Diversions

Roaches Drive Comedian to Bunk at Ikea

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Where do you go when your apartment is being fumigated? Comedian Mark Malkoff decided to spend the week living at an Ikea in Paramus, N.J.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

There's a life-in-the-big-city question: Where do you stay when your apartment is being fumigated? Hotels can be pricey, friends get tired pulling out their couch for you - there's always Ikea.

Mark Malkoff, a comedian in New York, called the Ikea in Paramus, New Jersey and asked if he could stay in their store while his apartment was being fumigated. They said yes. Mr. Malkoff has been there all week. He joins us from - what department?

Mr. MARK MALKOFF (Comedian): I'm just right now in a bedroom set. I have my own bedroom set, so I'm in the bathroom that doesn't work.

SIMON: What do you about, you know, bathroom stuff?

Mr. MALKOFF: Bathroom stuff is tough. I go to the - where all the other customers go. Everything is fake - the washer, dryer, toilet, two sinks, microwave. I can't make cookies in my oven - that's fake too. So it's really nice to look at, but it's all fake.

SIMON: How do you order your day?

Mr. MALKOFF: I get up. I put in my bathrobe and I walk through customers to get something to eat. So I stood in the cafeteria, customers just kind of stare and point...

SIMON: In your bathrobe.

Mr. MALKOFF: Yes. I'm in my bathrobe and my pajamas and then I head back to a shower that they set up for me.

SIMON: My memory of the cafeteria - I actually had some of the Swedish meatballs there. Are they good?

Mr. MALKOFF: The Swedish meatballs are a staple of Ikea. Unfortunately, I've been a vegetarian since I was a little kid, so Ikea is working on the first-ever tofu meatball. And I think they should name it The Mark Malkoff.

SIMON: By the way, there's a small child behind you that either is caught in an escalator or is throwing a tantrum.

Mr. MALKOFF: Yeah. That's a thing about living in here. It's constantly - people are all around me and there's - people are going through my bedroom, going through drawers. They don't know I live here. Then they see my boxer shorts.

SIMON: Are you alone at night?

Mr. MALKOFF: I am with my security guard, Jarvis(ph). He's not my security guard, but he's the store security guard. So when no one's here, we've been rollerblading, playing laser tag. We had a grocery cart race the other day that he won. And - you also have to remember that the fluorescent lights here are on in my bedroom set, about 21 hours throughout the day. The lights actually come on at 4:15 a.m. The construction normally begins around, like, I don't know, like, 6 a.m. People building furniture and sets about 20 feet from here, so, you know, I put earplugs in, but it still isn't really helping me sleep.

SIMON: Well, what's your Guide Michelin rating for the Ikea in Paramus?

Mr. MALKOFF: I think this place in incredible. I mean, every night, when people are leaving at 10 o'clock, I get on the PA system and they let me make whatever announcement I want. Normally, I say, this is the king of Ikea, Mark Malkoff, please get out of the store, I want to go to sleep.

SIMON: And you'll be moving out at midnight, Saturday, huh.

Mr. MALKOFF: I'm moving midnight. I might crash with you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MALKOFF: I hope that's okay with you...

SIMON: Of course it is.

Mr. MALKOFF: ...and your loved ones.

SIMON: My wife and children, we'll leave a key under the doormat, all right?

Mr. MALKOFF: Okay. I love it. It's so nice talking to you.

SIMON: Nice talking to you, too.

Mark Malkoff, speaking from the Ikea store in Paramus, New Jersey. To see video of his Ikea adventure, you can come to our Web site, npr.org.

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