True magic is often anchored to physical locations, growing stronger over time. This truth is evident when magician/comedian Derek Hughes performs at Acme Comedy Co. As a teenager, the St. Paul native begged his parents to chauffeur him to the venue back when it was the Rib Tickler. Now, more than two decades later, he brings his own varied palette of talents to that hallowed basement stage. It was a challenging constellation of events that led Hughes to the practice of illusion. When he was in fifth grade his family relocated, and he had surgery to correct a birth defect in his heart. Magic became his refuge. Later, as a student at the University of Minnesota, he studied theater and continued to apply that training to his work as a comedian. The result of those years of labor is an artist who understands his crafts, and is able to perform with relaxed whimsy. The concept of "illusion" is always ripe for satire, of course, and Hughes will occasionally indulge in the send-up of magician stereotypes. However, as tempting as it may be to poke fun at certain tropes, he maintains an earnest and inspiring commitment to interrupt the laughter with moments of genuine astonishment. And that, simply put, is magical. 18+.
Dec. 13-17, 8 p.m.; Dec. 16-17, 10:30 p.m., 2011