Though he started as a magician, Derek Hughes is also an adept standup comic. The Twin Cities native has found his greatest success mixing the two. "My first interest was magic," he says. "When I was in fifth grade, my buddy Don had a magic set. I had gotten a chemistry set for Christmas." The two made a trade, and for Hughes a career was born. "That magic kit really captured my attention." A short time after acquiring the kit, Hughes had heart surgery, and was off school for several weeks. After that, the family moved to rural Minnesota. "I was the new kid, living on five acres of land in the middle of nowhere. In junior high, I was the kid that did magic tricks." Eventually, his folks took him to the old Rib Tickler Comedy Club, where the Acme now stands, and that led to an interest in standup. "Magic was always the thing," he says, "but I was funny and a class clown. I had some levity in my performances, but seeing those comics really influenced me." An early influence was Jake Johannsen. "For a while, I straight-up ripped off Jake," he laughs. The two are now good friends, and live just a few streets apart in Southern California. For a while, when he was featuring for another comic, he would do nothing but standup for 20 to 30 minutes. "Just to exercise that muscle. Even though I had a deck of cards in my back pocket, and knew I could kill with it for 30 minutes, it was nice to move sideways and work in that awkward space."
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. Starts: March 11. Continues through March 15, 2014