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article image'Cash Cab' host Adam Growe brings trivia and comedy to the stage Special

By Jeff Cottrill     Jun 4, 2013 in Entertainment
Toronto - “Joel Zimmerman chatted on the Internet about finding a dead rodent in his computer, which is how he got what nickname? a) I7chy b) Myk3 c) Rata23 or d) deadmau5?” That's a taste of what you may get as a contestant in “The Adam Growe Quiz Show”.
It's the new live stage show starring comedian and TV host Adam Growe, and it comes to the Randolph Theatre in Toronto this Saturday. Best known to Canuck TV viewers (and to unsuspecting taxi passengers) as the host of the English-Canadian version of Cash Cab, Growe has created an interactive hybrid of comedy and trivia, in which audience members and guests answer pop-culture questions.
“People just love trivia,” Growe says, explaining part of the live show's appeal. “They love to play along, from their seats or from their homes.” But Growe wanted to do more than just make a game-show version of NTN, so he ended up creating a comedy show with a trivia twist. “I give my contestants a chance to enjoy some stand-up comedy, and then a chance to come onstage and play a trivia game where they can actually win cash out of my pocket.”
Growe, 45, isn't the only star of The Adam Growe Quiz Show; there will also be stand-up sets by Pete Zedlacher and Laurie Elliott, music by Stacey Kaniuk and an appearance by former Leafs winger Jeff O'Neill. “The show has got a full spectrum of entertainment,” says Growe.
“I always devise questions that stimulate a great reaction between the contestants or with the audience,” he continues, “and then provide humorous hints to make the experience humour-based, as opposed to a trivia night where you just go question-answer-question-answer. It's all random to the contestants, who don't know what they'll get until they're up there. I might get two guys who look like biker dudes and toss a Justin Bieber question at them, and it'll be fun for the audience to see them struggle with it or miraculously know the answer. It creates a frenetic energy in the room.”
The trivia in the show differs from that of Cash Cab in format and focus. Part of an international franchise that began in the U.K., Cash Cab follows Growe as he drives around looking for passengers and then surprises them with a chance to win money by answering general-knowledge questions. “The Discovery Channel has a strong bent towards technology, science and adventure,” says Growe. “A little more pop culture is creeping into the questions on Cash Cab, in that we might use a pop-culture nugget to get to the question. People who watch Discovery are a discerning audience, but it's not like they don't have any reference points to other things.”
Most comedians would rather be known for their stand-up, sketch or acting work. Growe's role as a quiz-show persona, it turns out, is the realization of a childhood dream. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to host a game show,” he admits. “I loved The Price Is Right with Bob Barker and Family Feud. At the same time – even though I didn't really have aspirations from a young age to be a stand-up comic – I kind of thought Johnny Carson did the same thing. I didn't really get the difference.” Now he gets to combine two performance forms that he loves into one job. “I have a lot of fun with it.”
Growe has, indeed, worn a lot of different hats over his 23-year career. Born in New York City and reared in Vancouver, he started out as a morning DJ on radio, first with DC 103.5 FM in Orangeville, Ontario and then with Toronto's EZ Rock. After his stand-up career took off, Growe landed a role on YTV's Monster Warriors and appeared in several TV comedy shows, including Comedy Now! and Premium Blend, and at the Just For Laughs festival. He also wrote and performed a one-man Fringe show, Adam Growe's The Mom and Pop Shop, while shooting the first season of Cash Cab.
These days, while juggling showbiz projects, Growe also runs his own interactive-media company, Gypsyaudio, leads leadership-training classes across the continent and acts as a Senior Consultant with The Humphrey Group. How does he find the time for all this?
“You adjust your schedule as best as you can,” he replies, “and you look forward to those little mini-breaks. I'm at my best when I'm doing more than one thing at a time. My passion, my baby, is this digital-media stuff that I'm trying to build some traction for. I don't have any sponsors or any way to generate revenue, but I wanted to do it all. So I've bit off more than I can possibly chew to do it, but I'm having a great time. Sometimes it gets really tight. Fortunately, my wife and kids are very supportive.”
Growe is even a licensed taxi driver – an obvious prerequisite for Cash Cab, about to shoot its eighth season. “Getting a license to drive a taxi is a little more difficult than I expected. I thought it would be a breeze, no offense to the guys who do it. I certainly know that cabbies work way harder than I have to work on my show, and one of the great surprises and reliefs to me is that cab drivers love the show. I have a lot of respect for how hard they work.”
Asked if it's difficult or awkward to host a quiz show while driving a taxi safely, Growe explains: “I half-joke that part of it is having three kids. So I'm used to driving safely and negotiating breakups of arguments in the back seat, or reaching around without looking back, or blindly handing snacks back. One of the reasons why I may have risen above the others in the audition process was that I was very confident and calm, and the producers knew I wasn't going to be bumping into curbs and stuff while driving a mobile television studio worth a quarter-million dollars.”
While Growe loves doing Cash Cab and hopes it continues for a long time, he has other plans too. “I'd like to turn The Adam Growe Quiz Show, or a variation of it, into a mainstream broadcast product. I'm trying to get fuel for how that might happen. I'm satisfied with the creative exercise of getting it out there, but at the very least, I'd like to transition. I'd love to host a show that's in my own voice, reflective of my personality, where I bring on other talented people in some way. Right now, the quiz-show platform seems to make the most sense.
“That might change five years from now, but I'm prepared to work with what makes sense right now, and I'm having a great time doing it.”
The Adam Growe Quiz Show is happening this Saturday, June 8 at Toronto's Randolph Theatre. Cash Cab airs frequently on Canada's version of the Discovery Channel.
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