Storage Hunter Sean Kelly talks ahead of Wolverhampton show
From Desert Storm to Storage Hunters: Sean Kelly has led an exciting life – and he’s coming to Wolverhampton and Brum to discuss all the juicy details later this month.
Those planning to go to the show are in for a real treat: Sean’s hilarious and he has more stories to tell than you could believe.
He grew up in Germany, running rings around his parents who could only speak English, and his teachers who were able only to speak German.
After this, Sean went on to work for the Army, during which time he formed part of Desert Storm – where he met his wife Lori, an East German codebreaker.
Following a stint in stand-up, the California-born star then took on reality TV show Storage Hunters – where he came across all manner of items locked away in units. From a helicopter, to a dead body, a meth lab and even 22 kilos of cocaine – he’s seen it all. Some units have even threatened his safety; being riddled with booby traps and flash bangs.
“I was born in California in a small town called Redding,” explains Sean.
“We then moved to Germany when I was 10 years old. My father was an insurance salesman and he figured out he could make some money from selling insurance to American GIs.
“But when we got there, it turned out I couldn’t attend an American school because we weren’t there with the support of the US government – and they don’t really want salespeople there either, so they don’t make it easy.
“So, all of a sudden I had to go from fifth grade in an American school, to attending a German school.
“Luckily I had a tutor who would come every day to help me with my homework and my grammar and vocabulary.
“I got away with so much as a kid because my parents didn’t speak German, but I did.
“One of the best parts was parent-teacher conferences, because I was the class clown.
“So we’d go in to see the teacher who would say ‘tell your parents you are not a good student’ – and I’d say I was doing great.
“The teacher had no idea. It was fabulous.”
Looking back on his days in Desert Storm during The Gulf War, Sean says fighting over in Iraq was terrifying – as he was only 20 years old.
“But I made some great friendships out of it and it made me grow up very quickly,” adds Sean.
“There were two main positives to come out of it really.
“One: It made me realise how lucky I am to be alive and the need to follow your dreams, because you’ve only got one shot. It could have all ended on the battlefield right there.
“And, two: It’s great for my comedy; it’s given me some really good material.
“I used to have secret clearance – my wife and I both did.
“The funny thing is, when they give you this clearance, in the interview they never actually ask if you can keep a secret. I’ve got the biggest mouth ever.
“My wife used to break East German codes and I worked as a German translator.”
Sean met his wife when he was 21 and she was 26, working as Joan Rivers’ personal assistant. It was Lori who, with her experience in the comedy industry, suggested he do an open-mic night.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“What I found is I’m a natural performer. My weakness is actually writing the material,” says Sean.
“But getting up on stage and mucking around comes naturally.
“I was always the kid getting into trouble for mucking around at school. I’ll always remember my parents being called into my school when I was in first grade for putting crayons up my nose to make the other kids laugh.
“I was always told I needed to grow up, otherwise I would never achieve anything.
“Even so, I was really late to get into stand-up. I was 29 when I started.”
Comedy led Sean to start US Storage Hunters, which first aired back in June 2011. Despite its success, the show was then cancelled – due, says Sean, to a new president being in place at TruTV.
“When new presidents come in, sometimes they cancel the network’s number one show because they see it as the success of their predecessor,” adds Sean.
“Then they launch their own show. Unfortunately it’s down to politics.
“We were the number one show on TruTV. But he cancelled us and then wanted to replace us with something comedic.
“Irony is, a lot of people thought Storage Hunters was funny.”
After this, Sean took the decision to make a UK version of the show in 2014. Despite Sean’s initial fears, the show then ran for the next two years.
“I had no idea what to expect in terms of success when it came to the UK show. I didn’t even know what the British bidders would be like,” says Sean.
“The UK version had mixed reviews. People who liked the US version say the UK one’s not as good. But if people have liked the UK version from the start, it seems to be different.
“We had a great time working in the UK.
“My wife now works with me because I’m on the road so much, she’s just been travelling with me. She helps me manage things.
“On June 5, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We got married when I was 21. I’m now 47 and she’s 52 - she robbed the cradle.
“Her theory is get them early and raise them right.”
Talking about his time on the show, Sean says he has come across all kinds of lots; one of which even saw a buyer go to jail after he tried to sell 22 kilos of cocaine he had found in a unit.
“I have come across so many crazy things in storage. People collect weird things,” explained Sean.
“Once we discovered a helicopter. Sometime we come across crime scenes too. We’ve even found a dead body and a meth lab in the past, as well as stolen merchandise.
“We had a guy last year who found 22 kilos of cocaine.
“But, instead of taking it to the police, he Googled ‘how to sell 22 kilos of cocaine’. He’s in prison now. That was one of my bidders in California. It happened in April last year.
“The meth lab we found was in Vegas in 2012.
“A lot of the time, people just store normal stuff. But there is a percentage that use storage for crime.
“People also set booby traps sometimes – and it can be dangerous, because you just don’t know what’s in there. Sometimes it’s because there’s valuable stuff in there, other times it’s just survivalists that are crazy.
“Things like alarms and flash bangs are what we tend to see.”
See Sean host Storage Hunters in Birmingham here:
Sean’s not only lived a very interesting life – but has also miraculously cured himself of what could have been a series of very miserable health conditions. And how did he do it? Simply by losing weight and using the right exercises.
“Not long ago, I was told I would have to have back surgery. I had a herniated disc and a hernia. And amazingly, I’ve been able to fix myself without any surgery at all,” says Sean.
“When I got the weight down, the hernia went back in.
“There’s certain exercises you can do too. I do 200 ab crunches per day and 50 push-ups. “I’ve been doing it every day for 18 months.
“Another amazing thing to come out of it is that I went to see my cardiologist and he’s told me when I go back in November I can come off all the medication I was previously on for things like blood pressure.
“You really can cure yourself of all sorts of things, just by changing small things.
“I’m about 40lbs down, and that’s a good weight for me. I feel really healthy.
“I went on the Atkins Diet and I’ve been on that for around 18 months now.
“I have so much more energy. I’ve got rid of all the sugar and caffeine from my diet and stopped the liquor.
“Basically, I’ve removed all the happiness from my life. It’s not easy to do, but once you have it feels great.”
Sean and members of the Storage Hunters team T-Money and Green Mile will be coming to Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall on October 25 and Birmingham’s Town Hall on October 28, bringing with them stories, comedy and a charity auction in aid of Help For Heroes.
“The show is filled with stories about my life. About growing up in Germany, serving in Iraq, the different jobs I’ve had. It’s all very self-deprecating. I also make fun of the Germans,” laughs Sean.