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Don't be intimidated, Squidward! Try to imagine him in his underwear!...Oh no, HE'S HOT!!
Squidward, SpongeBob SquarePants

Bob, a shy and retiring man, needs to deliver a Big Speech to a Large Audience of Important People. Hilarity Ensues during rehearsals, until someone suggests that he imagine that the audience is au naturale.

Basically a Stock Phrase, "If you're nervous, imagine the audience naked." A common variation of this is "Imagine the audience in their underwear." This trope is usually played with. Sometimes the viewers at home are shown what the character sees, usually in the underwear variety unless there's some handy scenery - sometimes they will wish they couldn't. Sometimes, there really will be someone naked or in their underwear.

This is definitely not Truth in Television; if this isn't a Discredited Trope yet, it should be. The notion that such a visualization can ease the nerves that come with public speaking is nonsense, as explained in this editorial. In fact, assuming a speaker is actually capable of vividly calling forth this image under the stressful circumstances of speech delivery, this blog post does a good job of explaining why it might backfire, especially if you happen to be a young male student with attractive women in the audience. Most textbooks on the subject give advice that revolves around keeping the speaker focused on the actual content of the speech and successful delivery, not something that would be pointlessly distracting.

Subtrope of Naked People Are Funny.

Examples of Imagine the Audience Naked include:


Anime and Manga

Literature

  • The stand-up comic main character in Louis Sachar's Dogs Don't Tell Jokes uses this in one of his jokes.
  • In Unseen Academicals, it's noted that very few people can stand up to Mrs Whitlow, UU's terrifying housekeeper, and it is not advisable to try and imagine her naked.

Live Action TV

  • Gilmore Girls: Richard advises against this, he had a Squick when doing this with a audience of Bulgarians.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, Kochanski encourages Kryten to stand up to people by imagining them on the toilet. When it actually comes down do it though, he can't manage it. So he forces them, at gunpoint, to go sit on the toilet so that he can laugh and them and have the courage to say that 'No, he does not want to be reset to factory settings'. For some unaccountable reason they decide to do it anyway.
  • On Friends, Phoebe is uncomfortable with singing to children. She suggests this strategy, but is cautioned against it, 'cause "that's sort of how the last guy was fired."
  • Used hilariously in one episode of Big Wolf on Campus. Of course, Tommy gets it wrong and thinks you're supposed to imagine yourself naked.

 Tommy: All you got to do is picture yourself...naked.

Lori: Tommy, you're supposed to picture the audience naked.

  • Carla's trick on Cheers is to imagine the audience naked, but wearing black socks.
  • Dorothy gives Rose this advice on The Golden Girls, but Rose and Blanche crack up at the thought of Dorothy naked.
  • In Coupling, Patrick's advice to Jeff that he imagine his bosses naked during a big presentation almost works; Trying it out the day before, Jeff sees a big boost in confidence, but at the presentation accidentally visualises himself naked in the full length body mirror behind the desk his bosses are sitting at.
    • In fact, he practices this technique so much in preparation that it becomes an instinctive habit. Good fun when hanging around attractive ladies, not so much when attending a funeral with elderly relatives.

 Jeff: I can't turn off the naked people!

  • The Office episode "Fun Run": Pam walks in on Michael, who is using his office to change. She later comments on how picturing an audience naked is a bad idea and instead you should imagine them wearing funny winter coats.
  • On The Brady Bunch, Marcia imagines her driving tester in his underwear. Earlier in the episode, Jan is given the same advice before her debate.
  • On Saturday Night Live, guest host Pam Anderson did an opening monologue where she said (paraphrased): "I'm really neverous. They say when you're nervous you're supposed to imagine the audience naked...that's not working. Maybe you're supposed to imagine yourself naked...no, that's not working, either. Oh wait, maybe you're supposed to really be naked! (takes off clothes) Oh yes, that's much better, I'm more relaxed now." (Full transcript here)
    • SNL did this trope again on the season 36 episode hosted by Jon Hamm with musical guest Rihanna. In the Digital Short, "Ronnie and Clyde" (a Bonnie and Clyde parody-cum-music video with Rihanna as Clyde and Shy Ronnie [a redheaded, mumbling nerd played by Andy Samberg]), Clyde urges Ronnie to be more assertive by imagining the hostages naked. It only succeeded in giving Ronnie a Raging Stiffie.
  • A similar case is in an episode of Salute Your Shorts where the group is putting on a play. Dina has bad stage fright, and Sponge advises her to picture a giant chicken at the back of the audience. On the day of the play, she begins to choke...then sees a chicken in the back of the room. Turns out it's Sponge in a costume; the trick works and the play goes as well as any play with Donkey Lips as a rapping mouse could go.
  • In an episode of the Dinosaurs TV show, Charlene was nervous about a musical act for soldiers. "Two thousand teenage boys in their underwear?? See you on stage, daddy!"
  • In The Zack Files, Zack is told to imagine himself in his underwear (his friend getting the advice wrong), which causes his pants, and any subsequent pants he tries to put on to disappear until he can confront his fear of not only giving a speech, but doing it in his underwear, too.
  • In the spelling bee episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide Ned gives this advice to Cookie, and at the end of the episode, the entire audience inexplicably becomes all-male and actually strip to their underwear to help Cookie win the bee.
  • In an episode of Home Improvement, Brad was about to appear on Tool Time and was suffering from stage fright. Heidi, who was played by Debbie Dunning, advised him to picture everyone in their underwear. It doesn't help. Tim goes the extra mile and says to picture everyone naked, and that helps even less.
    • There was also the episode "Look Who's Not Talking" when Jill was nervous about giving a speech and Tim tried to give her this advice, but she wasn't in the mood for it:

 Tim: The first time I did Tool Time, I was petrified, so I tried to picture the audience as just one person.

Jill: The first time you did Tool Time, there was just one person.

Tim: That's not the point. So I tried to visualize that person in his underwear.

Jill: He was in his underwear.

Tim: He was not!

  • In one of the JAG episodes introducing the NCIS characters, Abby is advised by Major McBurney (who's prosecuting a murder case in which Harm is the accused) that she'll have to testify in court, and she mentions how nervous she gets having to testify "in front of all those military uniforms."

 McBurney: Some advice? Try an old standard. Picture all those uniforms naked.

Abby: Including you?

 Cordelia: I, I can't go out there. All those people staring at me and judging me like I'm some kind of... Buffy! What if I mess up?

Giles: Cordelia, there, uh, there-there's, uh, uh, an adage, uh, that, uh, if you're feeling nervous then, uh, you should imagine the entire audience are in their underwear.

Cordelia: Eww! Even Mrs. Franklin? Uhhh!

Giles: Perhaps not.

Cordelia: Yeah.

    • Anya ends up Comically Missing the Point when she suggests that Buffy deal with anxiety on her first day of work by imagining herself naked.
  • Angel. Kate Lockley is nervous about giving a speech for her father's retirement party. Angel suggests she try "that old saw about imagining people in their underwear". Kate's eyes flick downward to check out Angel's body and she mutters "Way ahead of you."
    • And in "Parting Gifts"

 Barney: “I’m sensing a little performance anxiety here. Little trick, picture everybody__”

Cordelia: “In their underwear.”

Barney: “I was going to say dead, but hey, if that underwear thing works for you...”

  • Kyle tells this to Synclaire in an episode of Living Single but since Synclaire will be naked in her performance he adds, "However, in this case, perhaps you should imagine yourself in your underwear" and dissolves into laughter.
  • In the fourth season of The Shield, Glenn Close's character Captain Monica Rawling is nervous delivering a speech to the other police. Vic tells her that normally you're supposed to imagine the audience naked but "with this audience, I wouldn't recommend it."
  • Glee's Lauren Zizes wants to perform a number for the club in "Comeback", but is nervous. Puck tells her to imagine the audience in their underwear. Hilarity, naturally, ensues. Everything's fine, until the camera hits Sue. As a tip, don't drink anything while viewing this scene.
  • Married... with Children: Marcy does this to get over her fear of public speaking. For some reason it turns her on immensely, a feeling she transmits to her appreciative audiences.
  • Thelma tries this in an episode of Amen. It backfires and makes her even more nervous and uncomfortable.

Newspaper Comics

  • Roger gives Paige this advice in a FoxTrot strip. It doesn't work, as her reaction is, "Wowza! It's just like a Chippendale show!"
  • Dilbert is given this advice by Dogbert, before giving a speech to a group of engineers. It backfires when he apparently needs Brain Bleach after what his imagination shows him.

 Dogbert: Whoa! Cancel that. I just pictured four hundred naked engineers.

Dilbert: Too late.

    • Subverted in another strip. "Imagine that you're naked and the audience is full of Mary Kay salespeople with camcorders"
  • In Cul De Sac. Petey is nervous about an upcoming oboe recital - his mom gives him this advice and he looks horrified. She sighs "Okay, okay! Stop imagining!" He wails "I CAN'T!"

Theatre

  • In Bat Boy the Musical, Meredith reassures Shelley about taking Bat Boy to the tent revival, telling her to "just imagine (the townsfolk) in their underwear".
  • In the musical When Midnight Strikes, waitress/resting actress Josephina advises nervous party guest Edward to do this. After a few seconds silence as he can't stop staring at her, she storms off with a disgusted 'Dude, not me!'

Video Games

Web Original

Web Comics

  • In the webcomic Nip and Tuck, shy porcupine Zelda is uncomfortable with interviewing her childhood crush Nip. Charlotte says, in jest, this trope. Then Nip swam across the pool. The last three strips show Zelda grinning and blushing more and more, but not without escaping the notice of Charlotte.
  • In the webcomic Brat Halla, Hod's stage fright causes his powers to go awry. One guy has everybody present strip to the underwear, until he's reminded that Hod is blind.
  • Notfunny Cartoons has a really, really weird subversion - a man comes to a job interview, only to find out that the interviewers are actually naked so he can't imagine they were, just to spite him. (His comment? "Aww.") It has to be seen to be believed (although it's only available in German right now).
  • Two Kinds gives us this.
  • The same in Freefall, only with underwear.
  • In Think Before You Think, Julia imagines the audience in their underwear and it doesn't work, so she tries different methods. She ends up picturing the audience in baby clothes, only to find that her imagination has gone a bit too far and re-dressed herself as well. [1]

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Homer Defined", Homer becomes a hero after accidentally saving the power plant. When he's invited to give a speech about how he did it, he imagines the audience in their underwear, then shrieks and hides behind the podium because he imagined himself in his underwear, too.
    • Used again in The Simpsons. Homer is hired by Mr. Burns to help him write an important speech. Due to the fact that at the time he was hired, Homer had been using medical marijuana and found everything funny. Since he was clean now, and no longer found Burns funny, Marge suggests Homer picture Mr. Burns naked, resulting in him screaming. Trying to make the situation better, she then changes it to picturing him in a funny hat. This idea is worse, causing Homer to curl up in a ball shuddering.
  • Happens in an episode of The Replacements with the twist that one of the audience [Shelton] actually is sitting there in his underwear.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squilliam Returns": In an attempt to stand up to his rival Squidward tries to imagine Squilliam in his underwear, only to discover that Squilliam is really, really buff.

 Squidward: Oh no, he's hot!

    • In the episode "Oral Report", Sandy gives SpongeBob special goggles that let him see people in their underwear so he can get over his fear of speaking in public. Unfortunately, Patrick breaks them, which makes it seem as if the underwear come to life and heckle SpongeBob.
  • At one point in Rocko's Modern Life the turtle, Filbert, can't realize his dreams of becoming a lounge singer because of stage fright. He's given this advice. It doesen't work. ("It's just too disgusting!" "Euw, you're right...") Until he's asked to perform at a club hosting a nudists' convention...
  • Sam does this on an episode of Rocket Power. Nervous about asking some classmates for a favor, he says to himself "picture the audience in their underwear." Unfortunately, he does it backwards, picturing himself standing in front of them in his underwear. It works anyway, as he says to himself, "Close enough."
  • When Stan on American Dad revealed he had never killed anyone his colleagues, and Roger, decided to help him, setting up several scenarios for him to pop his killing cherry, as they termed it. One had this advice.

 Ray: If you start to get nervous, imagine them naked. You start to get really nervous, make them get naked. Still nervous? You get naked; you can do whatever you want, you're killing these people!

  • Apparently the oldest daughter in Bob's Burgers is so awkward and nervous when talking in public because she's always picturing everyone naked, at all times (Or she is just a pervert). Her brother advised her to imagine audience with clothes.
  • Mordecai and Rigby try this on Pops to get him to get over his speaking nerves. Pops shows great discomfort at picturing Mordecai and Rigby naked... despite the fact that they both always are.

Other

  • There are nudist jokes/strips that revolve around inverting this trope.
  • If you are nervous about editing TV Tropes, just imagine that all the tropers who will read what you write are naked. Heck - if they're at home on the computer, they could well be!
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