Will Ringling Bros. Closing hurt the sport of Unicycling

The only reason I ask, they had 10 million people see the show last year.

I don’t know how many people go buy a unicycle after seeing someone ride one at the circus, but with that many people seeing the show you know some did.

What do you guys think?

That’s not the only circus. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. How many people here were inspired to learn to ride a unicycle because they saw one in the circus?

As the sport is now, I’d be surprised if it made any significant difference. I’m in the wrong country anyway, so wouldn’t have seen that circus, but I can’t remember ever seeing unicycling in a circus when I went a long time ago. I’m sure circuses had no influence at all on my interest (seeing them used elsewhere by performers might have, but you don’t have to go to the circus to see that).


I don’t think the circus closing will affect unicycling one bit. I went to see Barnum and Bailey circus with the whole family a couple years ago. wanted my youngsters to see talented unicyclist. Saw one, for a very brief few minutes.

Shutting down Piccadilly Circus is probably worse.
As I think modest shows of street performers contribute more to unicycling as a sport than circus performers in a huge North-American style circus production would.

This is one response I saw two steps away from me: http://www.bedlamfarm.com/2017/01/16/the-death-of-the-circus-an-american-tragedy-losing-our-jobs-our-homes-our-lives/

I don’t think the circus has that big of an impact on interest in unicycling. If, however, this is an indicator of our economy, like wages continuing to go down and prices continuing to go up, less confidence in the market, etc., less people will be able to afford a unicycle and related gear, and that could certainly hurt things.

It’s sad that the King Charles Troupe will no longer have this venue to showcase for their talents. I wish them well, and hope they are able to continue!

No, it won’t hurt unicycling as a sport. The association with circuses is as much a deterrent as an encouragement.

What is more likely to get people into the sport is the sight of young people who look like BMXers or mountain bikers but are doing it on one wheel: they look familiar but are going one stage further.

That said, I got my first unicycle shortly after speaking to a professional performer who had just done a high wire act on a unicycle.

How many people bought an elephant after they saw one in the circus?

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Where owning a unicycle indicates a level of passion, you -opposite- don’t need to buy an elephant to be involved with her or his care.

So, these comparison never really work;
if you compare two total different things they will be… different, and when you compare equal things they will be the same.

Besides that the question was about the sport.
If you wish to find the answer you have to search among the sport riders.

Most circuses don’t have unicycles in them. Aside from the King Charles Troupe, I think I only ever saw one other unicyclist at a Ringling show, though I haven’t seen a huge amount of them. And that one wasn’t an act; rather a clown making a round of the track with a group of other clowns.

King Charles traveled with one of the Ringling units, which meant you would see it every other year, if you went every year. Not counting when they were with the Gold unit, which I think was an international traveling show.

Surely some people have been inspired by seeing whatever unicyclists were in those shows. But now, and probably one of the reasons for the shows’ demise, anyone can type search terms into Google or YouTube and see way more unicycling, in a much greater variety, than you ever would by going to a few live shows per year.

The closing of the RBBB circuses marks the end of an era. But at the same time, it’s the beginning of a new life for a lot of the people who called RBBB home. For those that loved the circus, the 7-day work week for very low pay was not a big deal. But I hope many of those people will find new and better ways to share their art going forward.

I wonder what’s the status of the other old-school, 3-ring (or more) circuses in America, like Carson and Barnes, Vargas, etc? The Shriner shows and others in that category. Are they surviving? I haven’t looked them up…


Very well said.

Unicycles. In Circus

That clown was probably my sister, from 1980 to the early 2000’s, just part of the act !

Thanks for the comments. When I first got back into riding I thought the circus and other unicycling acts had a larger influence on the sport of unicycling. But not anymore because like John said, you can search youtube and find a million videos on the sport.

By the way, when I did the Brooklyn bridge ride I met a guy from the King Charles Troupe. Very nice guy. I wish him well.

I read about the first half of that. Please note that someone who works/lives in a circus (as a musician) is unlikely to be an expert on elephants outside of circuses, and also on what constitutes abuse. All you human circus employees? You chose to work there, under those conditions, for however long, probably as at-will employment, and for a paycheck. The elephants didn’t get asked. Even if they were born into that life, it doesn’t mean that is a good life for an elephant. I believe it is not.

Also the author implied that people have been “working with elephants for thousands of years”. While that may be possible, the concept of elephants in circuses is scarcely 200 years old, when elephants were displayed (before the circus as we know it existed) before there was any performing.

It’s possible, though I think the one I’m thinking of was a dude. She could have been in the other show.

I am reminded of one of the earlier Cirque du Soleil shows I saw, that had a tightwire act that had two wires that were perpendicular to each other; one a little lower than the other. It was an interesting act on its own, but when I got invited to go backstage after the show, I saw a unicycle that was part of that act, though it didn’t get used that night. :frowning:

It’s pretty rare to see someone ride a unicycle on a wire and not use a balance pole or other type of aid, though it happens:

Ringling is back in business.
In this years show, there are two unicyclists: Wesley Williams and Mimo Seedler, the current Street world champion. As Mimo is from Saxony (one of the 16 states of Germany), I wrote an article on my website on unicycling in Saxony. Does anybody know Wesley Williams?
Let’s hope, that it will motivate many people to try unicycling after seeing the show.



Interesting! A name with too much potential for money-making to stay dead. Found this article:

“The longstanding Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is back, but with a major change — no animals in the show. Feld Entertainment’s new touring act, The Greatest Show on Earth, marks Ringling’s return to traveling shows after six years.” – from the Detroit Free Press, 2 months ago

Feld Entertainment is the same company that ran the previous versions. It’s “new circus” (which isn’t new), potentially, without the use of animals, like most “newer” circus companies. And with unicyclists, as it should be! :slight_smile:

Will there be clowns on unicycles?

Are unicyclists the new animals? or the new clowns?

Someone once said, “Hey look, a UNICORN” as I rode past, so perhaps we have evolved into mythical creatures, rather simple zoo animals now.

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