'Cash Cab': Ben Bailey Takes Us Behind-The-Scenes of His Quirky Game Show In a New York Taxi
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By Barb Oates
If you’ve ever been in a New York City cab, you’d be shocked to know how difficult the actual test is to get your license. It’s no easy task. Just talk to comedian Ben Bailey, the Emmy-winning host of Discovery Channel’s popular Cash Cab (Fridays), who not only shuttles unsuspecting riders to their destinations but also hosts a game show inside his cab while doing it.
“While I was taking [the exam], I was thinking of all the cab drivers I’ve had over the years and wondering how they possibly were able to pass the test,” Bailey admits. “You have to know the city really, really well to pass that test.”
Growing up in Chatham, N.J., Bailey thought he knew New York City pretty well and could take the test without completing the course. Yeah, that didn’t go over well.
“The guy said, ‘If you think you know it well enough to just take the test without preparing, I’ll give you this practice test to see.’ The first question, I think, was: ‘If you’re at 161st and Broadway, which bridge would you take to go to Yankee Stadium?’ It was a multiple-choice question. There were four possible answers, and I hadn’t heard of any of the bridges,” Bailey laughs. “I said, ‘All right, I’ve got to take the class.’”
Here we break down some of the behind-the-scenes details Bailey shared on his taxi gig, along with a few tips if you do happen to catch a ride.
1. Tailgating Is Only Welcome By One Vehicle The van that trails the cab and gets the exterior shots is actually the show’s production van — the control center of the show. “They are watching every camera, and are keeping track of all the parts of the game. Helping me keep up with all that stuff.”
2. Of Course, Ben Isn’t Reading The Questions While He’s Driving I mean, come on, how could he read and drive, right?! Ben memorizes all of the questions prior to the show. He’s also got an earpiece in, allowing producers to feed him the questions. He tells us that it’s easy to repeat the questions because he’s already memorized them.
3. Don’t Go Solo On This Ride While Bailey says that groups can be a lot of fun, they also can be really loud, and it gets tough to run the game over their excitement. But you don’t need to be a scholar to realize multiple brains are better than one. “Groups definitely have a better chance of winning. No doubt about that. The solo mission in the Cash Cab is a tough one,” Bailey says.
4. Fast Exits Do Happen You just never know who is going to get into the cab. Bailey tells us that one rider exited quickly, claiming to be part of the witness protection program and unable to be on TV.