Barlow was an actual teacher and earned her M.A. in Bilingual Education from DePaul University. She taught fourth grade in Chicago Public Schools before moving to Los Angeles. A native of Illinois, she earned her B.A. in history from Illinois State University in 2006. After graduation, she taught English in Osaka, Japan for a year and then returned to Chicago in 2007 to pursue teaching and performance opportunities.
In Chicago, when she wasn’t trying to get nine year olds interested in fractions, Barlow performed in many improv and sketch reviews at the iO Theater, The Annoyance Theater and Second City. She helped form The Katydids in 2009 and soon thereafter the group began performing improv shows at various blackbox theaters in Chicago. They then moved onto comedic shorts, sketch shows and eventually their web series, Teachers.