Fare Play: Charlie Pickering jumps into the Cash Cab driver’s seat

There’s a new cabbie in the driver’s seat of Channel [V]’s Cash Cab. Meet Charlie Pickering, trivia tragic and man of the people

Try telling the new host of Cash Cab, comedian Charlie Pickering, that trivia is… well… trivial, and you might get more trouble than you bargained for. “People like inviting me to pub trivia nights because I know all the music questions,” he says. “But I get so competitive that, about halfway through the night, they really regret bringing me along.”

So it’s just as well he’s the one asking the questions on the show where contestants stand to take home a surprise windfall just by hailing a taxi on the streets of Perth. “It’s a great chance to have random people get in and be totally taken by surprise,” says Pickering of Australia’s first quiz show on wheels. “To someone who’s just got in a cab, it’s a pretty amazing bonus to win a couple of thousand bucks and a Nintendo on the way to wherever they are going.”

Pickering says the toughest part of the gig is the three-strikes rule, where contestants hit the curb if they get three questions wrong. “Oh, it’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking,” he says. “We had these two 18-year-old girls and they were lovely, but they knew nothing. I kicked them out and felt so bad.”

And he’s keen to draw on his acclaimed stand-up comedy roots, creating a hilarious cabbie character. “He’s got an accent and we don’t know exactly what the accent is. And he likes to ask weird hypothetical questions of the people who get in the cab,” he chuckles.

But for him it’s the characters that he meets that make his new job so amazing. “We had three professional wrestlers as passengers and they were enormous guys – they barely fit in the cab. But they were the nicest, most fun- loving guys; like they’d win 20 bucks and they would lose their minds.”

This article first appeared in OPTUS magazine, December 2008