The raucous and surprisingly poignant story of a young, Russia-obsessed American writer and comedian who embarked on a solo tour of the former Soviet Republics, never imagining that it would involve kidnappers, garbage bags of money, and encounters with the weird and wonderful from Mongolia to Tajikistan.
Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Siberia are not the typical tourist destinations of a twenty-something, nor the places one usually goes to eat, pray, and/or love. But the mix of imperial Russian opulence and Soviet decay, and the allure of emotionally unavailable Russian men proved strangely irresistible to comedian Audrey Murray.
At age twenty-eight, while her friends were settling into corporate jobs and serious relationships, Audrey was on a one-way flight to Kazakhstan, the first leg of a nine-month solo voyage through the former USSR. A blend of memoir and offbeat travel guide, this thoughtful, hilarious catalog of a young comedian’s adventures is also a diary of her emotional discoveries about home, love, patriotism, loneliness, and independence.
Sometimes surprising, often disconcerting, and always entertaining, Open Mic Night in Moscow will inspire you to take the leap and embark on your own journey into the unknown. And, if you want to visit Chernobyl by way of an insane-asylum-themed bar in Kiev, Audrey can assure you that there’s no other guidebook out there. (She’s looked.)
Comedian Murray takes readers on an entertaining journey through destinations in the former U.S.S.R. that aren't on a typical tourist's must-see list, such as Tajikistan, Chernobyl, and Siberia. "By the time I turned twenty-eight, I'd become so obsessed with the countries that gave us beets, Dostoyevsky and websites for streaming pirated movies that it seemed perfectly logical to spend a year traveling through the former Soviet Union and trying to learn Russian," she muses in her introduction. In witty stories, she chronicles her adventures negotiating stand-up comedy routines in front of Kazakhs (she has to perform in socks since no shoes are allowed inside), haggling taxi fares in Kyrgyzstan (she confused the exchange rate and was embarrassed when she realized they were charging her $3 rather than $70 ), and sleeping in a yurt with dive-bombing moths. The author's travels take her on rickety prop planes in Tajikistan, on the Trans-Siberian Highway, and in one particularly horrifying scene, a near-kidnapping in Turkmenistan by a human trafficker posing as a taxi driver. She visits her ex-boyfriend Anton's homeland of Belarus, which purportedly has the world's highest number of police officers per capita, and moves on to couch-surfing in Lithuania. Murray turns what for many women would be a scary solo journey into an exhilarating experience.