Best Comedy?

A simple enough question this morning.  The tragedies often get the most attention, but what of the comedies? What, in your opinion, is Shakespeare’s *best* comedy?

Gaby Stenberg as Titania, 1944

I know that “best” is always debatable, so let me be more specific. In this case I’m wondering which play has the greatest opportunity to make you laugh yourself silly.  Obviously the production of each play will vary greatly, but which of Shakespeare’s comedic scripts do you think offers up the greatest potential to have them LOLing in the aisles?

While I definitely had some “laughed so hard I cried” moments with Comedy of Errors and As You Like It, I think I’d find it hard not to nominate Midsummer as the overall funniest.  I always tend to go right for that last scene, but really, it’s pretty darned funny from the beginning.  “You have her father’s love, Demetrius … marry him!”

9 thoughts on “Best Comedy?

  1. The Merry Wives of Windsor had me nearly in tears!

  2. Comedy of Errors and Much ado about nothing
    We saw Love's Labours Lost at the RSC at that was very funny as well (surprisingly rude too)

  3. Our Director of Mission (and a long-time Shakespeare prof) is fond of saying that Midsummer is structurally perfect. It's also a hard play to get wrong — you have to really work at it to mess up what that play gives you to work with.

    For my money, Much Ado is the best, though perhaps not the overall funniest. I think it's the best because it balances the maturity of some of the later comedies with more of the broader, play-for-laughs moments. And I think it's the most emotionally real of the comedies.

  4. Twelfth Night, guys. Twelfth Night all the way.

    I agree with all the points made in favor of the other comedies, I just prefer Twelfth Night.

    Though, obviously, if we mean more than just "funniest," I think Merchant is far and away the deepest comedy – As long as you can agree to it being classed as a comedy.

  5. I'd vote for Much Ado.

    Twelfth Night is my absolute, all-time favourite play, but Much Ado makes me laugh more.

    No matter how bad the production – and I have seen some real dogs! – Benedick's soliloquy never fails to work. And in even halfway decent productions the overhearing scenes are great. And the dialogue. And Dogberry and Verges – not really my kind of humour – can be brilliant when done well.

    Twelfth Night I love for the emotion, and the poetry, and the heart. Yes, it is funny, but not in the same way. (For me, Twelfth Night is Viola's play. I acknowledge that there are people for whom it's all about Malvolio/Sir Toby/Sir Andrew, and they would probably rate it higher on the 'comedy' scale than I would.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I saw a "A Midsummers Night's Dream" and it was hilarious.

  7. Precisely why, Cass and Alexi, I tried to qualify "best" :). Although Much Ado came first, I was totally expecting somebody to bring up Twelfth Night.

    But for tears-in-your eyes, hysterical LMAO moments, do either of those two really compare to some of the more slapsticky stuff? Much Ado's got some great banter (as does LLL, of course) but is it funny, or just witty?

  8. I think Much Ado is overall more witty than slapsticky, although the gulling scenes can definitely invite some pretty great visual humor along with the verbal.

    But no, for sheer LOL value, I think it's Midsummer, 3.2 — the catfight scene. Great blend of verbal zings with the potential for hilarious physicality.

  9. It’s Twelfth Night. How are we even discussing this?

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