PILGRIMAGES: Mike Albo, “How I Work” (6/6)

Mike Albo

Mike Albo is my humor spirit guide. To see Mike perform is to fall in love with a Solid Gold Dancer trapped in an ironic performance poet’s mind who could win a shape-shifting duel with Carol Burnett. To read his writing is to be able to replay his self-deprecating, witty snark for maximum enjoyment since his delivery is often so breathless you can miss his best zingers. To me he will always be the most prolific, ambitious, Brooklyn-before-it-was-Brooklyn authentic artist bohemian. Ever.

We met when we both worked for the U.Va. campus newsweekly with aspirations to be The Village Voice. In the early ‘90s we moved to NYC to pursue our media/writing dreams. One emblematic night I recall meeting up at Benny’s Burritos to treat ourselves to the broke English major big night out: we split one of their football-sized burritos so that we could each afford our own jumbo frozen margarita (all for under $10!). Until this point, gyms in NYC were utilitarian-type community centers, but at this time places like Crunch and Equinox were opening and group classes were becoming the THING. While club membership was out of our reach, Mike told me about how he built his own step aerobics set-up at home. And I realized Mike is the kind of artist who can go the distance–not just because he has superlative creative talents, but because he’s practical enough to apply his creativity to work-arounds that will enable him to survive in NYC’s hostile economic ecosystem.

And 20-odd years later Mike’s high-caliber comedic career is a testament to being a survivor of the fittest. His flair for fantastic physical comedy features prominently in his monologues and Unitard comedy troupe sketches. He’s the rare heady humorist who can also Bob Fosse the hell out of a line.

This week Mike’s posts will take you on a pilgrimage with him to literal and figurative new frontiers that he has encountered on his creative trajectory–and on his road to spermhood!
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief


“I’m not doing enough.” That sentence lurks in my mind often. That little shadow-being mumbling out that phrase every time I feel like I haven’t spent enough time writing or working or whatever it is that makes you someone who gets a 9 million dollar book deal (NINE. MILLION. DOLLARS. !?!!? Ms. Schumer, I hope you will give at least half of that to educational programs like 826NYC). I often criticize myself for being too distracted or unfocused. It’s kind of a problem to call yourself a writer when you are cursed with restlessness and can’t sit still. So, to combat feeling crappy about myself, I try to own it. My friend Bec Stupak and I call each other Distract Artists. The way I create is the way I create. Oh well. I write at a kitchen table for about an hour, print out what I write, take it on the subway (I LOVE the subway! It’s like a $2.75 artist residency program!), go to the gym and swim and get ideas for revisions and then sit by the pool and revise and then get on the subway home and revise some more and then sit down and punch out revisions while I distract myself with my phone and the internet and music and NPR and texting. That’s how I work. Boom.


Photo credit: Erica Freudenstein

~~~Mike Albo is a writer, performer, author, comedian, and self proclaimed “thwarted poet”. He is the author of two novels (Hornito, The Underminer), a novella (The Junket), and, because publishing is weird now, an ‘ebook’ called Spermhood: Diary of a Donor, out this month on Amazon’s Kindle Singles. He is also a performer, having mounted 6 solo shows including Spray, My Price Point, and The Junket, which appeared Off Broadway at the Lyn Redgrave Theatre in 2014. He is transforming Spermhood into another solo show, slated to appear at Dixon Place in May 2016.

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