Alastair Clarke, a British evolutionary theorist, identified eight patterns which all jokes could fit into no matter where you come from in the world.
Mr Clarke came to his conclusions after studying more than 20,000 examples of humour through the ages, from a man breaking wind in the 14th century Miller's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer to modern television sketch shows such as Little Britain.
All the humour could fit into the eight categories regardless of civilisation, culture or personal taste.
"While it may seem bizarre to some, these few patterns are the real stimulus that makes us laugh, regardless of the content of the sitcom we're watching or the funny story we're being told," said Mr Clarke, who is publishing his findings in a book.
He said the brain subconsciously seeks out the patterns and when it discovers them is rewarded for its efforts.