TV

Sean Kelly: Storage Hunters, spying and finding a dead body

From salesman to store detective to military intelligence work, Storage Hunters' Sean Kelly admits he's led a colourful life...

Storage Hunters is on TV pretty much 24/7. Are you surprised by how popular it is in the UK?

I wondered why people embraced it so much but as I spend more time here it seems to make sense. Storage Hunters is like the Antiques Roadshow meets WWE.

Did you think Storage Hunters UK would work as well as its US version?

I was concerned. I knew of Brits being very polite, rserved and well-mannered. But once I got here I was shocked! Boisterous people exist here, maybe even more so than in the States.

Has the number of people attending auctions increased since the show began?

Attendance has gone through the roof. The guys who were making a living doing this are upset. Where there used to be 30 or 40 people at an auction there are now 700 or 800, and a lot of novices who overbid everything because they see it on TV and want to buy something.

But in the show they always find some hidden treasure, it seems you can never lose!

You have to film a lot before you find that stuff. They don’t show enough of the boring ones, the ones most people make a living from with stuff you can take to car boot sales – dishes, old furniture, knick-knacks. The big scores they love to show on TV? Those are rare.

How often do you open a storage locker and find a dead body?

Pretty often people will put urns and ashes in there. A dead body, that’s only happened once.

What advice do you have for people who would like to try their bidding hand?

If you’ve never done this before you should go to five or 10 auctions without money. Just go, make a note of what things are selling for then go home and figure out how you would sell this stuff. How much effort would it take? How much profit would I make? If you go into an auction blind it’s so easy to overpay because you get caught up in the emotion.

The only sure winner is the auctioneer.

Yeah that’s right. I know approximately how much money I will make because I know on average what each unit will sell for and I know I’m going to get 20 per cent from the facility and 10 per cent from the buyers. I wouldn’t like to be a bidder myself.

In September you are starting a stand-up tour of the UK. What is your comedy style like?

A lot of it is me talking about my life. I was driving a forklift in Germany by the age of 16, after that I moved to Italy and worked as an undercover store detective on an army base, then enlisted and became a German translator for military intelligence.

Were you the one listening in to Angela Merkel’s phone calls?

Nothing that exciting. By the time I got to Germany the reunification had just happened and it instantly became illegal to listen into the East Germans. I did a little interrogating for a bit then they decided to use all the German linguists in Iraq.

Was a lot of German spoken in Iraq?

We didn’t have enough Arabic linguists so they got a bunch of college kids from Kuwait who they put through two weeks basic training. We were basically the assistants to these Kuwaiti kids. After I got out of the military I sold life insurance, tried my hand at advertising then managed the San Diego Reader, which is the fifth largest weekly paper in the US. As a hobby I started doing comedy and the comedy led to the auctions. Kind of a colourful background, huh?

I thought I had a Storage Hunters board game but it’s a Storage Wars one. Since I’m the kind of person who buys a Storage Wars board game, I haven’t got any friends so I haven’t played it yet.

That’s hilarious. We have a Storage Hunters app that’s number one in the UK app store just now. It’s only 79p.

Sold!

Storage Hunters UK is currently airing on Dave. The next episode is on Tuesday 7 July at 8pm. For Sean’s tour dates visit seanbrandonkelly.com

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