STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
He’s no longer driving a New York City taxi cab.
“I have two kids, an ex-wife, a girlfriend and a band, and a comedy career,” said New Jersey native Ben Bailey, who won four Emmy Awards as host of the game shows “Cash Cab” and “Cash Cab After Dark” on Discovery Channel.
“Cash Cab” had a healthy run of 400 episodes. “They threaten to bring it back,” joked Bailey, who had to complete training to become a legally licensed taxi driver in the Big Apple in order to realize the show’s concept.
“You can’t text and drive, but you can host a game show and drive,” he quipped.
Bailey said that very little of “Cash Cab” was scripted and that most people that appeared on the show were good sports.
His new stand-up special, “Ben Bailey Live and Uncensored,” has been completed, but it’s unknown where or when it will air. However, you can get an idea of what it will be like, and hear Bailey’s newest material, during a show Jan. 16 at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.
Be advised, however, that unlike his Comedy Central specials there will be some four-letter words.
One of the occupational hazards of stand-up comedy is audience hecklers — people that brazenly hijack a show by shouting things at the entertainer on stage. “I’ve torn them new ones many, many times. I’ve kicked out whole groups of people, sometimes physically,” said Bailey, who gets mistaken in public for CNN’s Mike Rowe.
“I always thought he should go on the road with a puppet — a micro Mike Rowe,” Bailey said. He laughs when told about a recent bank robbery committed by a Rowe look-alike. Bailey Googles the story and sounds as if he made a mental note to possibly write a joke about it.
“I was always a real [wise guy] in school. All I wanted to do was … make the other kids laugh,” he said.
Deciding spontaneously to leave the East Coast for Los Angeles, Bailey initially had difficulty breaking into the funny business. “I got a job answering the phones at the Comedy Store after trying to get a job at the Hyatt next door,” he recalled. One night, while cracking up the comics in the club’s green room with his tale of how he wound up in L.A., he got an offer for a stand-up gig.
“I feel very lucky to have found my way to something I love,” said Bailey.
Bailey acted in the movie “Spider-man 2,” but the scenes he was in got cut out in the editing process. “I still get residual checks for 32 cents. You keep plugging away; what’re you gonna do? It’s supposed to be about the art, whatever it is,” he said.
Bailey shares that he just shot a guest appearance on A&E’s “Unforgettable,” which he said would be airing within the next couple weeks.
Pausing to check on his 4-year-old son, the 45-year-old Bailey returned to the phone and observed that the nocturnal comedian lifestyle and daytime parental duties are hard to balance. “‘Let’s play tag!’
OK, I’ll be base. I’ll be asleep with a firetruck in one hand,” he said.
And this is coming from a man that enjoys participating in triathlons. Although Bailey hasn’t done one in two years, he says he plans to do one in September.