Discovery Channel is reviving the popular TV game show hosted by comedian Ben Bailey in a New York taxi

By Jennifer Calfas
December 01, 2017 08:00 AM

In the era of Uber and Lyft, traditional taxi companies have struggled to keep up as more people opt for the app-driven, ride-sharing companies instead.

But Uber-loving New Yorkers have an incentive to take a taxi once again: Cash Cab is back. Discovery Channel is reviving the popular TV game show hosted by comedian Ben Bailey in a New York taxi. (Bailey said the production company for the show at one point considered using Uber or Lyft instead, but they ultimately decided to go with the iconic yellow cabs.)

Driving a cab around New York, Bailey picks up random passengers who, unbeknownst to them, will have the chance to answer several rounds of trivia questions — and earn cash for each one they get right. If they get the answer wrong, Bailey kicks them out. The game show, which originally ran from 2005 to 2012, premieres on Discovery Channel at 10 p.m. on Monday.

Upon news of its revival, Bailey told MONEY Cash Cab fans spotted him on the street in recent months and expressed their excitement.

“It felt like the whole city was welcoming us back and happy to have us back,” Bailey said. “It was awesome.”

The show won’t stray too far from the original version, but will include celebrity guests (like Matthew Perry), who can help passengers answer the questions, and a new social media call-out for participants to request help mid-game, Bailey said. The social media shout-out, where Bailey goes live on Facebook to ask viewers the question, replaces the mobile shout-out, which was used previously on the show for real-time help.

Bailey quickly became a recognizable face in Cash Cab‘s heyday, which forced him to hide from incoming passengers and turn off the colorful lights in the cab to avoid being chased down by fans.

In one case, Bailey recalled a few men double-parked their car on Third Avenue in Manhattan just to catch the Cash Cab taxi to play. “By the time it ended, we don’t know what happened to their car,” Bailey said. “They said, ‘Just leave it!'”

Bailey has already earned three Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host for his gig on Cash Cab. Outside of the show, Bailey is a standup comedian — a profession he says has helped with his television job. “Standup comedy has kept my wits sharp,” Bailey, who must quiz passengers with trivia with ease on Cash Cab, said. “You also learn how to control the room and run the show.”

Though Bailey grew up playing Trivia Pursuit and watching Jeopardy with his parents, he admits he’s no trivia buff. However, memorizing the questions and answers to the questions he asks his passengers has taught him immensely. “I’ve put together a better timeline of world history because of the show,” Bailey said.

And as for passengers, once they get over the excitement of realizing they’re in the Cash Cab, perhaps they’ll get a few right.

“People burst into tears, people get out and shut the door — they have all kinds of different reactions,” Bailey said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time they scream, yell and say they can’t believe it.”