“It is clear that humour is far superior to humor.”
So said Oscar Wilde, suggesting that the British sense of humour is funnier than American humour (humor).
Feel Good is a new Channel 4 comedy drama series, mostly filmed in Manchester and Blackpool, with a pick and mix bag full of both typical British and American (or Canadian) humour.
The British sense of humour is mainly ironic understatements, sarcasm and self-deprecation. Brits often refuse to be overwhelmed by anything, and typically brush things off with a sarcastic comment.
An example of typical British sarcasm is to comment on how glorious the weather is when it’s actually throwing it down outside. Or to say the opposite of what one means in order to make one’s point. And, of course, us Brits aren’t afraid to take the piss out of ourselves.
It’s been said that Americans don’t get irony. Which is, of course, not true – but it’s not used a lot in US shows. The American sense of ‘humor’ is generally more demonstrative and slapstick than that in Britain. Their jokes are more obvious and forward – a bit like the Yanks themselves.
Simon Pegg once said: “Irony and sarcasm is like the kettle to us [Brits]: it’s always on, whistling slyly in the corner of our daily interactions. To Americans, however, it’s more like a nice teapot, something to be used when the occasion demands it.”
Although both nations have subtle differences in their wit, they can both appreciate the other’s sense of humour. And Channel 4’s Feel Good marries the two comedic styles together fantastically.
Feel Good is a deeply personal, darkly hilarious and poignant story about the unique pressures of navigating the modern-day fluid landscape of gender and sexuality.
The series follows recovering addict and Canadian comedian Mae, who is trying to control her own addictive and intense behaviour through relationships with both her new lover and also her distant (and remote) mother.
Her complex life is further complicated by a new and all-consuming relationship with her new ‘straight’ girlfriend, George.
Lisa Kudrow plays Mae’s remote mum (mom) who lives in Canada and frequently makes direct and cutting remarks about her daughter’s mental health via video call.
The diversity of Manchester city centre is featured effectively throughout the series.
The opening scene, where characters Mae and George meet for the first time, is unmistakably filmed at Manchester’s Frog and Bucket Comedy Club.
Mae and George play truth drinking games before passion takes over. The award-winning comedy venue is a recurring set, utilising the stage, the bar, the back room and even the bogs.
In one scene Mae even trips over that familiar naughty step in a rush out of the toilets. We’ve all done it (right?)
Castlefield Gallery is used in episode two, in a scene where Mae accompanies her ‘weird’ new friend while she stalks her disgruntled distant daughter, Lava aka Laura, who appears to host an art exhibition.
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Another Manchester scene is outside Tib Street’s adult toy shop, Love Boutique, where George buys a police officer uniform to surprise Mae with some hilariously awkward role play.
Stevenson Square is a regular backdrop throughout the series, which effectively reaffirms the series’ multicultural feeling.
Piercy Street New Islington is featured as the modern townhouse where arty character Lava lives (“yes, lava as in hot rocks”) and puts up Mae for a few weeks.
Considering the storyline and the fact it’s filmed almost entirely in Greater Manchester, it’s surprising not to see Manchester’s gay village.
Where’s Canal Street and why wasn’t Velvet or New York New York used as the gay bar in episode five? Maybe because that particular scene was set in Blackpool. We’ll let them off.
To summarise, the moral of the story and central question of the show seems to be: is love the drug? It certainly suggests a myriad of different forms of love.
The full series of Feel Good is now available on All 4 and coming soon to Netflix.