In his memoirs, Louis Bouyer wrote about what made him laugh. ‘I should add that all my teachers would later tell me of the superiority of character-driven comedy over situation comedy never managed to uproot from me every child’s conviction: that those who hurl cream pies at each other’s faces are funny in a far more relaxing, and, therefore, at bottom far more satisfying way, than the more subtle forms of what is called ‘wit’. In fact, it is quite remarkable that these latter forms usually grow stale in less than a generation.’
This explains why, say, a Louis de Funès, whether engaging in off-road driving, singing in choir, or speaking a range of foreign languages, has a far more durable appeal than any amount of intellectual comedy.
Which is not to say that what he represented was superficial. If you’re in doubt, just look at him here, attending to Madeleine Renaud reading Claudel’s La Vierge à midi.