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Ben Bailey returns for a new season of ‘Cash Cab’

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Discovery Channel's Emmy-Award winning "Cash Cab" is back with a few updates after a 5-year hiatus. Host Ben Bailey drives unsuspecting passengers to their destination while they answer increasingly difficult trivia questions for cash.The season premiere was July 27 and the show will air at 7 p.m. on Fridays from now through the month of September. Discovery Channel's Emmy-Award winning "Cash Cab" is back with a few updates after a 5-year hiatus. Host Ben Bailey drives unsuspecting passengers to their destination while they answer increasingly difficult trivia questions for cash.The season premiere was July 27 and the show will air at 7 p.m. on Fridays from now through the month of September. (photo courtesy of Discovery Channel)

Comedian Ben Bailey says he is very happy to be back in the “Cash Cab” for a new season of shows.

The latest season of the Emmy-winning Discovery Channel game show consists of 10 new hour-long episodes. The season premiere was July 27 and the show will air at 7 p.m. on Fridays from now through the month of September.

“We’ve had so many good contestants and a lot of great games this season,” Bailey told me during a phone interview. “People are so enthusiastic when they get into the cab and it was a lot of fun to make these shows, I’m really looking forward to seeing them.”

Bailey pulls double duty as host and driver of the “Cash Cab” – a vehicle outwardly indistinguishable in appearance from any other New York City taxi.

After unsuspecting passengers enter the cab and announce a destination, Bailey gives them the ride of a lifetime by quizzing them on a variety of subjects ranging from popular culture to hard science. Riders earn cash all the way to their destination, but the questions become progressively difficult as the stakes get higher. Each incorrect answer results in a strike – three of which will result in Bailey kicking the passenger to the curb.

“When that happens, I try to be nice about it,” Bailey said with a laugh. “It’s the least I can do.”

According to Bailey, the new shows were shot over 20 days in May and June of this year.

The premiere episode of the new season featured an hour of shark-related trivia questions that coincided with Discovery’s 30th annual “Shark Week” marathon.

The episode included a ride in the “Cash Cab” taken by three friends, one of whom had just moved to New York City the day before.

“That’s pretty lucky, huh?” said Bailey. “I said to him that it’s automatic now – when you move to town, you get a free ride in the ‘Cash Cab.’”

Bailey says the new season features many memorable contestants, including one who was so elated to be in the “Cash Cab,” he nearly required emergency medical care.

“There was a heavyset guy who was so excited, he nearly threw himself over the seat,” Bailey explained. “We thought he was going to break the ‘Cash Cab’ but he ended up nearly breaking his nose.”

According to Bailey, the contestant and his girlfriend were so excited they began jumping up and down in their seat.

“She accidentally head-butted him in the nose,” Bailey said. “We had to pull over and stop the game for 10 minutes to make sure he was OK. It didn’t bother him that he nearly broke his nose. He was so overcome with joy to be in the ‘Cash Cab.’”

It’s nearly impossible, Bailey says, for him to go out without being recognized as the host of “Cash Cab.”

“I pretty much get spotted every time,” he said. “But one great thing about being recognized for something like ‘Cash Cab’ is that people are generally very nice. They always have positive things to say. I get about 99.9 percent positive feedback, which is great.”

As much as he enjoys hosting and driving the “Cash Cab,” Bailey says his first love is standup comedy. Bailey will bring his show to Boston’s City Winery for two performances on August 31 and the Stress Factory in Bridgeport, CT. on September 14 and 15. A word of caution: Bailey’s comedy show is for adults only.

“When people come to my standup show, I want them to forget that I’m the ‘Cash Cab’ guy,” Bailey explains. “I kind of want to get away from that but I also want to give people what they want, so I’ll tell some ‘Cash Cab’ stories and do a couple of bits about the show. The audience has paid to come see me so I’ll talk about the show a little bit but that’s a brief part of what I do. I’ll give them a ‘Red Light Challenge’ yell, which is what they really want,” Bailey said, laughing.

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