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"This is not happening. The cruel slow-motion laughter is just your imagination"
Sue Sylvester, Glee

The inversion of Laughing Mad - a character's humiliation is depicted with a pan around a group of people laughing at them, often in slow motion. May be more or less fancifully depicted, ranging from a simple shot of a bunch of people pointing and laughing, to a Fish Eye Lens low-angle "swallowed up by the floor" shot Whip Panning from Grotesque sneering face to sneering face.

Can occur in Bad Dreams, or can just be an Imagine Spot. Every now and again it might even happen for real.

Can be used in Flash Back to set up They Called Me Mad and/or Who's Laughing Now?.


Comic Books

  • Captain Boomerang experiences a hallucinatory one when Mindboggler unleashes his greatest fear in an early issue of Suicide Squad. He hallucinates that he surrounded by the superheroes who have defeated him the past; all laughing at him.
  • Another hallucinatory example happens with Toa Kopaka in Bionicle comic 14, after he is hit by Kuurahk's Staff of Fear


  • Used in Thunderbird 6 - The Movie. When Brains outlines his idea of building an airship, a roomful of air industry executives laugh at him. The film's DVD Commentary points out that, since all the characters are marionettes, lots of laughing puppet heads had to be constructed even though each of them would only appear in one shot.

  "Sure, they laughed - and then they built it!"

  • In Pocahontas 2: Journey To The New World, this happens to the titular heroine when she attempts to stop a bear-baiting at King James' party.
  • Used in combination with the Scream Discretion Shot with the rape of Lucy Barker in the climax of the "Poor Thing" scene from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  • Carousel: "Shame on you! Shame on you!"
  • Carrie - "They're all gonna laugh at you!"
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure - "There's no basement in the Alamo!" - eveyone laughs at him, and a kid takes his picture.
  • Austin Powers Goldmember - happens twice to Austin as the crowd reacts to his father not being there at a royal award and, in flashback, winning an award at spy academy - and there's a toothless old gardener laughing at him both times.


  • In Warrior Cats, Graystripe has a nightmare that StarClan cats are surrounding him and screaming that it's all his fault that bad things happened to ThunderClan.

Live Action TV

  • Lampshaded on Glee - "This is not happening. The cruel slow-motion laughter is just your imagination"
  • The Vicar in Rev has a Bad Dreams featuring one of these, as all his friends and family point and jeer at him that he'd make a terrible father.


  • In Lady in the Dark, the Circus Dream ends with Charley's voice rising in accusation and the chorus laughing at Liza. As they leave her and the dream fades, they chant, "Make up your mind! Make up your mind!"

Western Animation



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