It’s all come full circle for the Storage Hunters team.
Sean Kelly and his friends T-Money and Green Mile started out as comedians 19 years ago, and it is as stand-up comedians that they go on tour now, with a date taking in the Theatre Royal Brighton on Tuesday, October 24 at 8pm.
Storage Hunters, the reality TV series from the US, has picked up a dedicated UK cult following since being broadcast on Dave. Back in 2009, Sean was doing auctions during the day and stand-up at night: “I was looking for my own TV show to try to become famous, and I found it in the least likely place – my day job.”
Storage Hunters was born.
As Sean explains, it all centres around self-storage units – and the fact that if you don’t keep up on your rental and if you ignore all the letters reminding you to pay up, then eventually the contents of your lock-up will be auctioned.
“Some people just stop paying for some reason. There are maybe a million reasons. Maybe they go bankrupt. Maybe they just lose interest. Maybe they get divorced. Maybe they just move on. And they just forget about what they have got stored.”
Which is when, after attempts to get the rent have failed, the auction happens.
“Even the people that own the facilities don’t know what is inside the units. People just put their personal belongings in them, and the people come along to the auction and we roll the door up. It gives the bidders the chance to have a general look at what is inside, but they can’t go pulling things out, and then for one flat price, they get the lot. By the time it goes to auction, the actual owners will have had a series of letter and there is a court process. The owners of the storage facility just have to do it. Sometimes they can go for months without rent, six months or a year. It all adds up, and even when they do the auctions, they never come close to getting what is owed them. It is just a risk of the business.”
And this is what Sean pitched as a TV programme when he saw a couple of guys coming to blows: “It was like the Antiques Roadshow meets WWF wrestling!” Initially, Sean couldn’t get anyone interested, but once he had made the breakthrough, it all snowballed. 80 episodes were made in the States and then it became a hit in the UK.
“There are now a total of 136 episodes which are currently being shown in 138 countries in the world. When we were shown the list of countries, we just thought it was insane.”
Inevitably there are occasional grim surprises in the storage containers: “In Las Vegas I had a Breaking Bad scene where it turned out to be a meth lab inside. We have also found crime scenes and dead bodies. But mostly what we have found has been boring household stuff.”
But now, on the back of it, Sean Kelly, T-Money and Green Mile can get back to where they started. Their theatre tour sees each of them do a stand-up stint – and then the auction takes over for the final half hour: “The audience are invited to bring along bits and pieces which we auction for Help the Heroes.”
www.atgtickets.com/brighton and 0844 871 7650.