March 17, 2014

In today’s digital media landscape, how important is integrity? And can you really blame a freelance journalist for taking a free vacation? Mike Albo, whom you may remember the “Critical Shopper” column in the New York Times (and his many contributions to Out magazine), did just that. He spent a semi-reluctant weekend in Jamaica sponsored by JetBlue and Thrillist. Upon returning to New York, a city he swears not to love, which has kicked his ass on many occasions over the past 20 years, he got the boot from the Times. That’s the real-life version. In The Junket, Albo’s one-man show (adapted from his e-book of the same title), which opened on Sunday, March 16 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in New York City, Albo retells the chaotic, unfair, and hilarious story from top to bottom. He explains his plight as a struggling gay man in New York, stating in his lovably manic way, how tough being poor can be.

Show Business Weekly


March 18, 2014

In the media landscape of today, it is practically impossible to escape the temptations of swag. Mega brands pay millions of dollars to pamper journalists in order to get a write-up on their airline, fashion brand, deodorant, you name it! Writer/performer Mike Albo explores this trend while retelling his own tale of a luxury press junket gone horribly wrong. If you’re unfamiliar with Albo’s background, he explains his life as a struggling freelance writer. On paper he seems successful, having written for giant magazines like GQ, New York, and Glamour. He also maintained a column in the New York Times called “The Critical Shopper.” Of course, for legal purposes, Albo creates hilarious poorly veiled fictional names for the publications and brands involved, such as The New York Tomes.

Theatre Is Easy


March 21, 2014

2009 was a temperamental time, especially for print journalists who found their jobs ending as papers folded and online blogs like Gawker tracked their demise. Mike Albo’s one-man show The Junket (which was originally a Kindle single) describes his real life experience as being at the center of a controversy that seems to embody this turbulent time in media. As a freelance journalist in New York City, Mike Albo thought he had hit it big the day he got his own biweekly column with the New York Times, “The Critical Shopper.” But as a freelance employee without health insurance or any benefits whatsoever, Albo had to struggle to make it on less than $25,000 a year. While Albo lived paycheck to paycheck he spent his days writing about the luxurious lives of Manhattan’s uber wealthy, visiting designer stores and fashion shows to write about items that cost far more than he could ever dream of affording.

Theater Pizzazz

Eric J.

March 19, 2014

Two solo shows by Culture Project are currently running in repertory at the Lynne Redgrave Theater. Both The Real Americans and The Junket look at how their creators struggle to fit into American society with humorous and tragic results. Mike Albo’s journey takes him to Jamaica on a frivolous junket for a men’s lifestyle website with serious repercussions back home in New York. In both pieces, the performers excel at creating distinct characters with varying physical and vocal mannerisms while telling hilarious and unsettling stories of what it means to be a writer in America. Mike Albo’s trip in The Junket took him on a life-altering round trip from New York to Jamaica. Albo isn’t interested in multiple subjects’ narratives, but his own tragicomic tale of losing his prestigious, if poorly paying, writing gig speaks volumes about the evolving—or flat lining—print media market and the tricky and often terrifying life of a freelancer. Albo’s well-documented fall from grace involves many popular brands, websites, and publications whose names he changes for legal purposes.


March 24, 2014

The life of a freelance journalist is not a pretty one: As described by Mike Albo in his often amusing but slight solo show, "The Junket", it’s filled with anxiety, insecurity and professional perils. Mr. Albo, a freelancer who formerly wrote the “Critical Shopper” column for The New York Times, among other jobs, recounts in this “really insecure TED talk” how he once accepted an all-expenses-paid junket to Jamaica — and the consequences, once bloggers and a media website got on his case. (Mr. Alba tinkers with all the names in the story. The media website is named Jabber, and the newspaper in question is The Tomes.) The conflict-of-interest brouhaha eventually led to the loss of his high-profile gig at The Times. His short show, presented at the Lynn Redgrave Theater by the Culture Project, is not so much bitter payback to those who reproached him — well, O.K., there’s some of that, and, in a way, who can blame him for feeling victimized by an ever-morphing, increasingly murky media landscape?