09 Sep High-Stakes Humour — An Interview with Auctioneer Danny Hooper
Auctioneer Danny Hooper has received numerous awards and accolades for his service as an entertainer, philanthropist, and media personality. Sure, he’s a fun guy, but Danny takes his commitment to the causes he raises money for very seriously too. We recently caught up with Hooper to talk country music, the art of auctioneering, and what it means to give back.
Has being an entertainer always been your goal?
I was born to entertain and I was able to identify at a very early age that my special gift was to entertain people. Growing up I was a bit of a runt – always the last one to be picked on a sports team or the first one to get a dodgeball in the face (even when we weren’t playing dodge ball). I learned quickly that making the tough guys laugh saved me from getting beat up. This same humour and wit laid the foundation of my entire career.
What was your first job as an entertainer?
I started recording country music in 1975 and four years later my father and I opened Edmonton’s first exclusive country music nightclub, The Danny Hooper Stockyard. We had big headliners like Tammy Wynett, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price – these were huge country stars in the day. The nightclub went under in 1986, and I went into the real estate business. In 1995 I realized I was tired of the long hours and just wanted to get back to entertaining, so I retired from real estate and focused full time in my entertainment career.
How did you get into the auctioneering business?
I had an uncle who was very successful as an auctioneer and he also did a lot of charitable work throughout his career. In 1987, he invited me to help him out with some auction entertainment and he even let me auction off a couple of items that night. I had never been to an auction and I kind of mumbled my way through it but it was quite the comedy show and I guess I kind of caught the bug that night.
How important is the entertainment aspect of auctioneering? What are your tricks?
I read somewhere that if you spend 10,000 hours doing any one thing you can achieve mastery. And I can tell you, I’ve spent well over 10,000 hours behind a microphone, so I’ve developed kind of a “sixth sense” for reading an audience. I also have a tool kit of techniques and tricks for maximizing the energy in the room. Sometimes it’s as simple as pausing the auction and making a joke. I find a good joke can defuse some of the stress and pressure in the room and gives the bidders a chance to think.
What do you love about this business?
What I love is that no two days are ever the same. I will never retire! I’m as passionate about auctioneering as someone who plays golf. You will never hear a golfer say, “Oh gosh… I have to golf for another year or two.” They do it because they love it!
What juices me is making people laugh. It is such a feel-great feeling. To just bring a little laughter and levity to someone’s day— there is simply nothing better.
I might have a talent but I also continue to work very hard at it. I study and watch comedy everyday, trying to get better and better. What I’m excited about is that I’m not nearly as funny now as I will be in 10 years!
Do you have a specialty?
I specialize in fundraising auctions. We do close to 100 events a year all across North America. As a matter of fact, we just got hired by the NFL to do a big fundraising gala for them in San Diego next March, so we are really starting to branch out and do some interesting work.
The charity side of auctioneering is also as natural for me as entertaining is. I had no interest in being a cattle or auto auctioneer, selling a lot in under a minute, or riffling off items in rapid-fire. I much prefer a room full of people at a charity gala. A lot of those people have never been to, heard of, or participated in an auction, so the process is exciting and new for them. My unique style of slowing down the auction and injecting a little humour helps to engage that kind of crowd and raise a lot of money.
What do you love about working with the Garage Sale team?
I really love working with this company. This will be my 4th Garage Sale auction event, and we’ve had some great successes together. The team is a bunch of straight-shooters and that is the kind of people I like dealing with.
You can catch Danny Hooper in action live on September 22nd, 2016 at the unreserved live auction for Harvest Ridge Luxury Orchard Estate. It is sure to be an exciting and entertaining afternoon (if Danny has anything to do with it!).