TV show features former Sidney resident


By Patricia Ann Speelman - pspeelman@aimmedianetwork.com



Caitlin Barlow, now of Los Angeles, with her second-grade teacher, Brenda Hall, of Sidney, in 1992, in front of Emerson Elementary School in Sidney.

Caitlin Barlow, now of Los Angeles, with her second-grade teacher, Brenda Hall, of Sidney, in 1992, in front of Emerson Elementary School in Sidney.


Former Sidney resident Caitlin Barlow, of Los Angeles, California, as Ms. Cannon in the TV Land comedy series, “Teachers.”


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A former Sidney resident is starring in a comedy series on the TV Land network.

Caitlin Barlow lived in Sidney until she was in the seventh grade. These days, as one of the six women comprising the comedy troupe, the Katydids, she writes, performs in and is an executive producer of “Teachers,” a parody of elementary schools. It airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on the local cable channels 41 and 114.

Barlow attended Emerson Elementary from 1990 through 1996.

“Most of my teachers were amazing,” she said by phone from Los Angeles, recently. She particularly remembers an encounter with her second-grade teacher, Brenda Hall.

“She was always so encouraging,” Barlow said. “When I was 8, I wanted to be the first female NFL player. She said, ‘OK.’ She didn’t say, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ So she helped foster that confidence in me.”

And it was confidence that led Barlow to pursue a teaching career, herself, and to do comedy at night in Chicago. The Barlow family had moved from Sidney to a Chicago suburb when Barlow was 12. She attended Illinois State University, earned a master’s degree from DePaul University, taught English for a year in Japan and then spent four years teaching fourth-grade in Chicago City Schools.

“My comedic bug started in Sidney,” she admitted. “I was a really goofy kid, which I’m sure not all my teachers appreciated.”

Hall, however, remembers her former pupil as “very bright, very well-liked, easy to teach.” She wasn’t, Hall recalled, very theatrical.

“She was curious about things. She was like a little sponge. She was delightful,” the now-retired teacher said. When told about Barlow’s memory of her, Hall added, “It’s nice to know something I said was beneficial to her. I truly believed that my students could do anything they wanted to do. But about some of them, I’d think, ‘That’s an awfully big hill to climb.’”

Comedy was a big hill for Barlow, but she didn’t let that stop her from tackling it.

“It’s really hard to make money doing comedy. (Teaching) was a very, very hard job, but I loved it. I taught during the day and did comedy at night,” she said.

Chicago boasts a vibrant comedy scene, and Barlow met her fellow Katydids comediennes while performing improvisations and sketches in well-known clubs, including the iO Theater. The troupe formed in 2008 and developed “Teachers” as a Web series in 2012. It featured the out-of-classroom antics of a group of elementary school teachers.

“We wrote 24 really short episodes and released them on a You Tube page,” Barlow said. Then, as in a Hollywood movie about how to become a star, being in the right place at the right time paid off for the Katydids.

One of them had been signed by the talent agency, William Morris Endeavor. Her agent knew about the Web series. When officials at the TV Land network called the agency, asking, “Do you have any workplace comedies?,” the agent said, “Yes, we do,” and showed them “Teachers.” TV Land snapped it up, the Katydids moved to L.A. and Barlow became a full-time comedienne.

The women found that writing for television was very different from writing for the Web.

“The longest episode (on the Web) was two and a half minutes. We’re good at writing jokes. We had to learn about story arcs and character development,” Barlow said. They got help from fellow producers Ian Roberts and Jay Martel, who became mentors to the group. Now, the Katydids write episodes in pairs.

“Then we go through a review process. Everyone has a chance to put their hands on it,” Barlow said. She enjoys performing but she likes writing better.

“That’s the most fun for me,” she added. The character she plays, Ms. Cannon, is “80 percent me. She’s who I was in college. She’s the love child I was in college. I was a free thinker, into saving the world. I have mellowed since then.”

“Teachers” opened its second season last week. The show is a mix of old-fashioned slapstick and cerebral wit and this producer/writer/performer hopes it has a long run.

“I’d love to work on ‘Teachers’ as long as possible, of course. I never thought it would happen. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be doing a TV show. But I am interested in developing more shows in the future,” she said.

And as she looks to what’s ahead, she still appreciates what’s gone before.

“I am friends on Face Book with a lot of my classmates from Emerson Elementary and Middle School,” she said. “I thought Sidney was a great place to grow up. I spent a lot of time at the library and playing outside, and I believe that those environments helped foster my sense of creativity.”

Caitlin Barlow, now of Los Angeles, with her second-grade teacher, Brenda Hall, of Sidney, in 1992, in front of Emerson Elementary School in Sidney.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2017/01/web1_Caitlin-and-Mrs.-Hall.jpgCaitlin Barlow, now of Los Angeles, with her second-grade teacher, Brenda Hall, of Sidney, in 1992, in front of Emerson Elementary School in Sidney.

Former Sidney resident Caitlin Barlow, of Los Angeles, California, as Ms. Cannon in the TV Land comedy series, “Teachers.”
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2017/01/web1_Caitlin-as-Ms.-Cannon.jpgFormer Sidney resident Caitlin Barlow, of Los Angeles, California, as Ms. Cannon in the TV Land comedy series, “Teachers.”

By Patricia Ann Speelman

pspeelman@aimmedianetwork.com

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.