Comedy and drama are both about provoking an extreme reaction out of someone. Laughter and tears are both difficult to get right, though people have tried countless times for both. Perhaps it's the threads I go to, but I notice that drama receives more praise than comedy, or at least the people who would praise it are more vocal. I'm the kind of person who would watch a romantic comedy for the comedy more than the romance, and would unapologetically put something like Softenni on a list of favorites. Comedy is more than just one thing. There's a lot of different genres and types, so I wanted to start a discussion on the many different types of comedy. Which ones worked for you? Which kinds do you enjoy? What do you think about the state of comedy in anime today? I'll begin by listing my favorites.
Black Comedy/Social Satire: This is the kind of comedy that garners the most positive response. I know Humanity Has Declined is a favorite in this category, but I'm a huge fan of Joshiraku. It establishes the personalities and then creates comedy sketches where everyone works off each other, usually towards a punchline or a demented conclusion. The way Kumeta can start at Point A and end at Point B is very much like South Park, complete with a similar mix of highbrow commentary and lowbrow humor.
Sex Comedy: Seitokai Yakuindomo stands triumphant. Ujie Tozen is great at getting perverted puns out of a scene, in ways both intentional and unintentional. The innocence of Suzu and Mutsumi and the not so innocence of Shino can make it arrive at the same punchline from multiple angles and feel just right every time.
Absurd Comedy: It's only two minutes, but Teekyuu! is the current winner in this category. One of my favorite jokes is where Natsuno mentions that her dad is like "something seen in front of shops". She means that her dad looks like Col. Sanders, but Marimo pictures him as a barbershop pole. It makes perfect sense, but is also so ridiculous that it lands.
Pop Culture Reference Comedy: The first season of Hayate was once my favorite, but Nyarko is currently my top contender. Especially since much of the humor is tokusatsu-based. This means I may get more out of it than someone else, but part of the appeal of such a show like this is how it knows how to play to its niche.
Meta Comedy/Fourth Wall Humor: The more a series falls into absurd/pop culture comedy, the more likely it is to fall into here, too. Yuru Yuri is one of my favorites, with Akari's plight about her lack of screentime behind the fourth wall being used with a lot of variation. Seitokai no Ichizon (at times) also knows how to use this to its advantage.
Slapstick Comedy: This could also fall under "absurd comedy", but Nichijou excelled at this kind of thing. The sequence where Mio beats up a police officer, an old man and a goat to stop them from reading her manga is a standout scene in a series full of many standout scenes. The animation, the music, the camera angles... everything plays to make this scene as serious as it can be, which also makes it as funny as can be. The principal fighting a deer works along the same lines. Comic violence can be tough to play right, but when it succeeds, it succeeds.
Character Driven Comedy/Sitcom: A group of characters that live together and play off each other in ways that the audience finds familiar, but also funny and kinda heartwarming. Hidamari Sketch has been very successful at this kind of comedy for four years running (most of it coming from Miya), though I'd nominate A Channel and Minami-ke as other really good examples of establishing the character personalities and just letting them play off each other. Acchi Kocchi has a bit of this with its romance, as does the currently running GJ Bu. If given enough time, most character driven comedies will eventually turn into a romance, but I often love them enough while they're in the comedy phase.