Contest audience etiquette

I recently watched the video I took of the artistic competitions at the 1997
National Unicycle Convention I again got annoyed at the number of times people
stood up or walked in front of me and my camera. People were also talking loudly
during the routines.

The artistic competitors spend many hours preparing their routines. The least
the audience should do is to remain seated and quiet during each routine. People
can move around and talk during the breaks between routines.

Let’s show a little more respect for the artistic competitors and for the people
who want to watch.

What do other people think?

Sincerely, Jock Young

RE: Contest audience etiquette

There are several problems here, but in general the problem is not with the
audience, but rather with the competitors and how the competition is run. The
comments below apply to the age group competition.

  1. Most performances were not compelling enough for the audience to watch. If
    the routines were consistently great like you see in a skating competition on
    TV, the audience would pay utmost attention to them.

  2. Most competitors don’t acknowledge that they even have an audience. They are
    too busy looking at their unicycles or the floor. I tried to take pictures of
    every artistic performance. There is a big correlation between the number of
    good photo ops and the eventual placing in the competition. I had to settle
    for a lot of really poor pictures for many of the competitors.

3, The audience cannot anticipate which competitors will do a good job and
automatically assumes the current routine will be as boring as the last. Thus a
person with a good performance won’t get noticed and command the audiences
attention until well into the routine.

  1. John Foss made what I thought was a really good observation at the end of the
    competition. He basically said that we would be better off not working on new
    skills for a year and just work on presentation. The Twin City Unicycle Club
    does a lot of parades. One of the parents noted to me that I get more
    audience response riding one footed than another rider gets doing standup
    wheel walk. Why? It’s all in the presentation.

  2. The sound quality of some routines was awful to the point of being
    irritating. Fourth generation boom box created tapes just don’t cut it.
    >----------
    >From: Jock Young[SMTP:youngwis@eburg.com] Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 1997
    >5:51 PM To: unicycling@winternet.com Subject: Contest audience etiquette
    >
    >I recently watched the video I took of the artistic competitions at the 1997
    >National Unicycle Convention I again got annoyed at the number of times people
    >stood up or walked in front of me and my camera. People were also talking
    >loudly during the routines.
    >
    >The artistic competitors spend many hours preparing their routines. The least
    >the audience should do is to remain seated and quiet during each routine.
    >People can move around and talk during the breaks between routines.
    >
    >Let’s show a little more respect for the artistic competitors and for the
    >people who want to watch.
    >
    >What do other people think?
    >
    >Sincerely, Jock Young

Re: Contest audience etiquette

Jock Young wrote:
>I recently watched the video I took of the artistic competitions at the 1997
>National Unicycle Convention I again got annoyed at the number of times people
>stood up or walked in front of me and my camera. People were also talking
>loudly during the routines.
>
>What do other people think?

And Bill Gilbertson had some good replies. I’d like to add on. Bill wrote:

>1. Most performances were not compelling enough for the audience to watch.

Yes, it’s amateur competition, and it goes on for very long stretches of time.
Also, the gyms tend to be filled with echoes, and are often one of the few
places for people to hang out. It would be nice to have a separate place for
play and noise, separate from the room holding the competitions.

>2. Most competitors don’t acknowledge that they even have an audience. They are
> too busy looking at their unicycles or the floor.

This is true as well. In a Freestyle performance, half of your score is based on
your performance. This means you’re supposed to be an entertainer. A performer
who doesn’t look at the audience makes it very easy for the audience to lose
interest and start fidgeting or walking around.

>3, The audience cannot anticipate which competitors will do a good job and
>automatically assumes the current routine will be as boring as the last. Thus a
>person with a good performance won’t get noticed and command the audiences
>attention until well into the routine.

Somewhat true also. For this reason, it especially would be nice if the
performers had a little bit better environment in which to show off. Other than
that, I tend to pay close attention to the Jr. Expert and Expert performers
mostly. They are not guaranteed to be outstanding, but you know they are serious
about things if they enter those categories.

>4. John Foss made what I thought was a really good observation at the end of
> the competition. He basically said that we would be better off not working
> on new skills for a year and just work on presentation. The Twin City
> Unicycle Club does a lot of parades. One of the parents noted to me that I
> get more audience response riding one footed than another rider gets doing
> standup wheel walk. Why? It’s all in the presentation.

The above applies mostly to TCUC riders (with their very high skill levels), but
other Freestyle competitors can benefit from it as well. I learned early in the
Redford club that the guy who gets the most applause in the parade is not the
one doing tricks, or balancing in place, but the guy jumping rope, even though
he uses a strap to help out. The audience has little ability to distinguish
what’s hard, but they do know what they like. Of course for a set of judges at a
NUC, your priorities are going to be different.

>5. The sound quality of some routines was awful to the point of being
> irritating. Fourth generation boom box created tapes just don’t cut it.

Again true. But a bigger problem is with the horrible acoustics of most
gymnasiums. Not only are they bad for sound, but we usually end up using the
loudspeakers built into the ceiling. These are speakers like the ones seen on
MAS*H and are designed for voices, not music.

A solution to this would be to move things to a theatrical environment. I hope
we are able to do this more and more in the future, as we will try to with the
Experts at the '98 NUC.

To sum up, the best way to rivet the audience for your Freestyle performance is
to figure out what you can do to get, and hold their attention. It just might
help you win!

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone unifoss@calweb.com http://www.calweb.com/~unifoss/

“Never two tired”