When I heard about this, it made me cringe. Not to dispute that there are better paying jobs, and more opportunity in applied fields than in the humanities, but why is it necessary to single out one field to be the butt of a crude joke? He might just as well have retold the quip that has the tired punchline "do you want fries with that?" Art history majors and art historians -- and by extension, the entire discipline of art history -- are an easy target, I guess.
Just yesterday I was talking to students about what I describe here (the "no offense" woman, not the student with the question). I have also been remembering recently that in high school, teachers warned us EVERY DAY that we would never get jobs because the economy was so bad. They never said, study the practical thing, or told us why we should love their subjects. Instead, PhDs were driving taxicabs in NYC, so we were doomed. The economy and generally pessimistic mood of the late '70s reminds me much of today.
So I studied what I loved, and did not give a thought to how I'd apply it. I have never had a regret about my humanities / social science liberal arts degree in history. It has served me very well, in fact, in preparing me to pursue graduate study, in honing my research and writing skills, in sparking a lifelong love of the field. I have never been unemployed, so there.