CloudTop celebrates Valentine’s Day with laughter




Santa Fe New Mexican


CloudTop celebrates Valentine's Day with laughter By Ashley M. Biggers People are the worst and online dating is a front row seat to our awfulness,” writes comedian Christie Buchele in her book Okay, Bumble. Whether behind the mic or in her writing, Buchele has no shortage of frustrations and foibles to share about her dating life, particularly as someone who discusses her disability in her comedy. Alternating between belly laugh–inducing and heartwrenching, Buchele’s self-deprecating comedy has been described as “uncomfortable” — by her mom. The Denverbased comedian, who has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and cohosts the relationship advice podcast Empty Girlfriend, hopes to celebrate loving yourself first. As she continues in Okay, Bumble, “You are pretty, funny, smart, and popular; everyone else is terrible, and I never want you to forget it.” Buchele headlines Love Sucks, a comedy tribute to the single life, on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. during the Art + Sol Festival. Presented by Santa Fe Playhouse and CloudTop, the event is CloudTop’s first pop-up outside its fall festival. “Who doesn’t hate Valentine’s Day?” asks CloudTop founder and director Jessica Baxter. “Love sucks! Of course, we all know that’s not true. Love is a beautiful thing. But this show is meant to be an ode to the burnout so many feel around dating culture, dating apps, and the commercialization of Valentine’s Day. I think it’s safe to say we’ve reached peak frustration with dating. It’s time to laugh at ourselves and the absurdity of it all.” CloudTop also booked Albuquerque comedian Robert “Buck D” Gipson as a featured performer. Buck D grew up listening to vinyl comedy records of Richard Pryor and watching Def Comedy Jam on HBO in the mid-’90s. After years of heckling fellow comics during their performances, he figured it was time to get in the arena. He describes his approach as bold, brash, and no holds barred. “I’m unapologetically myself, and I love doing my style of comedy, especially for those who aren’t used to it,” he says. His last Valentine’s Day performance was a few years ago at Albuquerque’s KiMo Theatre. “The morning of the show, I found out my girlfriend was cheating on me. I moved out of my place that morning and did the show that night. So,” he laughs, “I got a lot to talk about when it comes to love and comedy.” According to Baxter, the duo represents a key element of the nonprofit arts organization’s mission: “to prioritize women, people of color, and people who are differently abled.” She says, “We get asked all the time if we’re a women’s comedy festival because we’ve had so many women headliners.” Baxter, a longtime comedy connoisseur but not a comedian herself, launched the local festival in 2019. “I’d been secretly obsessed with stand-up for a long time,” she says. “Santa Fe has so many brilliant arts organizations, but comedy was lacking. I felt Santa Fe deserved a great comedy festival, so I pulled it together with a few friends.” To do so, she’s had to convince big-time agents to book with a then unknown and still little-known festival. Her has gambit paid off. After a pandemic hiatus, the festival returned in 2022 with headliners such as Netflix and HBO Max stand-up special alumna Beth Stelling. “We’re all about getting the best performers possible, selling tickets at a price you can afford, and seating the audience within spitting distance of the performer,” Baxter says. “There’s a wonderful interplay between the comedian and the audience in intimate venues that gets lost in huge ones. That energy and electricity is what makes it fun.” The Art + Sol Festival show is the organization’s first foray into stand-alone performances. “It’s a great alternative way to spend your Valentine’s Day,” Baxter says. “I think people forgot how to have fun. We’re going to help you figure it out.”