Hypothesis: the jokes in Lucky Star are curved.
Okay, no one is fooling anyone by saying that Lucky Star is a popular show on the air right now. But given its panel-comic format with a dash of slice-of-life, why do people like to look for reasons beyond the show itself to explain its popularity? I’m not sure, but is that a sign of the lackluster nature of this skirt-wriggling mess?
I guess that’s how it started. Lucky Star’s shotgun approach to entertainment may be the real cause of it all. The show aims to please a large segment of viewers in two ways, even when it’s in the guise of otaku entertainment.
First, it gives us a wide variety of things to talk about. No matter if you’re a chat-brain otaku or someone more sensible, you can find something to admire within its confines. Well, as much as a slice-of-life high-school comedy could. It is sort of like a second-rate but popular webcomic, but much more intelligent in its planning.
Second, it presents its jokes on a curve. What do I mean by this? Let’s say there’s 20 minutes per episode of Lucky Star. For about 10 minutes of the show, spread across the episode, we have fairly standard situational comedy jokes where the girls explain a simple, everyday things, and we get our lukewarm punchlines. For about 6-7 minutes each episode, LS presents jokes that refers to culture more, such as the Christmas Cake one, or the one about moe. Those are probably not as accessible to people as the ones talking about which side of a choco coronet is the head, although you might find the latter less funny. For about 3-4 minutes we get the more otaku-like jokes, like ones talking about events or Action Hero Animate or what have you.
The point here is even if Lucky Star is a very otaku-minded show most people can enjoy the bulk of it. There are about an equal number of jokes for both the initiated and the initiated’s friend. It may take a real 2ch goon to get all of it, but it doesn’t take a 2ch goon to laugh at it and enjoy it.
(Yeah, Lucky Star’s power to pander to the lowest common denominator wins. The OP has preordained this.)
Perhaps a second question worth exploring is: just how much of anime a typical viewer understands? It’s not exactly rocket science. And it seems to not matter.