ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The world needs more laughter – Jessica Baxter is bringing it to Santa Fe.
As the founder and director of CloudTop Comedy Festival, Baxter is giving another lane to comedians – local and national.
“New Mexico and Santa Fe have high art figured out,” she says. “Comedy is an art form too. You only have to open Netflix to see how popular it is. There’s nothing like seeing comedy in a live setting. New Mexico deserves a great comic scene.”
The CloudTop Comedy Festival begins Thursday, Sept. 12, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 15.
Performers will include Fortune Feimster, Maria Bamford, Naomi Ekperigin, Kellen Erskine and James Adomian. Also on the schedule is a Second City workshop, as well as open mics and a local comedy showcase and a future comedy showcase.
The events will take place in Santa Fe at the likes of Meow Wolf, Second Street Brewery’s Rufina Taproom, Jean Cocteau Cinema, The Scottish Rite, New Mexico Museum of Art, Eloisa and Casa España.
“We had a call for comedians, and over 140 applied to be part of the festival,” she says. “We selected 11, and we’re calling it future comedy showcase. This will be a rapid-fire showcase for the comedians.”
The idea for the festival came more than a year ago, and Baxter says she has been obsessed with comedy for seven years.
“We want to bring really big headliners,” she says. “We also want to give a platform to aspiring comics who don’t necessarily have that platform or access yet.”
Opening night is for VIP members. Headlining that night are Feimster and Ekperigin – at Meow Wolf and Rufina Taproom, respectively.
“Fortune is going to do an intimate show at Meow Wolf, with seating for 70,” she says. “You’ll be able to see all of these comedians who are used to performing in big venues in a small, intimate setting. It’s the experience we wanted to create with the festival.”
The festival also has a way of being accessible to everybody.
With tickets starting at $10, the nonprofit offers numerous community engagement programs, each with the intention of creating a festival for all. These include family programming, a free workshop with renowned improvisational theater troupe The Second City.
“We also have a program that if you sign up to volunteer, then you earn you slot to get to the festival for free,” she says. “We’re trying to build the comedy community up. There’s a lot of talent here already.”