The Junket: In brief
The very witty Mike Albo (The Underminer) recounts his roller-coaster misadventures as a style columnist, New York scenester, blog target and media victim. David Schweizer directs.
The Junket: Theater review by Jenna Scherer
“Think of this as a really insecure TED Talk,” Mike Albo says at the beginning of his breezy yet affecting one-man show. Anyone who’s ever lived by the pen will feel the close-to-the-bone shave of Albo’s tale, a sort of state of the union for freelance writers in New York City.
Media watchers may recall the saga of Albo’s unceremonious canning from The New York Times in 2009—where he was the “Critical Shopper” columnist—after he attended a Thrillist-sponsored press junket that violated the Times’ editorial policy. Albo tells the tale of this fateful junket using thinly veiled aliases for the parties involved (Thrillist becomes “Dudester,” the Times is the “Tomes.”)
A David Sedaris crossed with a gentler Hunter S. Thompson, Albo takes us through the three-ring circus of an all-expenses-paid trip to Jamaica, populated by bloggers and “trip-appropriate microcelebrities.” Between the junket and its consequences, he takes us through his career in the city, working for a series of failing magazines that he watched “lumber off into the snow like giant, dying woolly mammoths.”
Albo’s observations are as witty as they are cutting, and get to a harsh truth about the plight of the modern journo-for-hire: that no matter how busy and well respected you are, you will probably not actually make enough money to survive. Barefoot and clad all in white, Albo moves across the stage like a squirrel being stalked, cutting through contemporary New York’s haze of bullshit. One thing is clear—in cutting Albo loose, the “Tomes” sacrificed a majorly clever voice. But the Gray Lady’s loss is theatergoers’ gain.—Theater review by Jenna Scherer