When he’s not cruising through New York picking up unsuspecting contestants in his cab, Ben Bailey—host of the Discovery Channel’s trivia game show Cash Cab—is returning to his comedic roots, hitting the stage for his stand-up tour that stops at City Winery Boston on Aug. 31. We caught up with the comedian to talk performing on stage and rabbits in heels.
How did you initially get involved with comedy? I stumbled into it. I moved to LA to get into film—I always wanted to work in movies. I ended up getting a job answering the phones at a comedy store and, like a month later, I was on stage for the first time and knew immediately that I was gonna do stand-up for the rest of my life.
Do you prefer performing comedy live on stage or in Cash Cab? They’re very different. I love doing stand-up—there’s pretty much nothing like it in the world. You get this immediate feedback from the crowd, and the energy of it is pretty amazing. But the cab has a pretty awesome energy of its own, so I don’t know. It’d be a tough choice if I ever had to choose.
If you were picked up by the Cash Cab, how do you think you’d fare? I think it’s all the luck of the draw. If you get questions that you know the answers to, you’re going to be fine—but if you get stuff you don’t know, then you’re really kind of in trouble. It’s like a Slumdog Millionaire kind of thing.
What’s the most memorable encounter you’ve had on the show? You know, I’ve picked up thousands of people at this point and there have been some very memorable ones. I once picked up a guy, this giant man, probably weighed about 400 pounds, and he was wearing high heels and a purple velvet rabbit costume.
Have you ever been pulled over in the Cash Cab? I’ve been pulled over repeatedly, but I’ve never gotten a ticket. [Laughs.] Sometimes they pull me over, and it’s just because they wanted to take a picture with me.