performing anxiety

So my boss volunteered he and I, at this woman’s request to perform before a circus in the lobby of the arts center. The details aren’t clear, but I get the impression that we are to ride around in the lobby of the arts center and generally be entertaining. I am a pretty private person and pretty much have only ever unicycled for myself. I can’t do any juggling worth mentioning. I don’t even like going to performances of any kind because it feels weird watching people performing for me to watch. In the back of my head it just seems like showing off. Or bothering people. Nevertheless, I plan to try to help. The thing is, I am a very competant muni rider, but am worthless as a performer/ freestyler.

What I am wondering is:

What are these people wanting to see?

How should I interact with them?

What can a person of limited skill (virtually no tricks) do to keep people’s attention?

I really refuse to dress as a clown. What are some reasonable costumes that would allow me to cling to a shread of dignity, or at least won’t show off my junk.

I am tempted to just go in my muni gear and hop up the stairs to the second floor, and jump from bench to bench. When else would I have such an opportunity to do that without getting thrown out?

I also have considered just bringing the giraffe and being exempt from any trickage. Only I am not for sure that there will be the sort of space I would need to safely ride the giraffe. That is how would I keep people from coming right up to me?

Thanks for your help!

Re: performing anxiety

I’d go for these if I had to though I ride for myself and hate performing in front of people. I can do some tricks but I’m no good when I know I’m being watched. I’m sure there are some on here that can give you some good advise but you’re not alone in disliking performing.


Ha ha nice

Hey “Guass”

You ain’t nothin! I mean I am performing in the same lobby on Dec. 1st at 6 p.m.----I can talk to you a bit about it next time we get together to make or shop for our Halloween costumes.


shoot, son! That’s the one I’m speakin of. I guess I’ll be okay, as they will all watch you. I think my best trick is wheel walk into a face plant still stand.
-gAUss (I was wondering if that would be noticed)

Re: performing anxiety

“gauss” <> wrote in message
> What I am wondering is:
> What are these people wanting to see?
> How should I interact with them?
> What can a person of limited skill (virtually no tricks) do to keep
> people’s attention?

A lot of people I meet are curious enough to want to try riding.
It is really funny watching them get on and try to balance. Their
friends are especially amused watching them try. So I would offer
them your ride if they ask enough questions and seem curious
enough. If they seem reluctant, show them how easy it is to hold
on to a rail or pole.

I think it’s really hard to keep peoples’ attention for more than
5 minutes riding a unicycle. That’s about the longest time I’ve
ever interacted with strangers who’ve asked me about my uni.
I can idle and ride backwards but most people don’t seem more
‘entertained’ by those tricks than by me just riding.

performing takes practice too,

unless you’re my freind jim from northern ireland who peed on the blarney stone.(gift of the gab?, curse of the gobshite monster more like.)

remember that you have forgotten what it’s like to see a unicyclist up close when you can’t imagine actually being able to ride one, joe public thinks its amazing just being able to ride one. any tricks are a bonus.

everybody loves suicide mounts
and kick up mounts

if you can ride/idle with one foot extended they’ll love it.

foot on the frame just isn’t as visual but does work as long as you actualy tell people what youre going to do first ( i realised that people do’nt look at your feet when tthey see you, when i was practicing one foot idling
and somebody came up to me and asked if i could do any tricks.
you can scuff your (frame) foot against the tire to make some noize and atract attention.

jump over some stuff, or people, it works, talk about it like its the most dificult thing in the world.
it hasn’t crossed most peoples minds that its possible to jump on a unicycle. so make the most of it.

as for costumes, you can always wear a top hat and tails, for that showbiz look.

also be carefull, spacial awareness is the keyword, know where any potential hazzards are and avoid them.

act like youre fantastic and the crowd will agree.

Re: performing anxiety

Here is my longwinded input…

The most important thing is to have fun!

If you are not an actor/ performer/ clown/ whatever, then do not try to be
one of those things. If you are a Muni rider, or for the complete lay person
a stunt cyclist, then go with that as your starting point.

Building on that starting point will help you achieve something a little
more polished and entertaining that you should feel comfortable doing in
front of people.

> What are these people wanting to see?

By riding stairs and bouncing all over things you will have fun. The cool
thing is that if you are clearly having fun then people will have fun
watching you.

> How should I interact with them?
> What can a person of limited skill (virtually no tricks) do to keep
> people’s attention?

Your interaction can be minimal if you do not feel confident with the idea
of being a ‘performer’. Do you need to interact with the audience or are you
able to just provide a spectacle? I say let the guys on stage keep the
attention of the audience, foyer entertainment is usually just to add colour
and fun.

> I really refuse to dress as a clown.

Good for you… dressing as a clown should be forbidden. Good clowning is an
artform, bad clowning is just bad while dressing as a clown is worse.

Any costuming should grow from what you are and what you are representing,
while fitting in with any themes if necessary. If you are a stunt cyclist
then why not look the part with a helmet, pads and other protective gear.
Going over the top with the protective gear could look funny in a good way.
Costumes and props should be clean and well presented - it could be an
excuse to get some new gear.
Why not set up a bit of a trials course in the foyer that you can play on.
This way it would be roped off and people will not get in the way.

> I also have considered just bringing the giraffe and being exempt from
> any trickage. Only I am not for sure that there will be the sort of
> space I would need to safely ride the giraffe. That is how would I keep
> people from coming right up to me?

People will still come straight up to you if you are riding a giraffe.
Audiences don’t always think, so you have to think extra hard for them.
Riding the giraffe in itself will impress most people.

Whatever you end up doing, remember to have fun.

Wayne van Wijk

Amazing Acts, Terrific Tricks
and Fun Filled Family Entertainment

Thanks, guys! That is all really great advice!

Only limited time to write now, but feel free to contact me direct to talk off list:

If you don’t have a set piece freestyle routine of tricks set to music, then it’s too late to develop[ one for this event. Instead, take some ideas from the following.

I’ve been performing on a semi-improvised basis in front of crowds ranging from 2 or 3 people to several thousand over a period of several years. The uni has been only one small part of my performance. I also juggle 3 balls with virtually no ‘clever’ tricks, I walk a ladder like a pair of stilts, and I do one or two totally fake conjuring tricks.

The first and most important rule is that just because a trick is difficult, or took ages to learn, it does not mean that the audience will appreciate it. Simple example: anyone can juggle 3 bean bags after 1/2 hour’s learning. Juggling 5 balls is about a million times harder. Joe Public sees 5 balls and vaguely assumes it is a little bit harder than 3… about 2/3 harder. The skill level to applause ratio is subject to a savage law of diminishing returns unless you are performing to people who really understand what you’re doing.

Also, if you string all your tricks together one after the other, you probably have 2 minutes, if that. I can mount, ride forwards, idle, ride backwards, idle one footed each side, and hop. Wow! I could do all of that in 30 seconds. The important thing, therefore, is to perform… you are trying to entertain, not simply to ‘display’ or to impress.

If you can idle well, reverse a few strokes, and mount competently, you can get several minutes’ entertainment value out of simply riding in front of the crowd in a slightly wide-eyed manner, ‘almost’ losing control, stopping suddenly, reversing, and so on. Pick a friendly face in the front row of the audience, or a small group if the audience is scattered in an open area, and ride up to them, stop, wobble, idle, back off, wink, and wobble past them. Make eye contact, stare wide-eyed, wink, even stick your tongue out.

if you don’t have ‘the gift of the gab’ then don’t talk - just use exaggerated faces and body language.

Simple tricks like hopping or idling one foot: Don’t do the full ‘Ladies and genn’le men, before your very eyes…’ routine. be alittle conspiratorial. Catch someone’s eye, hold their attention with a raised index finger and raised eyebrows… now idle one footed and point triumphantly at the raised foot. the ask for applause by throwing up and out, and looking pleased with yourself.

And if they don’t applaud, shrug and ride off with downcast body language.

Similar idea with hopping.

Another simple one, especially after a UPD: the step over mount. Take a long time (5-10 seconds) to prepare. Plenty of eye contact but no talking. Do an exaggerated mount and step right over the uni.

Rule of 3: if you’re going to introduce this fake ineptitude into the performance (and it is by far the easiest option at short notice0 use the rule of three. Get it ‘wrong’ once, then get it ‘wrong’ again, to reinforce the impression, then get it right the 3rd time… OR get it wrong in a different way.

Once to set up; once to reinforce; once to surprise.

I 100% and whole heartedly agree with you about clown costumes. Only clowns should wear clown costumes, and then not in public. If it makes you feel more confident, go for extra smart. Bold or simple colours but not fussy patterns. Black T shirt and jeans is as good as anything else - and perhaps a hat or something to top it off. And if you’re nervous, what about shades? Reduces the eye contact, but adds something else.

Think of this objective: at the end of the event, the public should think, ‘Oh and that unicyclist was fun.’ Not: ‘I was impressed by that unicyclist’s technical proficiency.’

Good luck. :0)

Mike Wilkinson

Lots of good advice has been offered, some by actual performers.

Costume: How about a suit? Tux if you have one. This will make you stand out, so you will appear to belong there. Then, if you want to wear all your MUni pads on top of that, it will immediately establish you as someone doing something unusual while still not trying to be a clown.

If you’re not comfortable being in front of people, you may want to avoid any major dialogue. If you have stairs to hop up and obstacles to play with, do those things and the crowd will stop to watch if they’re interested.

But make sure you have a “defensible space” around you at all times! If you’re not real confident with your stair jumping, for instance, don’t share the stairs with pedestrians. One false move and you can not only whack someone in the shins, you can send them sprawling down the stairs. This is called respecting your audience. Plus, as has been mentioned, expect people to step directly into your way, especially if you’re in a crowded space.

Before doing any sort of performing, I always try to find out as much as I can about the performing space. How much will you have? If you will not be cordoned off from the people, you’ll have to be careful in what you do.

Simple tricks sometimes get the biggest payoff. Simply juggling while riding (or idling) is a wow in a lobby-type presentation. Kickup mount, hopping, jumping rope, or whatever you can do that’s visible.

Most importantly, as has been mentioned before, have fun. If you are having fun, it will rub off on the people. If you look scared or embarrassed, that will rub off as well, and they will feel bad for you. So have a good time!


a bunch of good advice!
i’ve picked up lots, thanx!

my two cents from only recently getting into the ‘performing uni’ thang
most of my jobs have been ‘wallpaper’ type jobs where the unicyclist adds colour to an event
i like to think of it as ‘moving lawn furniture’
i’ve twice worked as a faux cocktail waiter, riding around carrying a tray complete with carefully stuck down glasses and beverage cans (empty! they get kinda heavy)
i share your respect for the clown costume and have gone with basic black jeans and t-shirt and a nice waistcoat
a well picked hat adds
john’s tux with pads idea rocks!
since u will be in a mingling situation (by the sound of it), be prepared for all the ‘other wheel’ comments your heart desires
(or doesn’t :wink: )
decide if u are going to use witty replies or go with the mute, shrugging your shoulders ‘who needs it’ kinda reaction
smile anyway

go back and reread mikefule’s post and take notes
practise some of the ideas and start stringing some of the ideas together
u’ll have so much fun doing that, u wont even notice that u’ve worked out a routine
oh, did i give it away?

when is this happening?

My opinions: you say you are into muni, so I’d stick to that. Since you said you were voulenteered to do this, I’d think you can keep it informal. In such a situation, the easiest thing to do might be to just go up, introduce yourself, and just explain that what you do is muni, and not performance. Perhaps something like: “I do this for the exhileration of getting from one spot to the other through riding, hopping, etc. Sometimes I pull it off, sometimes I don’t. So I’m going to just ride as I normally do. If you like what you see, feel free to applaud. If I fall, don’t worry about it - that’s why I wear safety gear.”

An explanation like this can really help. Now the audience doesn’t expect you to have a polished routine. Hopefully they won’t mind when you fail at something, and at the same time, they’ll enjoy what you do succeed at all the more. And telling them to applaud gets them involved and enjoying what’s happening. They also realize that it’s ok to clap – they don’t have to worry about breaking your concentration.

As for the costume, I’d go with the full muni garb. It becomes a costume because it distinguishes you from the crowd.

Well, just a few thoughts there. Oh, and if you do go with the impromptu style I described, I still recommend having a rough plan of what you want to do in your mind. Consider what would make a good finale, and be sure to end with it. In general, unless you have lots of time to plan, I say stick with what you know, don’t try to learn a ton of new tricks just for this show. Don’t forget, just riding forward is quite impressive to most audiences.