Scientists have been homing in on the genes that define our sense of humour. In a follow-up to the research which brought us British Humour Linked to Genetics, the latest report claims they have come up with some “funny results”. It does not specify whether said results are funny ha-ha or funny peculiar.

Humanity has over 20,500 genes, which the official gene naming board (HUGO) has been working hard to differentiate based not only on their strains of humour but also according to country of prevalence and associated effects.

Brit wit

The original humour-gene research, conducted by Dr Rod Martin, suggested that British people enjoyed dark humour more than natives of sunnier climes. (Grammarians who pointed out that enjoying natives of sunnier climes was a barbarous habit that should have died out with the Empire were told that cruelty was just another facet of British wit.)

Doc Martin’s research put the boot into traditional analysis of the subject with its suggestions that appreciation of ‘dark and cruel’ humour is associated with two genes in particular – CLS(27p10.39) and FRSR(2q21.55). These are found in greater density across the British Isles than elsewhere.
In an appendix to the original report it wasn’t also suggested that if these were the best gene names the people at HUGO could come up with perhaps they should apply to their sponsors, for the money to buy a copy of The Everything Baby Names Book from Amazon.

In-depth investigation of the FRS-R gene has suggested it may be responsible for the more intellectual side of humour, including word-play and sarcasm, as well as for male pattern baldness and the personality trait of pomposity.

The CLS gene, on the other hand, is linked to adrenaline surges, belligerence, excessive height and, in subjects where the gene is dominant, a gesticulative gait known to the layman as a ‘silly walk’.

Meanwhile, across the pond…

Whilst the FRS-R and the CLS genes dominate in the UK, another pair of genes are battling it out Stateside.

Like its British counterpart, HMR(4p15.8) controls baldness; unlike the FRS-R gene, it is almost entirely responsible for the appetite for sugar and sleeping periods.

The HIX(26q2.94) gene is thought to be a mutated version of the original CLS gene, in which the adrenaline functions tend to promote observational and satirical comedy, rather than the absurd.
The HMR and HIX genes seem to have a geneaphobic response to each other and whilst similarities do occur, they are more divergent than the British versions; but this may be due only to the fact they haven’t been formally introduced.

XX less than XY?

One surprising aspect of the research is that all four genes under discussion are part of the male Y chromosome. No corresponding pairs have as yet been identified on the X chromosome. Whether it would be appropriate to infer from this that women have no sense of humour at all, or simply that the mainly male research teams are concentrating their efforts in the wrong place as usual, is open to debate.

Scientists are still looking for the matching pairs in French and German populations. Both races seem to only have comedy genii that have mutated from other countries. Some theorised that the French mutations passed across the Channel disguised as British Airmen [1], but that all German mutations died out as a result of the catastrophic loss of the German sense of humour during the Python Incident [2].

Work has yet to begin on finding the original comedy gene, the fabled NOK/NOK twinned pair. [3]


[1] Assumed to have been hidden in the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by Van Klump.

[2] Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! … Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.

[3] “For when we discover NOK/NOK, we also find who’s there.” – Prof. C. Lown of Billy Smart University