That expression is one of the biggest cop-outs ever perpetrated on mankind. I used to use it myself until at some point I "woke up" and realized what a bigot I was.
It's SO MUCH FUN to pull fast ones on other people ... to say stuff that leaves them bewildered; scrambles their brains ... and then laugh about it. And then to say -when they get mad- "whatsamater? Can't take a JOKE??"
Well, my own realization was this ...
How do I like it when someone else pulls a joke on me ... and I don't comprehend that it's a joke and treat it seriously, getting annoyed ... and then he says, "whatamatter? Can't take a joke?!"
It happened to me. I came to a realization that MOST people don't engage in this kind of "funning" and so I wasn't USED TO having it done to me ... so I didn't see it when it came at me! (The ironic thing is that those who engage in some odd behavior don't recognize it coming back at them because they're used to dishing it out and not receiving it.)
Ok, I didn't like it coming back at me. I don't like being "had." I got annoyed. Mind you, that doesn't necessarily STOP me from my "bad" behavior because I realize how "damaging" my behavior is but rather .... I learned that I HAD to be a gracious recipient of the same stuff if I was going to be a gleeful perpetrator of the same.
Scrub this phrase from your vocabulary: "Whatsamatter? Can't take a joke?"
If someone doesn't GET that it's a joke ... how can he "take it" if it looks like a naked insult to him?
If you keep using the phrase, it only proves what a jerk you are. It's only a joke if the other guy REALIZES that it's a joke.