Meet the Man Behind the Mic: TMHQ Q&A with Start Line MC Sean Corvelle

By Matt Alesevich | June 9, 2014


Think back to the last time you were at a race’s start line. Now envision the voice and face of that start line emcee. Can you picture him or her? Didn’t think so.

Now envision yourself at the Tough Mudder start line. A little different? Yea. That’s Sean Corvelle, Mudder Nation’s most motivating Mudder, that just came to mind. And while we all know Sean for his rousing start line speeches, there’s much more to the man behind the mic.

So to help all you Mudders get better acquainted, we sat down with Sean to talk life, obstacles and the power of positive energy.

Here’s how it went down:

 To get started, how on earth does one become the voice and face of Tough Mudder?

Clinton Jackson, Tough Mudder’s other emcee who has been there since 2011, saw a posting for another emcee online and told me to apply. At first I actually passed because I thought it was a stand-up comedy gig. Then Clinton told me how much I would love it and, having known him so long, I trusted his judgement. I emceed Tough Mudder Virginia in 2011, and the rest is history.

While I’m honored and humbled to be called the “voice and face of Tough Mudder,” I honestly feel like Tough Mudder has a lot of voices and faces at TMHQ and out participating at events. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to represent them at the start line. For me, the voice and face of Tough Mudder is [CEO] Will Dean.

How were you paying the bills before you found Tough Mudder?

I was doing stand-up comedy, acting, hosting shows, and doing commercial work on TV in addition to working at a gym. I was basically in Los Angeles doing the whole “worshipping the Hollywood god” routine.

You’re often heard saying that you have the best job in the world—a rather bold statement. What makes working for Tough Mudder THAT awesome?

I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. A lot. They’ve ranged from suck-all awful to incredibly fun. The common denominator of joy in all of them, however, was being able to connect with people. I love connecting with people’s positive energy—it’s a drug for me. I feel like everything I’ve done in life was preparing me for what I’m doing now. Working with Tough Mudder allows me to use all the experience from my previous jobs and allows me to continue to learn and grow. I do something I really love and that feels awesome!

Is there any truth to the rumor that you were on an episode of Friends?

Yes. The episode was called “Holiday Armadillo.” That was one of the most incredibly fun jobs I’ve ever had. I was acting alongside David Schwimmer, and I remember him being a super nice guy and an accommodating actor. He made the scene very comfortable for me. The whole cast was cool. I felt like a session musician that got to sit in with the Beatles on a song.

To those who have never been to an event, describe what the energy is like at the start line?

It’s Super Bowl-meets-World Cup-meets-Apollo Launch. The start line is a place where you begin to feel like you are about to become a part of something bigger than yourself. People range from frightened to confident; anxious to pumped up, but every participant and spectator has a “we’re in this together” mentality.

When Mudders thank you for your energy and inspiration, your usual response is: “No. Thank you.” What do you thank them for?

I thank them for their energy and inspiration because my energy comes from them—all I do is give it back. They’re thanking me because I’m the guy with the mic, but actually, I’m the guy holding the mirror that reflects them and those around them. I thank them for what they bring and what they allow me to experience every weekend.

I witness that awesome side of people that we usually only see when people come together during a disaster.

Both the start line and finish line can be highly emotional places. What are some things you’ve witnessed on course that have restored your faith in humanity?

Wow. I’ve witnessed so many amazing acts of humanity at these events—from the participation of our wounded warriors and military to those running in honor of a charity or loved one—and everything in between. Every event, I witness that awesome side of people that we usually only see when people come together during a disaster. A lot of Mudders have become good friends, and I’m glad to see them exercising that same will and camaraderie in their community.

We heard that in your own time, you fly around the country visiting Mudders that need some encouragement. That’s pretty awesome. What inspires you to do this?

It started with Cassie Harris. I met her at a Tough Mudder event while she was battling cancer. I was moved by her courage and loved the energy of her and her team. We became very good friends, and I visited her the day of her final surgery while I was on my way home from another Tough Mudder.

When you learn about some of our Mudders and the challenges that they are dealing with, you can’t help but get involved. It’s not just personal challenges that make Mudders unique though. It’s also about regular people with amazing energy and a zest for life. For example, one of our Mudder Legionnaires, JP, is a regular guy, a great father and does wonderful, charitable things for the community. I’ve visited him and his family and being around that energy is very inspiring too.

For all the coaches, teachers and politicians out there—what are the keys to a good motivational speech?

Honesty! I believe all that exists, exists in us all, and if we are honest with ourselves, it allows us to connect to whatever we are experiencing at a given moment. If you are honest in your communication, people will connect to your message, even if they don’t agree.

Lastly...can we get a HOORAH?