'Cash Cab': 5 things we learned riding with Ben Bailey

Mandi Bierly
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Cash Cab is back! And as you can see in the video above, no one is happier about it than we are.

After a five-year hiatus, the Discovery trivia series returns Dec. 4 with its Emmy-winning host, comedian Ben Bailey, once again behind the wheel. There are, however, some changes: While contestants still get booted out of the cab if they get three questions wrong — even if they haven’t reached their destination — they can now, in addition to the classic “street shout-out,” do a “social media shout-out” if they’re stumped. Also, each week one group of contestants is surprised with a celebrity passenger (including Matthew Perry, Scott Bakula, and Brooke Shields) joining their team.

For Yahoo Entertainment’s ride in the Cash Cab, Bailey’s stories were the real star. Here’s what we learned:

1. A handful of people have, after learning they’re in the Cash Cab, opted to get out and not play the game. “For different reasons,” Bailey told us. “Some people said they were in the Witness Protection Program. One woman said she works for the CIA and couldn’t be on TV. And several different people were with someone other than their spouse. They’re like, ‘Nope, can’t do it. Can’t be seen on TV.'”

Of course, there’s always the chance someone is simply not in the mood. “I had a woman start crying when she found out she was in the Cash Cab,” he says. “She, like, panicked and was just sobbing. I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ She was like, ‘It’s just been a crazy day. I flew in from Texas, and I had a job interview, and I didn’t make it, and I didn’t get the job. And now I’m trying to get to the airport and I have to play this stupid game.'” She climbed right out, Bailey says: “It was hilarious. [I mean] it was awful, because she was genuinely in pain, but it was pretty funny looking back.”

2. Contestants do occasionally become enraged after getting the answer to a question wrong. Our group was close to the worst, Bailey joked. But seriously, “Sometimes people get pretty angry. These guys struck out on a question, the answer to the question was ‘Dirty bomb,’ and this dude just got out on the corner of Third Avenue and 50-somethingth street and was screaming, ‘Dirty bomb!’ over and over. I’m like, ‘Dude, you need to think about what you’re doing.’ He was freaking out. …. He was never heard from again,” Bailey said.

He also vividly remembers two guys down on the Lower East Side. “They went for the video bonus, and I hit ’em with a figure skating question, and they were like, ‘I think it’s axel. I think it’s axel.’ And they went back and forth and agreed completely that it was axel. And then the guy in the answer seat said ‘Salchow,’ and I was like, ‘Oh no! It was axel!’ And they lost everything. I thought they were gonna fistfight. The guy was so pissed. He did like a double-fisted punch into this partition right here. And I go, ‘There’s no punching in Cash Cab.’ And he goes, ‘I didn’t!’ We have it on eight different cameras,” Bailey said, laughing. “One second after he did it, he’s like, ‘I didn’t!’ It was pretty hilarious.”

3. Yes, people have missed their first three questions. “Three and out? There’s been quite a few of those,” Bailey said. “We always hope for those when it’s our last drive before lunch. ‘If this guy gets one, two, three, we’re gonna get an extra half hour of lunch.'”

4. The host is a master multitasker. Though he doesn’t have to deal with the sound effects while maneuvering through Manhattan traffic (those are added in postproduction), Bailey does have to listen to the producer relaying the questions through his earpiece. “The driving is sort of like second nature. It’s sort of happening under the surface the whole time. But I also have to keep in mind that it is much more important than the game,” he said, laughing again. How close has he come to a fender bender? “Pretty close,” he admitted. “Never actually had one, but we’ve had some close calls.”

5. He has had inebriated passengers. “Oh God, yes,” he said. “I usually am like, ‘All right, I will try to be patient because this will be entertaining. But it’s not fun for me, generally, when they’re drunk.” Has anyone ever thrown up in the Cash Cab? “That’s a surprisingly popular question,” he said. “No one has ever thrown up in the Cash Cab. It is one of the only taxis in New York.”

Cash Cab returns Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. on Discovery.

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