with such stock characters as Petruccio or Pierrot. Petrushka is rather a Russian Punch or Pulcinella in character.
It was the Empress Anna Ioannovna’s court jester Pietro-Mira Pedrillo from Italy, who served as a prototype for Petrushka.
Petrushka’s voice was created with the help of a special whistle, and the dialogue was based on a momentary change of the pishchik and the “live” voice of other characters. There were a number of basic plots: the medical treatment of Petrushka, his learning of soldier’s service, the scene with his bride, the buying of a horse and testing it.
Initially, Petrushka was a character of typical slapstick comedy targeting the adult audience. As puppet theatre gradually became predominantly children's entertainment, Petrushka became less vulgar and aggressive. In the Soviet Union, Petrushka appeared widely in agitprop theater, defending poor peasants and attacking kulaks.
Russian Children's Welfare Society (RCWS) hosts annual "Petroushka Ball", which is named after Petrushka character who fell in love with a graceful ballerina.
A version of Petrushka, played by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention can be heard on the official bootleg 'Tis The Season To Be Jelly' it is culled from a Konserthuset, Stockholm September 30, 1967 concert.