Brow Beat

Here Are All the Celebrity Cameos in Derek DelGaudio’s In & of Itself

Derek DelGaudio, standing on a stage.
Ok, that’s Derek DelGaudio, but from here on out it gets harder. Hulu

Since COVID killed off live performance for the foreseeable future, we’ve all been missing out on two very important cultural experiences: attending the theater, a form of entertainment that has been a central part of Western culture for millennia, and spotting celebrities in the crowd, which is even older. Fortunately, In & of Itself, Hulu’s production of Derek DelGaudio’s Geffen Playhouse / Off-Broadway show, offers viewers plenty of both. Directed by Frank Oz, the film version uses footage from several of DelGaudio’s New York performances, giving avid celebrity spotters more chances than usual to spot a famous person doing something normal (or at least something normal among New Yorkers with a certain amount of disposable income).

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In & of Itself uses the tools of professional magic to explore questions of identity. Entering the theater, each audience member chooses a card with a personal or professional identity written on it (e.g., “I AM A WRITER,” or “I AM A UNICORN”), from a wall of about 1,000 different options. For his grand finale, DelGaudio does a mentalist-style trick where he greets each person in the audience with the identity they chose. One of the show’s themes is that that slapping that kind of label on people is inherently limiting, so putting together a collection of images of people who attended the show, then labeling them with their names and a brief description of who they are and, when possible, the identity card they chose, is not at all in the spirit of the thing. We’re going to do it anyway.

Marina Abramović

Maria Abramovic at In and of Itself, obscured by the back of a man standing in front of her.
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Performance artist Marina Abramović knows more than most about engaging directly with your audience, so DelGaudio’s technique was probably right up her alley. It’s unclear what card she picked, because instead of addressing her by the identity she’d chosen, DelGaudio whispered something in her ear, Lost in Translation-style.

W. Kamau Bell, Gavin Grimm, and Susan Sarandon

A theater audience. W. Kamau Bell and Gavin Grimm are seated towards the front; Susan Sarandon is visible in the back.
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This shot of the audience has at least three famous faces in it: comedian W. Kamau Bell, transgender activist Gavin Grimm, and actress Susan Sarandon.

Tituss Burgess, Gavin Grimm

A theatrical audience. Tituss Burgess is a few rows behind Gavin Grimm.
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You can’t see actor Tituss Burgess in the shot where Gavin Grimm, W. Kamau Bell, and Susan Sarandon are visible, nor can you see W. Kamau Bell or Susan Sarandon in the shot with Tituss Burgess and Gavin Grimm. Nevertheless, all four people were at the same show.

David Blaine

David Blaine, in a baseball hat, standing in a theatrical audience.
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Magician David Blaine attended the show, and either he chose a card reading “I am a magician” or DelGaudio recognized him, because he greets him as “my brother.”

Paige Davis, Brian Henson, Patrick Page, and Kate McKinnon

A theatrical audience, viewed from the stage. Kate McKinnon and other celebrities are visible in the crowd.
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Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon is visible just over DelGaudio’s right shoulder. Also in this shot, as Stephen Boatright pointed out on Twitter, are puppeteer Brian Henson, his wife, actress Mia Sara, Trading Spaces host Paige Davis, and Davis’ husband, actor Patrick Page.

Ronan Farrow and Jon Lovett

Ronan Farrow and Jon Lovett, sitting in a theater audience. Lovett is smiling widely.
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Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow and podcaster Jon Lovett are briefly visible in the crowd.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, at the theater.
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You probably already know who Bill Gates is. He chose the “Leader” card from DelGaudio’s wall of identities.

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn, standing in a theatrical audience.
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Project Runway host Tim Gunn chose the “Good Samaritan” card from DelGaudio’s wall of identities.

DeRay Mckesson

DeRay Mckesson, in a blue vest.
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Activist DeRay Mckesson attended the show in his signature vest. He chose the “Visionary” identity card.

Adepero Oduye

Adepero Oduye, stands in a theater audience, smiling at another person in the foreground.
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Pariah star Adepero Oduye appears in the crowd shortly after Tim Gunn. The framing of the shot makes it difficult to be sure who DelGaudio is addressing, but it seems like she chose the “Alchemist” identity card.

Emma Sulkowicz

Emma Sulkowicz hands a large book to Derek DelGaudio.
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Performance artist and activist Emma Sulkowicz, famous for Carry That Weight, a piece in which she carried a mattress with her everywhere on campus to protest Columbia’s handling of a rape allegation she had made, was one of the audience members chosen to keep the show’s logbook between performances.

David Wain

David Wain, stands and applauds as Derek DelGaudio embraces his mom.
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Wet Hot American Summer director and State alum David Wain got a little misty-eyed at the moment in the show when DelGaudio embraced his mom.

Larry Wilmore

Larry Wilmore, standing against a black background in a theater.
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Comedian and talk show host Larry Wilmore appears during In & of Itself’s final act. He picked the “Oracle” card.

Alicia Witt

Alicia Witt, standing in a theater audience.
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Actress, musician, and Twin Peaks pianist Alicia Witt appears in the show’s final act. She chose the “Mystic” card.

Those are all the celebrities Slate’s staff could pick out of the crowd. Who’d we miss?

Update, Feb. 3, 2021: Updated to add a few people spotted by Slate commenters. Thank you, Slate commenters!

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