Teachers: A New Comedy Created by The Katydids for TV Land

What is Teachers?

Teachers is an irreverent ensemble comedy about six elementary school teachers. It will premiere on Viacom’s TV Land on January 13, 2016.

It is based on the Teachers web series which was created by The Katydids and Matthew Miller, and produced by Cap Gun Collective. The Katydids wrote, executive produced, and star in the TV show. Emmy-nominated Ian Roberts and Jay Martel (Key and Peele, Get Hard) showrun. The incredibly talented Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) is an executive producer.

The show will be paired with the second season the hit show Younger, which stars Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff, and was created by Darren Star (Sex and the City, Beverly Hills 90210). The first season of Teachers consists of ten half-hour episodes, and includes a plethora of killer guest stars, including Rob Corddry, Alison Brie, Rob Riggle, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ian Roberts, Lacey Chabert, and Sam Richardson. Teachers is one of several shows that TV Land has produced to appeal to a younger demographic.

The Katydids Promotional Photo for Teachers

Promo Shot for Teachers on TV Land

Web Series to Pilot to TV Series

Before it was a television show, Teachers was a web series.

In 2011, The Katydids were working on writing a pilot for a production company in Chicago. When considering directors for the project, Matthew Miller, a director and teacher with an extensive casting background, came to mind. That project didn’t seem to be the right fit for Miller, but the meetings were energizing and Miller knew he wanted to collaborate with us on something in the future.

The Katydids Promotional Photo for Teachers

The Katydids with Matt Miller on the set of the web series in 2011

A few months later, Miller approached The Katydids with the idea of doing a web series that focused on teachers. Miller had happened on a few articles about teachers - studies that cited teaching as one of the most adulterous and most gossip-ridden professions - and yet also one of the most admired professions. This juxtaposition, along with the relatability factor - we all know teachers or have had a teacher - led to the concept for the web series.

In January 2012, The Katydids started writing scripts under the direction of Miller. Our very own Caitlin Barlow actually was a Chicago Public School teacher, so she had a lot of juicy bits to contribute, and we were able to interview a handful of teachers and elementary-aged students to get the low-down on what their daily lives looked like. We raised a few thousand dollars through a Kickstarter, and then teamed up with Chicago production company, Cap Gun Collective, who seemed to really dig our ideas.

Cap Gun gathered some of the most talented film industry folks in the city to provide us with the equipment and crew needed to make our series look top notch. Miller called in some favors to his casting pals and secured super-legit talent. Cate Freedman ventured back to the middle school that she attended and asked if we could shoot in their building. In July 2012, with our powers combined, we shot over twenty episodes in three days.

Kim Markley, a Teachers Web Series Episode, featuring myself and Cecily Strong

We began releasing a few episodes of Teachers each week that fall. We were very proud of what we had produced, but had no idea what would come out of the project beyond some nice exposure. To our delight, the series was met with an outstanding amount of enthusiasm.

Within a few short months, we had established a handful of exciting partnerships. The Onion released a few episodes on their YouTube channel, and The Katydids formed a partnership with Above Average, the online branch of Broadway Video (SNL, 30 Rock, Portlandia). Most excitingly, super agency, William Morris Endeavor (WME), expressed an interest in working with us to sell the series as a television show.

Speak Up, a Teachers Web Series episode, featuring Katy Colloton, Robyn Okrant and Jim Stevenson

The Katydids, Miller, and Cap Gun Collective, teamed up with Alec Botnick at WME, who helped us in our journey to take the series to the next step. Alec introduced us to the hilarious, smart, and uber-talented Alison Brie, who joined our team as an executive producer in the summer of 2013.

Our plan was to go out and start pitching to networks, but before we had a chance, TV Land came to WME looking for edgy new content. WME shared our web series with them and they fell in love with it. TV Land offered us a pilot deal in the fall of 2013.

Uncle Figure, a Teachers Web Series Episode, Featuring Caitlin Barlow and Richard Cotovsky

Our pilot deal was officially announced in March 2014, and we were able to really move forward. Our team’s quality was enhanced even further by the addition of our showrunner-duo, Ian Roberts and Jay Martel. The pilot was directed by Richie Keen (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless), which we shot in July 2014 with production company, Lifeboat Productions. The Katydids, Ian, and Jay, spent weeks in the editing room working on the pilot with our lovely editor until we got the final piece in the can around mid-August.

For the next six weeks, we held our breath as TV Land worked with Viacom to decide whether or not we would go to series. By this point, all six Katydids had relocated to LA without the luxury of knowing whether we’d be doing more than one episode. We had no idea what we were going to do if the show didn’t go to series. There were some pretty big risks being taken. On October 1, 2014, TV Land announced that Teachers would have a 10-episode season. Holy. Shit.

Teachers Pilot Writer's Room

In the Teachers writing room

The remainder of first season’s episodes were written over a five month period by The Katydids, with the guidance of Ian, Jay, and a wonderful story consultant, Jill Cargerman (Las Vegas, Working Class). The show was shot in seven and a half weeks at a closed down school in Northridge, California, under the leadership of producer, Keith Raskin (Key and Peele, The League). The delightful Payman Benz (The Last Man on Earth, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) came on as our director for the nine episodes following the pilot. On top of all that, the Teachers crew was out of this world! Every single person who worked on the show was talented, kind, and down-to-earth. There are no words to describe the gratitude I have for all of those people.

As executive producers, The Katydids were heavily involved in everything from picking a logo to to making casting decisions with our incredible casting director, Sherie Hernandez (Playing House, Chasing Life). We were heavily involved in the post-production process, spending a gazillion hours in the bay with our fabulous editors and Emmy-nominated composer, Joshua Funk (Key and Peele).

On set with the cast and crew of Teachers

The Teachers Video Village with Ian Roberts, Josie Roberts, Jay Martel, Payman Benz, Matthew Miller, TV Land's Brad Gardner, Alyssa Forleiter, Blake Wexler, Katy Colloton, Kate Lambert, and moi

It would be remiss of me not to give a massive, loving, gratitude-filled shout out to TV Land. We were so lucky to have been paired up with a network that supported whatever weird, funky, dark visions we had for Teachers. When we began our writing process, we found ourselves trying to be a little cleaner and more conservative with our material, given that TV Land is a historically family-friendly network. Much to our delight, TV Land encouraged us to stick to our voice and tell our stories the way we always have. We were so surprised to have a network empower us to be true to ourselves. I truly believe what resulted was an incredibly original television show with a unique tone, voice, and style, that can’t be compared to anything else out there. Thank you, TV Land! You’re the bee’s knees!

The last year and a half has been completely surreal for The Katydids! We wrote, shot, and edited ten episodes of a show that we created! And we suddenly all live in LA?! It feels like we went through a television bootcamp, that we should have our master’s degrees in TV-making after this immersive experience. We learned so much and worked our tails off to make our dream a reality. Instead of waiting for someone to cast us, to put us in a random role or gig, to allow outsiders to tell us who we could be, we took control. We made our own path. We stayed true to ourselves. And guess what? It worked. For better or worse, Teachers is totally us. Check it out when it premieres on January, 12 2016. We really hope you like it.

The Katydids Promotional Photo for Teachers

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Who the Hell are The Katydids?

The Katydids

The Katydids is a comedy group consisting of six women whose names all happen to be derived from Katherine.

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In 2008, Caitlin Barlow noticed that an iO Chicago show called Radical Concept was accepting submissions from improv teams who had crazy ideas for new show forms. Caitlin realized that she knew a lot of hilarious women named Katie, so she asked Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien, and myself if we wanted to apply. We didn’t all know each other, but trusted in the genius of Caitlin Barlow, and all got on board.

The Katydids Improvising

An early Katydids improv show at Studio BE

It turned out that a bunch of people having the same name was not radical enough, so we did not get a slot in the show. However, we figured we’d instead do a just-for-fun one-off show at The Playground Theater. With no prior meetings or rehearsals, the six of met for dinner one night to get some introductions in, then headed over to The Playground to improvise together. We had a blast, patted each other on the back, and went on our merry ways.

Over the next few months, The Katydids picked up the occasional low-stress, random one-off improv shows. By the fall of 2009, we realized that we had an amazing chemistry unlike any of the other teams we had been performing with. We were all very different people and performers, but when we played together, we produced something beautifully unique. It was finally time to explore this dynamic further.

The Katydids

An image from our first ever promotional shoot. Photo by Tom McGrath

We rented out a black box theatre, Studio BE (now MCL Chicago), and did a run of shows with fellow badass improv group, Computer. The success of that run earned us a midnight show at iO Chicago, which, to many improvisors, is a bit of a dream.

We also made a series of silly promotional videos for that show with our brilliant friend, Bobby Richards, which turned out to be quite popular.

The Katydids’ First Promo Video for the iO Theatre

We continued performing weekly at iO for a time under the guidance of our coach and Second City Mainstage alumn, Anthony LeBlanc, and went on to book improv runs at The Second City’s Donny’s Skybox Theatre, The Annoyance Theatre, and ComedySportz.

We also made multiple appearances at UCB’s Del Close Marathon in NYC, the Chicago Improv Festival, and the Southern Illinois Improv Festival in Carbondale. We wrote and performed one single sketch show, Nice To Meet You, I Love You, under the direction of Charna Halpern.

How To Live Like Beyonce, an original Katydids video

Our successful promo videos inspired us to continue writing and producing other web shorts, some of which have been featured by The Huffington Post, MTV, Perez Hilton, Smosh, Cosmopolitan, Italy's Vanity Fair, College Humor, and The Chicago Sun Times. It was our love of making these online videos that pushed us to create the Teachers web series, which you know all about now that you’ve diligently read this entire page.

The Katydids Teachers Web Series Promo

Original poster for the original Teachers Web Series

By June 2014, all of The Katydids had relocated to Los Angeles to write, produce, and star in our very own TV show. We still improvise a bit out here in Los Angeles, so check out our Twitter and Facebook accounts for up-to-date information on those shows.

We’re usually at UCB once a month and occasionally show up at iO West. It’s nearly seven years later, and we’re still having a blast on an empty stage with nothing but each other’s sick and twisted minds and big old hearts.

What's Third Base?, A Katydids sketch produced in partnership with Above Average

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