Cash Cab is a mobile game show, in which host and cab driver Ben Bailey picks up passengers and awards them with cash when they answer general knowledge questions correctly. The show presents the passengers as shocked to learn that they will be riding in the Cash Cab upon entry, and the game takes place while Bailey is driving them to their destination.
Is Ben Bailey a Real Cab Driver?
The quick answer to this question is yes, he is.
The longer answer is that Bailey is actually a comedian, but he has taken and passed the New York City exam in order to get his license as a cab driver. The Cash Cab is a real taxi, and Bailey is authorized to act as the driver.
Are the Contestants Actually Random?
Here's where it gets a bit tricky. If you've watched the end credits of the show closely, you've seen the line, "Some contestants have been pre-screened prior to their appearance on the show." This opens up a whole can of worms that leads to all kinds of rumors and assumptions.
What we know is that some contestants are indeed random, and picked up off the streets of New York. Not all of these contestants make it on the show, even if they play a complete game, however. Keeping in mind that the goal of any television program is to entertain, there are bound to be some contestants that just don't deliver.
Other contestants are indeed screened and/or recruited. There have been reports of a variety of different methods for this process – some people have said that they were approached on the street and asked if they'd be interested in appearing on a game show. Others have attended auditions and played mock trivia games.
The key thing to understand though is that none of these contestants, pre-screened or otherwise, know that they are about to play Cash Cab. Those who have auditioned or been recruited are told that they have made the cut, and that a taxi is coming to pick them up and take them to the filming location. Of course, when that cab arrives, it's the Cash Cab.
How Does Bailey Read the Questions and Control the Lights if He's Driving?
Lots of people have asked how Ben Bailey can possibly either memorize the questions, or read them from a screen, if he's busy driving the cab. He wears a small earpiece, and is fed the questions and answers as he's driving.
Another issue that's been brought up concerns all the lights and music in the cab. As with the questions, it's difficult to imagine one person watching traffic and driving while also paying attention to the timing of the lights and sounds that go along with the game. In order to keep Bailey free from too many distractions, an assistant enters the cab and sits in the front passenger seat after the contestants agree to play. This assistant looks after the details like lights and sounds.
How Does the Cash Cab Never Get Stuck in Traffic?
This one's easy – editing. The cab very likely does get stuck in traffic, considering it is New York City, after all. But, as with any game show, the final aired episode is edited so that things like traffic jams don't slow it down.
Why do Contestants get Credit for so Many Wrong Answers?
This one I can't help you with, sorry! I've noticed too that contestants get credit for answers that are in fact incorrect. I don't know how the show handles this, or if they're even concerned with it.
Is the Cash that Bailey Hands Out Real?
Nope! The money that the contestants get as they exit the cab, which is meant to represent their winnings, isn't real cash at all. Lots of game shows do this. The contestants get fake cash, but are sent a real check after their episode airs.