Magician entertains students with humor, magic in Forum Hall

Evert Nelson | Collegian

Forum Hall filled quickly on Friday as students filed in to see Derek Hughes, comedian and magician. UPC After Hours concluded its semester kickoff Winter Week of Welcome activities on Friday with a magic show for students to enjoy after the first week of classes.

Hughes has appeared on the TV show “CSI: NY” and in the movie “Mr. Deeds” starring Adam Sandler. He also appeared on reality show “Celebracadabra” in which he helped teach celebrities professional magic tricks. The show only ran for one year in 2008 on VH1.

Hughes now spends his time putting on comedic magic shows around the U.S. Hughes attemped many tricks while cracking jokes that had the audience laughing on the edge of their seats. He also incorporated a few members of the audience into his show to help him with his magic tricks.

“At first I was really nervous, but it was really fun,” said Jessica Symons, senior in architecture, who was chosen to be a volunteer for one of Hughes’ tricks.

Symons ended up taking home a souvenir from the show: the playing card she chose during Hughes’ trick in which he pulled the card out of his mouth.

“I might put it on my wall,” Symons said.

The night was filled with humor and mind-twisting magic tricks, but Hughes also told the audience the story of how he got involved with magic.

“I had been given a chemistry set when I was 10, and I wasn’t into it,” Hughes said. “But my buddy had a magic set sitting in the dust, so I decided to trade him. As chance would have it, I was born with a birth defect in my heart and therefore in fifth grade, I had to get surgery to fix it, which forced me out of school for half a year. And in that solitude, I turned my attention to that magic kit, and it really captured my imagination.”

With his sense of humor and his sleight of hand, he was able to be professionally successful in his chosen career. He appeared on MTV and VH1, and was also invited to perform his magic routine at the HBO Comedy festival in Aspen, Colo., which featured many comedians, including Dave Chappelle.

“Two nights ago, for two nights I opened for David Spade,” Hughes said. “I also worked with Dave Attell a week before that, and I’ve been pretty good friends with Nick Swardson — he’s one of my best friends from Minnesota.”

The show was UPC After Hours’ first of the semester. Rachel Estes, junior in open option and co-chair for UPC After Hours, said they saw a video of Hughes on the Internet and thought he was hilarious.

“We just got his number, contacted him and he thought it was a good idea to come,” Estes said.

UPC After Hours is an organization that presents substance-free events and entertainment every Friday night. It is funded by the students with help from the Office of Student Activities and Services and the Student Governing Association, so generally the admission is free.

“We have western night coming up with the rodeo club, and the swing dance club is coming to sponsor us,” Estes said. “We also have Lego night, so the people from Lego are coming to help with the events as well as some architecture people.”

For more information on UPC After Hours and their upcoming shows and events, you can visit their website at