Written by Graham Garden and Bill Oddie
You can play the episode online or download a copy at the link above.
“The Harder They Fall, the More They Hurt Themselves” runs for the last 10 minutes of the programme
The radio sketch programme “I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again” drew its humour from silliness, puns, running gags and characters, sarcastic topical comments, and mild sexiness. This was matched by the enthusiastic performances of its cast, which were equalled and sometimes overpowered by the responses of an overenthusiastic audience. Each show usually ended with a longer 10 minute sketch parody.
“The Harder They Fall, the More They Hurt Themselves” is a parody of boxing match has as its centrepiece John Cleese’s camp old queen of a rookie boxer, Butch aka “Sugar Puff Robinson”. This is an obvious play on the name of the famous boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, as sugar puffs are a breakfast cereal, but in English slang “puff” or “poof” or “poufffe” was a then-popular term for “homosexual”.
5 years have passed since Julian and Sandy on “Round the Horne”. Julian and Sandy employed the private slang of Polari, and the writers and cast were unsure as to what they would be able to get past the BBC censors. So even as people were laughing at those sketches, they may not necessarily have been entirely sure what they laughing at, but were just caught up in the entertaining hysteria. The gags in this episode of “I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again” aren’t intended to go over anyone’s head or appear to worry much about the censor. Cleese’s character makes numerous sly sexually appreciative comments about wrestler’s glistening bodies and his camp innuendoes (“You can call me anytime”) get strong laughs. Broad acting, broad gags, broad laughs.
Bill Oddie as boxing trainer: All I want is a raw youth I can get to work on.
Cleese: Mm, don’t we all. Oh, I say. Quiet, plebs. Hello boys. I’m butch. Sorry -“Butch”.
There’s a heavy dose of effeminacy gags about and wearing women’s clothing: “If you touch my earrings I’ll wince”
Mention of a fighter’s purse (his prize money) gets a “Goody, it’ll go with my huge handbag”
Graham Garden as the promoter: Jack will be your second
Cleese: Don’t you believe it!
In this extended sketch, Cleese takes the camping-it-up spotlight from Tim Brooke Taylor, who as noted all over this blog, was the go-to-performer for mincing about for this generation of Oxbridge comedians.
Cleese’s comment “I’m as rugged as the next man” elicits a quick fey fairy cameo from Tim as The Next Man, and then a quick spat as to who saw all the men first.
Tim BRooke Taylor now admits, “The one thing I do regret is the large number of gay jokes. At the time it was liberal to be able to do ‘poofter’ jokes at last – ‘Round the Horne’ did them brilliantly. But it went on too long and I remember thinking, ‘if I do this in a ‘whoops’ voice it will get a laugh.’ I’m happy to say I gave that route up eventually.” – “The Clue Bible” by Jem Roberts.