Review: Sean Kelly Live

[First published on Quays News 30/10/15]

STORAGE HUNTERS auctioneer and American comedian, Sean Kelly, hit The Lowry in Salford on the last show of his first ever UK tour. Here’s what I thought of it…kell

Sean Kelly, known for controlling loud obnoxious characters in his hit reality television show Storage Hunters, is rarely able to display his comedic talents on screen, but on stage the spotlight is on him. His material derives from his surprisingly varied life, having been born in America but schooled in Germany, he has then cycled through a whole range of jobs.

Despite the apparent popularity of Storage Hunters, a smattering of empty seats greeted Kelly in the Lowry’s new-fangled theatre. He kicked off the show by talking about his experiences in the UK. Bradford and Blackpool were targeted, so too was the UK’s famously poor customer service, subjects exhausted by comedians these days and therefore it felt unoriginal. In this early part of the show, with the cold audience just filling up half the room, laughter was sparse. However, once he moved into a routine about his German upbringing, his jokes landed successfully and the show picked up.

His attempts at accents and self-deprecation received the most laughs from the audience. The first half centred more around gags as he moved swiftly from subject to subject. However, he ventured into dangerous territory on a couple of occasions with obscene references that needed to be handled more carefully and, as a result, they didn’t sit well with the majority of the audience.

The largest laughs of the night were during Kelly’s interaction with the Salford audience. He picked out his ‘bald brothers’, and chatted to a Papa Bear lookalike (a Storage Hunters character). Frustratingly a member of the audience heckled on a few too many occasions, and although Kelly encouraged it, and his belittling comebacks were effective, it seemed to disrupt the momentum of the show, causing him to lose his way.

Storage Hunters has become a guilty pleasure for regular viewers of daytime television and, expectedly, its fans had been drawn to tonight’s show. Kelly, fully realising the makeup of his audience, dropped in several references to his TV career during the show. He took full advantage of the shared knowledge his audience possessed through a trivia quiz. Never has the knowledge of mind-numbing daytime television been more useful. Asking for politely raised hands, those who correctly answered the questions, which in terms of difficulty were on a par with those asked on University Challenge, were called on stage to claim prizes ranging from an unwanted hunk calendar to an exclusive signed photo. Kelly’s improvisation, along with the willingness of the Lowry audience, created some great laughs.

The show’s finale was, what else, an auction. Admirably raising money for Help for Heroes, members of the audience and Kelly himself had brought along items to sell in his trademark style. A ukulele, some jewellery and a pocket watch were all up for grabs, and with hands flying up everywhere, all items were sold for over £50. The big money was raised with Kelly’s items. Signed shirts went for £100 each and so too did a pair of silly doodles of the Storage Hunters characters.  As the show ended to thunderous applause, Kelly had built up a rapport with his audience. This was strengthened after the show, as fans were able to meet him, get autographs and pose for pictures with him.

Kelly’s stand up offers a thoroughly enjoyable evening. He rolled jokes out at a decent pace, not all of them worked, but those that did forged resounding laughter. The second half of the show was by far the most enjoyable. It felt more natural as he showcased himself as a great improviser and conductor of an audience. Overall, Kelly provided a solid
night of comedy.


Upcoming Gig Reviews

So I’ve done one review on this blog so far, hopefully you checked it out, if not you can do so here. I just wanted to let you know what I’ve got coming up at The Lowry in Salford, so if something interests you then you’ll be able to pop back to check it out.

Andy Hamilton 26th October

After watching him on a whole host of panel shows I’m looking forward to seeing Andy’s stand up. He seems an intelligent chap so I’m expecting his new show, Change Management, to be well thought out. He hasn’t performed stand up for a number of years and might be a little rusty, but he’ll surely know what he’s going into, so I presume he’ll have prepared his show meticulously. His strength is in his comedic writing, having worked on many famous sitcoms, most recently Outnumbered and Ballot Monkeys. His show looks back on all the changes that have occurred to us over the last 60 years. I expect it to be both insightful and funny.


Sean Kelly 29th October

I can’t wait for this. For those who don’t recognise the name, he’s the auctioneer from storage hunters, and if you still don’t know what I’m talking about get watching it on Dave immediately, it’s bound to be on. As it’s his first tour over here, he won’t be as familiar with a UK audience compared to his usual American audience, but this also means we wont be familiar with him, allowing him to serve up his best material amassed over his 16 year career. He was born in Germany (yeah I research) and has held a number of jobs before becoming a comedian, so I expect his material to be varied. Admittedly I struggle to relate to american comedians, despite this I have high hopes for his show.



Stewart Francis 3rd November

One of the few pun maestros on the circuit, his gags are always well thought out and he squeezes his material to create several punchlines from the same set up. His popularity has slowly grown in the last few years and to keep up with demand he’s added extra dates to his Pun Gent tour. You know what you’re going to get good jokes with Stewart Francis and you know it’ll be funny, but I hope he ventures into something a little different.



Dave Gorman 10th NovemberDave_Gorman

One of my favourite comedians at the moment and I’m not his only fan. His show on Dave, Modern Life is Goodish, in which he expertly explores our day to day life, spotting quirks and nonsense that we all fail to notice, has amassed a huge following. His recent stand up shows are accompanied by a powerpoint which, for him, works incredibly well as it illustrates his sometimes quite convoluted routines. My face resembled his picture when I found out I was seeing him.


For each of these shows I’ll be writing a review for my Universities’ website Quays News which will be published the following day. Of course I’ll post it on here as well, adding a bit more detail.

Thanks for coming and please call back soon. If you’d like to share on your way out as well that would be most helpful.