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‘Cash Cab’ Host Ben Bailey Hopes Reboot Brings Some ‘Relaxation’ to Quarantine Tension

”It’s supposed to make you feel good, leave you feeling happy,“ gameshow host tells TheWrap

Bravo’s first season of the revamped “Cash Cab” took its mid-season break last fall, before a pandemic took over the world and quarantined millions in their homes, away from friends, family, jobs and, yes, cabs — even “the only one that pays you.” Longtime host Ben Bailey is optimistic that Wednesday’s premiere will offer a little “relaxation.”

“There’s a lot of underlying tension right now that everybody’s dealing with,” he told TheWrap by phone last week, “with bad news and difficult situations all over the place. I’ve always felt like — and this is true for my standup as well — entertainment is supposed to be entertainment. It’s an escape from stuff, you know? It’s supposed to make you feel good, leave you feeling happy, give you a break from the stuff that stresses you out and the parts of your life that suck at the moment.”

Amid the coronavirus crisis, a lot of parts of life are “suck at the moment,” but Wednesday’s 11:30 p.m. ET premiere, filmed long before this all began, is full of lighthearted moments. Captain Sandy Yawn, from Bravo’s “Below Deck Mediterranean,” makes a guest appearance, hopping in the cab that Bailey drives around New York City while quizzing passengers on trivia and, hopefully, rewarding them with money for right answers. Her fellow contestants’ jaws dropped when she got in, he said.

The addition of “Bravo-lebrities” is just one element of the revamped “Cash Cab” that stands out compared to the older version fans remember from Discovery. Bailey said there’s a new “pop-culture twist” to the questions, the cab is picking up a “wider variety of characters” and the production value has gone up.

“It just looks amazing, in my opinion. From our humble beginnings in the first season, like, things were pretty… pretty bare-bones out there,” said Bailey, who’s been doing at-home standup livestreams to benefit No Kid Hungry and Feeding America during the pandemic.

The world might be changing because of the coronavirus, but Bailey seems hopeful about the future. Being a cab driver has been a requirement for much of his career in comedy, so he’s already seen the landscape of that industry change as ride-hailing apps have gained popularity, but, “there’s still plenty of people hailing regular cabs,” he assured TheWrap.