I decide to catch Doug Stanhope live at The Improv (7620 Katy Fwy., 713-333-8800) after hearing several friends call him "the next Bill Hicks." Unfortunately, the Houston Improv sits in the middle of the gigantic monstrosity known as The Marq*ee Center: the sort of place where teenagers go to make out, and where adults go to feel like teenagers. After sitting in 30 minutes' worth of standstill traffic and finding my way through the Rainforest Cafe-ish decor of The Improv's first floor, I get a seat just as the show begins. With jokes about his aborted son greeting him at the gates to heaven, MySpace friend-count obsessions and Internet porn, it's clear Stanhope is definitely part of a new breed of tech-savvy, politically conscious comedians. He's a far cry from the overconfident yuckmeisters who tend to stumble through sets that only they find funny. After I down three Cape Cods and listen to more of his humorous observations about the lameness of 21st-century American life, I have to agree with my friends' comparison: The man is a post-9/11, more alcoholic, less UFO-obsessed Bill Hicks, simultaneously a genius and a psychopath. He keeps the audience alternately aghast and laughing hysterically as he laments the decay of all things fun in our country. Considering that he's got a cult following that would make Jim Jones green with envy and he's seriously considering running for president as a Libertarian, he's got to be doing something right. I just might be voting for Doug. If we're going to have an alcoholic cokehead for president again, it might as well be a funny alcoholic cokehead.
1.5 ounces vodka
4 ounces cranberry juice
Combine vodka and cranberry juice in a rocks glass, stir and add ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
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