Have You Watched Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself”? (My Thoughts)

A few months ago, I ran into an old friend from New York. Among the various topics we discussed was a show he attended (prior to the pandemic, I think) that featured a magic trick that continued to completely stump him. That’s saying something, as this friend is really sharp.

Around that same time, another friend recommended a Hulu documentary called Derek DelGaudio: In & Of Itself. I didn’t get around to watching it until a few days ago, and when I did, I realized that it was the same magician my New York friend had seen in person.

DelGaudio worked with Frank Oz to record one full show and snippets of various other shows (I think there were at least 500 of them). The fact that there’s more than one show is quite important to the documentary, as there’s an element of continuity to them that you’ll understand if you watch it.

Overall, it’s mix of storytelling and magic. The most memorable tricks–one involving a letter and the other a choice made by each of the 150 audience members–are both entertaining and deeply moving. Therapeutic, even. I really applaud DelGaudio’s vulnerability.

There’s even one solid trick that is elevated when it extends outside of the theater. I love that sort of thing (like books that lead to real-world treasure hunts). I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’re intrigued by the topic of identity as illuminated by magic (and if you enjoyed Bo Burnham’s special earlier this year), I highly recommend the documentary.

I’d love to openly discuss the movie in the comments, so please don’t read them if you haven’t watched the documentary. If you have, though, what was your favorite part? Any theories on how he pulled off these tricks?

4 thoughts on “Have You Watched Derek DelGaudio’s “In & Of Itself”? (My Thoughts)”

  1. I just watched this about a month ago. It was recommended to me too. I loved it!
    I thought the tone was a bit melancholy, which was unique, but not so much that it was a bummer. It was a good reminder that not everything has to be happy to be positive.

    My only possible guess as to the trick where he named what everybody chose–is sheer memory power. Probably not very creative, but I’m guessing they had cameras recording the words that everyone selected, and somehow he has the ability to rapidly associate those words with faces. It is baffling to me otherwise.

  2. The letter bit broke my mind and then when he named all the cards it broken it even further. Definitely will check out this documentary to relive it.


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