Donnie Hughes

Halifax County native and former musician Donnie Hughes is finding success with standup comedy, securing a spot on a Netflix program, “3 Insane Comedians,” scheduled for release in late October.

It’s all about the energy, and musician turned standup comedian Donnie Hughes has scored a spot on an upcoming Netflix show called “3 Insane Comedians.”

Norm Macdonald of Saturday Night Live fame is set to host the show due to premiere around Halloween.

An entertainer since the 1970s, the Halifax County High School graduate played with area bands such as “Carney Hill,” “Star” and “Afton,” that later developed a cult following overseas, according to Hughes.

He did stints with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Pat Travers Band, and he has played in venues from Rhode Island to Houston and to Atlanta.

Hughes, a county native, played with a group called “Saint,” that had a five-song EP out on Capital EMI in 1983 and had a video on MTV, and he toured with 1980’s bands like Loverboy, Cheap Trick, Journey and Huey Lewis and the News.

Now 66-years-old Hughes has found a new calling with stand-up comedy, and his new career came about in somewhat of an unusual fashion, Hughes said, when he and his daughter visited a club in Richmond.

“They had an open mic night, and five minutes turned into 30 minutes,” said Hughes.

One thing led to another, and Hughes returned to Richmond to perform at the Mojo Room, before being signed with ICM (International Creative Management).

That in turn got Hughes a stint in a comedy show in New York City and even more recognition.

Music and comedy are similar in at least one aspect, according to Hughes, who now lives in Richmond.

When comparing music and comedy, Hughes said it is all about the energy.

“It’s two different modes, but it’s the same vibe, and you’re making people happy,” said Hughes. “People go to clubs to get away from everything.”

Hughes has performed at comedy venues such as the Laugh Factory in Baltimore, the Comedy House in Columbia, South Carolina, and Theatre 99 in Charleston, South Carolina.

He’s done standup at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, Comedy Worx in Raleigh and Dirty Bull in Durham, all in North Carolina, along with Cozzy’s in Newport News and Penny Lane in Richmond.

In addition to his appearance on the Netflix program, Hughes is working on another project, an endorsement for virtual reality wireless headphone inserts.

“They liked my motto, ‘they’re so real, you can feel the spit coming off the microphone,’” said Hughes of his endorsement for the virtual reality wireless headphones.

Hughes also stays busy outside of his standup comedy and endorsement, working on a podcast with Joe Rogan of “Fear Factor” and “The Man Show.”

You can follow Donnie on Twitter at donniR or on Facebook at donnierhughes.

He also has a website under construction where his fans can purchase things like bumper stickers, baseball caps, T-shirts, tour schedules, with the website scheduled to make its debut in November.

The reason for his success is simple, Hughes pointed out.

“People want to get away, they go to these clubs because they want to laugh,” said Hughes. “They almost always want an encore, and at the Laugh Factory in Baltimore, they didn’t even want me to leave. I had to do autographs.”

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at