Comedian and host of ‘Cash Cab’ coming to Albert Lea

Published 2:13 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

For the  second time ever, a comedian is set to perform at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center next Wednesday when Ben Bailey of “Cash Cab” takes the stage.

His foray into comedy was complete happenstance.

“I stumbled into a job answering the phones at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and then got free tickets to shows and started watching and thought I could do that,” he said.

Email newsletter signup

One night he started telling a story in the green room, and someone asked him how long he had been doing standup comedy.

“I said I just started,” he said.

So Skip E. Lowe, who Bailey said was the inspiration for the Martin Short character Jiminy Glick, offered him a spot on a weekend show.

But Bailey originally declined the offer before calling Lowe the next day.

“I didn’t have anything else going on, so I called him and said I’ll do it,” he said.

He got a laugh from his first line, and Bailey knew from that moment he would be a comedian for the rest of his life.

Bailey is best known for hosting the popular, Emmy Award-winning show “Cash Cab,” which he described as a game show in a taxi in New York City.

“I would ask passengers trivia questions, and they could win cash or they could get kicked out if they got three wrong,” he said, noting the cab served as an actual means of transportation where he’d take people to where they needed to go. But if a passenger got three questions wrong they would be kicked out wherever they were.

The idea for Cash Cab originated in London, though it never took off. So they took the concept to New York and asked Bailey if he was interested in doing it.

He started the show in 2005, and the last shows they filmed were in 2019, producing over 650 episodes.

“It was fun,” he said. “I liked getting people into it. People, when they got in, they were a little too cool for the game and stuff, but by the end they were all caught up in it and having a great time.”

Bailey described his upcoming show as him standing on the stage, “talking into a microphone and saying funny things.”

His goal in performing is for the audience to laugh to the point where they forget about their stresses. He won’t do anything political, and described the show as observational, absurdist humor.

Bailey has been in the business for almost three decades and he’s been in two Comedy Central specials.

John Caucutt, building manager for the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, is excited for the chance to bring comedy to a building that doesn’t typically see it.

“Ben’s manager contacted me through the website and said he was doing a tour and asked if we would be interested,” Caucutt said in an email. “… Ben is a nationally known comedian and his ‘Cash Cab’ is still very popular in reruns.”

According to Caucutt, the center has rehearsals for “Steel Magnolias,” the first show of ACT’s 58th season, next week.

“Since it was in the middle of the week and a comedian doesn’t need a lot of tech stuff, I decided to go for it,” he wrote. “… I watched some Youtube videos and determined that his style of comedy would go over well.”

Caucutt’s goal is to bring in more diverse crowds with more varied entertainment, and noted ticket sales were doing well.

Bailey’s show, the start of a string of shows across the Midwest, is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $25, or $35 for VIP meet-and-greet, and can be purchased at, calling either the 24/7 call center (877-730-3144) or the box office (507-377-4371), or visiting the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center lobby during theater hours.

“Come out to the show, it’s going to be fun,” Bailey said. “We’re going to laugh a lot.”