Many people think of Dr Suess or Coca Cola when they think of Christmas. Not me. I don’t have TV, so the only time I watch any is when I go home for the holidays. My parents are from the generation where the TV must always be on. It doesn’t matter if no one is watching it, it just has to be on. My brother and I moan about it all the time, somehow thinking we’re above all that as we stare into a laptop or mobile phone screen instead.
I say all this because without this dose of mass entertainment I would never have encountered Sean Kelly and Storage Hunters. It’s such a strange show, culturally sitting somewhere between Antiques Roadshow and Dale Winton’s Touch The Truck. I imagine I’m the outsider here and you all don’t need an introduction to Storage Hunters so I’ll just say it’s a show where people bid on a storage container and see if its contents are worth more than what they paid for it. Like Bargain Hunt, it’s endlessly watchable although when I learned that it’s broadcast in over 198 countries it did make me wonder whether humanity really does deserve to survive in the long run. Aside from the larger-than-life participants, it’s held together by the motor-mouthed auctioneer Sean Kelly who sells the containers.
In person, Kelly was effortlessly likable and his Fringe show Sold Your Way was less about Storage Hunters and more about Kelly’s life before TV fame hit. We learned about his upbringing in Germany and some twists on German sayings vs British sayings. His stories were entertaining but it was a tough crowd and Kelly was quick to try and inject some energy into the audience. There was a startling moment where he explained how his dad sent him off to school in Germany to ask about World War II that didn’t have the reaction he was expecting. I imagine it might go down better in the US.
When the material didn’t work it, it felt like the consequence of failing to account for its Scottish audience; it was a little generic about “Europeans”, for instance. Then again, it may have just been the audience on the night. The set-up of the venue too, which had rows of little benches in front of us, seemed more appropriate for a formal lecture than a comedy gig.
That being said, Kelly hit his stride in the last third as we moved onto a crowd-pleasing poop jokes section, and boy, did he have a lot of those! I imagine he could probably do an entire show about them (not that I would recommend that). At the very end we got to witness Kelly doing his auctioneer voice which, for a fan of the show, was a real highlight, taking the opportunity to raise money for Help The Heroes by holding a quick fundraiser.
Sean Kelly’s Sold Your Way runs at Underbelly Med Quad until 27th August, 18:55.