Ben Bailey Takes Us Behind the Scenes of ‘Cash Cab’

Ben Bailey of Cash Cab Discovery Channel

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, who not only shuttles unsuspecting riders to their destination but also hosts a game show inside his cab while doing it. Cash Cab returns with new episodes on Fridays at 7pmET, beginning with a special shark themed episode on Friday, July 27.

“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, said: ‘If you’re at 161st and Broadway, what 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 taxing 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. Your Seat In The Cab Matters

If you are fortunate to hail the Cash Cab, keep in mind that the cab has about 10 cameras inside of it that are filming constantly. Behind the front passenger’s seat tends to be the most popular angle that makes it on TV and it’s also the tightest crop, so take a third-row seat if you don’t want to expose your blemishes.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Awkward Exits Also Happen

You know those moments when some people just shouldn’t be seen together, let alone taking part in a televised game show. “Once in a great while somebody gets in there and goes, ‘Oh, no. I can’t do this.’ … Several times we’ve had a couple get in and then say they couldn’t play because they were not actually a couple, if you know what I mean.” Naughty, naughty.

  1. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover …

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh man, these people don’t have a chance,’” Bailey says of his passengers. “Then they know everything. Other times I’m like, ‘These guys are going to get everything,’ and then, they don’t know anything, or almost nothing. Part of the fun of watching the show is going, ‘Oh, boy, these guys don’t have a chance, look at them.’ Then they surprise you.”

  1. What Losers Tend To Do

“[Past contestants] show up at my comedy shows sometimes and tell me the story of their ride in the Cash Cab, and if they say they didn’t win, I always get a little nervous. I’m like, they lost, and now they’ve sought me out here. I hope they’re not too disgruntled.”

  1. The Cash Cab People Know You Are Stalking Them

“Usually later in our shooting season, when word has gotten out that we’re out on the street, people are out there looking for us, and they’re trying to get me. Sometimes they’re following us around in their cars, and they try to wait for me to stop, and then they park and try to run up and hail me.” Also, when the cab drops people off, it always moves to another location before another game is started.