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18-plus comedy club set to open in downtown Albuquerque

On Thursday, June 23, the Albuquerque comedy scene is set to grow richer with the opening of Dry Heat Comedy Club, a new club owned by comedian and former University of New Mexico student Sarah Kennedy and horror writer Kelli Trapnell.

Kennedy and Trapnell, married, decided to rent and open the club together earlier this year, inspired by similar performer-owned spaces in Denver. Prior to this, Kennedy hosted a podcast titled “Comedy Ghost Town” in which she explored the reasons Albuquerque did not have a comedy club — when she started, she had no idea this was where her journey would end up.

“I genuinely thought I'm just gonna do this,” Kennedy said. “And then I'm gonna put it out there and somebody very rich is gonna hear it and be so grateful that all this research has been done for them.”

As a part of their opening weekend, Dry Heat Comedy Club is hosting a series of shows with local and visiting comics, starting with headlining comics Jess Wood and Zach Abeyta. Unlike most clubs, Dry Heat is an 18-plus venue, meaning UNM students under 21 are allowed (and encouraged) to attend. Students interested in pursuing stand-up are encouraged to try it as soon as possible.

“Comedians can still tell the same exact jokes to college students as they could to graduated adults or whatever … It makes no sense to draw, like, a weird line,” Trapnell said. “The best part about making shows 18-and-over means that our open mics are 18-and-over too,” Kennedy added.

Dry Heat also serves to close the gap of knowledge for Albuquerque residents concerning local stand-up. By providing a space for well-established local comics and outside talent, they hope to show people that there is comedy outside what exists in the bars or on Netflix. 

“The knowledge base of the general populace here seems to be like, either the person you saw at the brewery the other day, or like, Kevin Hart,” Trapnell said.

Since the closing of Albuquerque’s Laff’s Comedy Cafe in 2009, local stand-up comedy has been mostly underground, performed at house shows, breweries and anywhere else comics could find some stage time. With the new club, Kennedy and Trapnell hope to support the thriving indie environment rather than overtake it.

“The idea would be it supports the stuff underneath it, not the other way around … We're not here to be like, ‘and if you are over there, then you can't be over here.’ … All of that stuff has to exist so that comedians can make lots of money if they want to by making a deal with a brewery or whatever they need to do,” Kennedy said.

As queer women in what can be a traditionally exclusionary field, Kennedy and Trapnell plan to prioritize safety and support of their audience and performers at shows. To this end, their website has a list of people who will not be allowed to perform at Dry Heat, including members of hate groups, those with credible abuse allegations or those with a history of violence against others.

“We're not trying to keep anybody from saying what they wanna say on stage. However we also aren't trying to platform anyone who's hateful or will espouse violence,” Trapnell said. “There's a whole lot of ways that safety can look and we just wanna make sure that we are very explicit about how it looks to us and how we'll be making decisions based on that so that nobody's surprised on either end,” Kennedy added.

Dry Heat Comedy Club updates and upcoming events on Instagram @dryheatcomedy. Kennedy can be found on Twitter or at her website. Trapnell can be found on Twitter.

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Spenser Willden is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @spenserwillden

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