I mean right now, to present day audiences. What's a good comedy, and why? Is Shrew better than Much Ado? Twelfth Night over As You Like it? Say that you had opportunity to get all the comedies in front of a group of people who otherwise aren't Shakespeare fans, and who were just looking to be entertained / get a laugh. Which come out on top of the pile?
Is it the slapstick? Do people need to be falling over each other and wrestling in the mud?
Or maybe it's a "timeless issues" thing, like the battles between men and women, or everything that surrounds a "romantic comedy"? People laugh at what they recognize to be true, so to speak. I still contend that this is the primary reason for the popularity of Shrew.
Does the writing and the dialogue count for much? If you have one guy out on the stage saying witty things, will he carry the audience's good favor and end up at the top of the pile? Or most often does the witty dialogue go over people's heads?
I'm curious if we can get a discussion going on the subject. Recently Alan was hyping the value of Shrew over in a different thread. Having just seen AYLI for the first time, I can say that I thought a line like Rosalind's "Don't you know I am a woman? When I am thinking, I must speak" (or however it was said) would have brought the house down, but it barely registered. But the simple exchanges between Jaques and Orlando:
"Rosalind is your love's name?"
"I do not like her name."
"I was seeking for a fool when I found you."
"He is drowned in the brook: look but in, and you shall see him."
Got a much better reaction. The second in particular, Jaques didn't even have to follow up with the "There I shall see mine own figure" to get the laugh, people understood it without that.