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The Junket: Writer Mike Albo Took A Freebie, Got Fired For It: Now What?

By Max McCormack

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.

What adds to Albo’s quick-witted hilarity are his poorly veiled—“for legal purposes” – fictionalized names for the publications and brands involved like “the Tomes” (the Times), Dudester (Thrillist), TripBlue (JetBlue), and Jabber (Gawker).

If Albo knows anything, it’s how absurd New Yorkers have become. His portrayals of everyone from the Olsen-like blogger to the high-strung PR girl Taylor on his trip are fully embodied and totally relatable. If you live in New York City (and many other urban enclaves), you know these people.

The best uproar came from the dynamic between Albo and his editor at a CondĂ© Nast magazine. Their relationship is tense, which Albo contributes to “a cock in common”—that thing when you both slept with the same person but you refuse to talk about it because the third party is such a mess. Sound familiar? His bukkake reference, however, only drew laughs from a portion of the audience. I think you know which one.

Albo’s approach is fresh and humble and, despite the goal of the show, you may be leaving desirous for macarons and a luxury high-rise apartment. His grasp on the ridiculous realities of life in New York makes you feel a little less alone in this big, bad city.

The Junket runs through April 20 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. Tickets available at CultureProject.org.

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