FRIDAY

Comics still tell airline jokes, but now they’re about security instead of stewardesses. Bill Maher, however, is taking the post-9/11 world much more seriously. His current tour is built around his new book, When You Ride ALONE You Ride With bin Laden, which was inspired by World War II propaganda posters. The subtitle, What the Government SHOULD Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism, sounds closer to a cranky pamphlet than a stand-up comedy routine, which is fine with Maher. “The easiest thing to do is to confirm people’s prejudices,” he says. “It’s much more satisfying to unsettle people’s prejudices.” To that effect, Maher comes out in favor of profiling. Which incites boos. Which Maher says he turns to laughs and applause by projecting a faux-vintage poster showing Osama coasting past guards while an old lady is frisked. “They laugh at the concept, at how ridiculous it is not profiling. But if you ask, ‘Are you for profiling?’ ‘Absolutely not!’ Which is whack, as the kids would say. If they called it ‘Proactive Intelligence Screening,’ people would go, ‘It’s about time.’” The problem, contends Maher, is that “the government is not leading….They say, ‘Shop.’” Believing that “civilians are as much a part of the war as soldiers, they just have a different job to do,” Maher regrets that the government “treated us as victims instead of soldiers.” The Greatest Generation wasn’t that great “until they were challenged,” Maher says. “They got serious. We haven’t.” Get seriously amused at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $29.50. (202) 432-7328. (Dave Nuttycombe)