All Tech Considered
11:56 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Call Me, Haiti? One Man's Quest To Skype Around The World

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 6:59 am

Comedian Mark Malkoff has lived for a week inside of an IKEA store, consumed beverages at 171 Starbucks in Manhattan in less than 24 hours and proved that his kid's Big Wheel bike could beat a New York City bus across 42nd Street.

But after all those stunts, there are still worlds left to conquer — like talking to someone in every country in the world over Skype. Malkoff used Facebook and Twitter to locate willing participants in 162 countries — including North Korea! — and then joined them in a video chat. Malkoff tells NPR's Scott Simon that he was surprised by the response his project received, with calls including serenades, prayers and invitations to visit.


Interview Highlights

On the kids in Gambia he Skyped with, and other surprises

"Weren't they adorable? .... I had no idea that people were going to bring their kids into the video, pets — people prayed in the video, people sang to me."

On whether he's still in touch with his global Skype contacts

"I would say probably a quarter of the people have invited me to stay in their homes. That was just something I did not expect ... they were proud of their country — they even would go outside and show me landmarks, they would show me the mountains — I got to see the entire city of Dubai, which was beautiful, Tiananmen Square. And I tried to reciprocate, so I showed people around the world the Brooklyn Bridge. I was in Times Square showing them all around."

On the themes of their messages to the world

"It was just love and peace ... you know, we're way more similar than different. And I've gotten a lot of messages from viewers around the world that ... the video definitely made them laugh, but people were crying a lot. I mean, the words were just very touching."

On whether this was more than just a publicity stunt

"I feel like I've made all these friends, and I really do hope to travel and meet some of these people ..."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Comedian Mark Malkoff has lived for a week inside of an IKEA store. He's consumed beverages at 171 Starbucks in Manhattan in less than 24 hours, and he proved that his kids Big Wheel bike could beat a New York City bus across 42nd Street. So what worlds are left to conquer? How about talking to someone at every country in the world over Skype.

MARK MALKOFF: Good morning Belgium.

Good morning Pakistan.

FEMALE: Welcome to Beijing.

SIMON: Mark Malkoff used Facebook and Twitter to try to locate willing participants in 162 countries, including North Korea. He joins us now from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

MALKOFF: Oh Scott, it's great talking to you again. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: And the kids in the Gambia with whom you spoke just made me smile.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Unintelligible)

MALKOFF: I mean, aren't they adorable? I mean, it was just like, I had no idea that people were going to bring their kids into the video, pets, people prayed in the video, people sang to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

MALKOFF: It would mean a lot to me if you could sing something from the ABBA album.

SIMON: The Swedish guy could not sing ABBA very well.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAN SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

MALKOFF: No, I don't think he's going to be hired on "Mama Mia" anytime soon.

SIMON: Are you still in touch with anybody you met this way?

MALKOFF: They have invited me, I would say probably a quarter of the people have invited me to stay in their homes. That was just something I did not expect. They were proud of their country. They even would go outside and show me landmarks. They would show me the mountains, I got to see the entire city of Dubai which was beautiful, Tiananmen Square, and I try to reciprocate, so I showed people around the world the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was just this connection.

SIMON: I was very touched by the fact that when, at least what I saw, when you asked people what they wanted in life, whatever their differences there was an astonishing commonality in the answer.

MALKOFF: Yeah, it's true. I mean, it was just love and peace and it was just, you know, we're way more similar then different. And I've gotten a lot of messages from viewers around the world that the video definitely made them laugh, but people were crying a lot. I mean, the words were just very touching. It just really, really changed me doing this video.

SIMON: Look, I enjoy your self-seeking publicity stunts, but...

MALKOFF: OK.

SIMON: I'll look forward to the next one, but was this something else too?

MALKOFF: You know, just I feel like I've made all these friends and I really do hope to travel and meet some of these people.

SIMON: That would be nice, wouldn't it?

MALKOFF: Yeah, you can come with me.

SIMON: Thank you. Good. This is good to know. Well, Mark, good talking to you.

MALKOFF: Scott, it was a pleasure as always.

SIMON: Comedian Mark Malkoff in New York.

MALKOFF: If you could say one thing to people all around the world, what would it be?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Just tell everyone to be happy, be satisfied, be at peace.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Love one another.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: I would tell the world to have much more love to each other.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Related program: