Tim Barnes, Melody Kamali, Marlena Rodriguez, and Ian Abramson
Tim Barnes, Melody Kamali, Marlena Rodriguez, and Ian Abramson Credit: James Webb

Started in April, Double Feature offers a half-and-half blend of live stand-up and comedic short films. It’s a collaborative effort between Ian Abramson, Tim Barnes, Melody Kamali, and Marlena Rodriguez, all comics and actors who take turns hosting. They recently established a home at the Lincoln Lodge, the kind of venue where you order a Miller Genuine Draft and your wonderful waitress says, sincerely, “That’s my favorite beer.”

Double Feature is the example I use when I tell struggling actor/writer/media friends in New York or Los Angeles to come to the midwest—it exemplifies the norm of friendly collaboration in Chicago. Barnes told me that his greatest joy is giving filmmakers the chance to see the reaction of a live audience, something rare for anyone from a small production company whose films float in the strange, anonymous seas of YouTube. As a viewer, it’s a joy to have quality films plucked from the waters for you.

The process by which films are selected is democratic. Anyone can submit; the collective decides with a three-fourths majority on whether to screen. The producers themselves are from diverse backgrounds, a fact effortlessly reflected in their show: this month’s edition features stand-up from Calvin Evans, who can bounce between Jokes and Notes and the Laugh Factory with ease; CJ Toledano, who cut his chops in Chicago before heading to LA to write for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, among others; and CJ Sullivan, who’s appeared on Comedy Central. Barnes hosts, and Rodriguez and Kamali perform sets.