Why has my motley diary no jokes? Because it is a soliloquy and every man is grave alone - Emerson
A joke needs a listener.
Perhaps it is as true of other art forms though the practitioners like to assert they find completeness in creation itself. But surely a joke is quite simply gauged by the laughs it earns. I don't know who coined it - Jay Leno perhaps- the term 'cricket' refers to jokes that fell flat: the audience is so silent you can here the crickets chirping in the back of a set.
It may have been too clever for the audience, it may have had one reference too many, it may have toyed with the boundaries of laughablity. But the fact is, it fell flat.