psychology of comments

I was wondering which of the comments from the public people found most annoying, and why (just read mike fules detailed psychological analysis of ‘lets see you do a wheelie’ on: -

Here’s mine (in no particular order): -

  1. the classic ‘your back/front wheels missing/stolen’ I don’t like this because it implies my vehicle is ‘lacking’ something. It also strikes me as deeply unimaginative and tedious

  2. ‘fall off’ because it’s just plain nasty

  3. the circus tune (you know the one i mean)- this used to be my no.1 hate cos it sums up the connection that most people make between the unrelated activities of Muni and circus/clowns. however, since downloading the midi of the tune that was posted by sendhair:-

I don’t mind it so much cos it’s such a enthusiastic and over the top little MIDI. I advise anyone who’s driven mad by the song to download this and learn to love it(should also say that MIDI’s sound different depending on your system set/sound card- it sounds great on mine)

  1. car horn pipping. I really try to remind myself that 50% of car pips are actually expressing admiration, but, at the end of the day, pipping is supposed to be a warning of impending danger; pipping at unicyclists is inappropriate and distracting

  2. ‘are you a clown/work at a circus’ usually ok as it tends to come from small children who have been socially conditioned into identifying unicycles with clowns

  3. ‘you’re a ****ing freak’ only got this one once, from a young lady in town; I actually felt a little sorry for her cos it was completely obvious that her life revolved only around the clothes she wore and what her peers thought of her

  4. being shot. not happened yet, but I’m painfully aware that there is an airgun sniper in an area of sheffield near where I live (victim count in the local newspaper=3). I find it impossible to imagine that such an individual, on finding a unicyclist in his/her sites, could resist the temptation.

sorry, should have said that to download the MIDI you need to right click and ‘save as’

Are you a Clown?


  1. a. A buffoon or jester who entertains by jokes, antics, and
    tricks in a circus, play, or other presentation.
    b. One who jokes and plays tricks.
  2. A coarse, rude, vulgar person; a boor.
  3. A peasant; a rustic.

intr.v. clowned, clown·ing, clowns
To behave like a buffoon or jester.
To perform as a buffoon or jester.

[Of Scandinavian origin(akin to Icelandic klunni, clumsy person), or of Low German origin.]

The comment I find the most offensive is being called a clown. I do not mind the entertainer meaning so much, but since I ride my unicycle for transport and fun (not at a circus) I usually assume that the second meaning was intended. Being called a clumsy buffoon makes me feel insulted. A while ago my email was but spammers flooded out the free server and it became a pay site (and someone else got my address). It was not that I hate clowns so much as that I hate being called a clown. I have noticed several factors which affect the type of comments I get. When I ride a cheap skinny chrome unicycle, I mostly get an even mix of positive and negative comments. When I ride a giraffe unicycle there are fewer negative comments and more positive comments. Similarly on my new MUni I get far more positive comments than before. The time I ride also affects the commentary. If I go for a spin through town during the night in the weekend, I get a lot more positive comments because there are heaps of people out drinking. Their judgement is impaired and it heightens their opinion of how difficult Unicycling must be, and it reduces their inhibitions which could have prevented them from saying anything if they were sober. I guess some other factors could affect the nature of comments recieved but I have not compared any of these. Your physical appearance would make a difference. The way you dress. How old you are. The length/style of your hair. Your gender. Your reputation would also play a part. In New Plymouth I am reasonably well known. After riding around for seven years many local people recognise me. A lot of people know me by name and I wouldn’t have a clue who half of them are. When I get unpleasant or unfriendly remarks I keep on riding and ignore them, putting it down to the fact that some people will always be prejudiced against people who are different from them. I am happy that lately I have been hearing a lot of compliments and pleasant observations.

Re: psychology of comments

Almost all comments except the extremely offensive ones could conceivably be made in a clumsy but friendly way, or a hostile way. Assuming hostile intent, the worst of all is, “Show off!”

I can mount my Coker (or other unicycle of choice) and ride for an hour without stepping off, on roads or off road, and am happy if I never meet another person. Then when I do meet someone, they accuse me of showing off.

And what annoying is that the 'Show off!" comment is almost always made by people who are in a gorup, and it is made for the benefit of the audience. That is: the person who accuses ME of showing off is in fact the person who IS showing off.

And what makes it MOST annoying is that this point is like waaaaaay too subtle for them to understand, so it’s not worth pointing it out to them. :roll_eyes:

Also, I hate, “Fall off!” especially if chanted repetitively, because it is so unequivocally destructive, unpleasant and hostile.

The predictable daft comments are just irritating.

I noticed that when I couldn’t ride very well and was on a 20"-er I got loads of stupid comments. When I got the Muni and became more proficient the comments became quite rare.
In the past few weeks I’ve been using safety stuff like helmet, shinpads and wrist guards, and I think the comments may have gone up a little, though it’s difficult to tell cos I’m spending more hours riding as well.
Yesterday I was bombing along a park trail and these mothers with their children were watching quite intently; as I passed one of them shouted ‘give us a show’. The last thing I want to do is strengthen the misconception that I’m anything to do with the circus, so I veered up the grass slope on my left, spun round at the top and came back down at high speed before skidding on to the path and riding off to massive applause from these women and kids.

The thing that gets to me most is when people call a unicyclist a clown and know that it insults them. I very rarely get negative comments but at the 24hr a guy, after me telling him I’m not a clown and that unicycling is actually a sport, told me he could call me whatever he wanted to. It’s okay though…I beat him on that lap.


I get the ‘fall off’ one, but more common for me is the ‘dont fall off’ one…

I also have a guy who works at my campus who I see daily riding to uni who says ’ when are you going to let me fix that bike?’ - and ideas for responses?

1.) When are you going to remember the punchline to that “joke”?
2.) It’s a $3000 titanium frame road bike. I’ll just take the cash, thanks.
3.) You’re going to fix it? You can’t even identify it.
4.) When are you going to let me fix that “new” comment?
5.) Ha ha ha ha. I haven’t heard that one for 15 minutes.
6.) Hey, where’s the other half of your “joke”.
7.) That would sound better if it were clever or original.
8.) That’s so generous. I’m missing the front wheel. It was solid platinum. Let me know when I can have it back.
9.) How would you go about that, mate?
10.) (my favorite) It takes twice the man to ride half the bike.

Or, better yet, ride up to him and talk to him. Maybe he’d like to give it a try or learn something about unicycling.

Sounds like a good option to me. He’s most likely just being friendly. Everyone is really, they just don’t realise what they’re saying.


Re: psychology of comments

I don’t know how many pellet gun snipers you have over there in the UK, but possibly it is the same one you’re talking about.

Musician Bryan Adams was shot by this guy while riding a motorbike (that’s really low!) Hole in his riding leather, but no personal injury