Last night my wife and I saw “In and of Itself”, Derek DelGaudio’s one man show in NYC. It was an amazing show, quite entertaining and well staged. It’s a tough show to describe, a blend of storytelling, magic, and existential commentary that runs about 75 minutes (no intermission).
Two of the magical moments involved audience members, and both were very impressive. What follows is definitely SPOILERS so you have been warned.
DelGaudio does a trick where he pulls a card and “randomly” calls on an audience member. He then pulls about ten envelopes from a shelf and asks the audience member to choose one of the envelopes. The audience member opens the envelope and reads the letter inside. Amazingly, it’s a personal hand-written letter to that audience member from an old friend. The audience member on our night did not react as emotionally as DelGaudio expected, and I was also surprised she was so calm about the amazing trick.
So here’s my theory about how the trick is done. Weeks before each performance the show’s producers research audience members that are attending (they have the purchaser information). They locate a friend or relative via social media, and ask that friend or relative to write a letter. Alternatively, based on some online comments it’s possible that the producers give free tickets to people who then gift those tickets to someone who is then “targeted” for the letter.
They make enough copies of the letter so they can put the same letter in each envelope, and on the night of the show DelGaudio just calls their name as the “random” audience member.
Note that he doesn’t actually call their name, he calls the description from the “I Am” card that the audience member chose. That leads to the big trick near the end where DelGaudio accurately names the card chosen by each audience member (or at least those that stand up). That trick is accomplished (IMHO) by the staff tracking each audience member as they enter the theater and the cards are collected. DelGaudio probably is wearing a discrete audio earpiece and someone backstage is directing him and providing the card name for each audience member. This is similar to what a “psychic” like John Edwards would do when conducting a session with a crowd and using the “hot reading” technique.
These are just my theories about how those two tricks may have been done. I am certainly not detracting from the trick, the integration into the story, execution, and production value is amazing. Have you seen the show and if so how do you think the tricks were done?