I side with Isaac Asimov’s stance on jokes.
In his brilliant Treasury of Humor, he starts his section on “Put-Downs” by arguing the put-down is more humane and immensely more pleasurable when the target has done something deserving of the disservice. One should be a gentleman, he argues, and not attack an unarmed party.
He then gives an example of a joke told to him that he considered tasteless and unfunny: a cowboy looking for shelter in the middle of nowhere enters a hut and finds a nude woman tied to her bedposts. The woman says that bandits came in, killed her husband, stole their livestock, tied her up, raped her repeatedly, and left her for dead. The cowboy takes off his clothes and says “Today ain’t your lucky day.”
I agree with Asimov’s evaluation: that particular joke was horrible and uncalled for. Is it funny? Only in the most dark and cosmic way. Perhaps it would work as a symbolic fable tossed off in the middle of a 700-page novel with more footnotes than heart. But taken as its own discrete unit, there are few situations in which I’d be comfortable encountering the joke as either teller or listener.
That particular joke was not called for.
That particular joke.