In the Seventies, Martin Scorsese introduced us to Travis Bickle, the one kind of cabbie in New York City you hope you never get...
Having said that:
Q: Nearly thirty years on the other side of the TAXI DRIVER spectrum, who is the one kind of cabbie, with the face of a pugilist, the body of a bouncer or a basketball player and the rap of a game show host, whom you DO hope to flag down on the streets of Manhattan?
If you answered Ben Bailey, you are CORRECT, sir or madam! And you are also on CASH CAB, the Discovery Channel's addictive conceit that takes something like TRIVIAL PURSUIT and makes it mobile.
The gregarious and funny Bailey, a stand-up comedian, avid triathlete and sometime actor is the licensed cabbie behind the wheel of a "magic" van that pays YOU for a cab ride, instead of the other way around. You just have to give correct answers for the length of your trip to a series of general knowledge questions at different prize levels: $50 each, $100 each and $200 each in the "After Dark" edition (the regular show pays half those amounts.)
There are two "Shout-Outs" if you get into trouble on any questions: one you can use by calling for help on your cell phone, the other by flagging down someone nearby - a "Street Shout-Out." But, danger, Will Robinson! Get three questions wrong and you lose all the winnings and Ben pulls over and kicks you out on the street wherever you get your third and final strike...unless you're lucky enough to have already arrived at your destination. Then you can say you got a free cab ride and you were on TV!
Another great feature is the "Red Light Challenge" Stopping at a red light triggers the Challenge, a multi-part question where you have to name a short list of people or places that have something in common. If you get
them all right, you tack on an additional $250 to whatever you've won. If you don't get them all, there's no penalties...you just don't get that extra dough.
And of course it wouldn't be a game show without a twist at the end. If you make it to your destination a winner, Ben gives you the option to double your money with a "Video Bonus" question (sponsored on later shows by AFLAC.) A TV screen shows a video clue while Ben gives out the question about the video. You know the deal - answer it correctly and you leave a lot richer than when you got in. If you don't, you won't.
No doubt that avid Discovery Channel watchers who either live in or visit NYC are constantly on the lookout for Mr. Bailey. I'm sure if I make it up there one of these days, I'll be doing the same. But I think my first question to him wouldn't be about getting easier questions, but about whether or not CASH CAB is hiring more drivers! This is a SWEET gig!
Until that day, I think I'll just keep watching the past episodes, hoping that they'll carry this series for another year at least, and vicariously "enjoying the rides!"
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