Tuca & Bertie’s Lisa Hanawalt on Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Funneling All That Knowledge Into Cartoon Birds

Episode 23

23rd August 2021

The illustrator and TV creator gained wisdom from her mental health obstacles and never stopped drawing.

Episode notes

The first thing that I noticed when watching Tuca & Bertie was that there was a LOT going on. Bertie is frantically trying to navigate her magazine job at Conde Nest AND her dream of being professional baker AND her relationship with her loving and sometimes perplexing boyfriend Speckle. Tuca is just trying to navigate what it means to be a responsible adult as she manages sobriety, romance, and a changing relationship with her best friend, Bertie. Beyond that, there’s just a lot happening on the screen, like quick visual gags, complex background characters, and a universe where plants sometimes have human bodies and are somewhat mystical. 

We were excited to find out all about it from our Maximum Fun colleague, Lisa Hanawalt (co-host of Baby Geniuses), who created the show and runs it. Lisa shares her stories of mental health’s role in her life from being a shockingly morbid preschooler to panic attacks on the freeway as an adult. We never do get her to explain the plants with human bodies but she does fill us in on the Sex Bugs, which may be both pubic lice AND a touring rock band.

Watch Tuca & Bertie Sundays at 11:30 pm on adultswim or online. Listen to Baby Geniuses here on on the podcatcher of your choice. Visit Lisa Hanawalt’s website for books and prints.

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Help is available right away.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, 1-800-273-TALK

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741.

International suicide hotline numbers available here: https://www.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines

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John’s acclaimed memoir, The Hilarious World of Depression, is available here.

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John is on Twitter @johnmoe.

In this episode...


  • Lisa Hanawalt

About the show

Join host John Moe (The Hilarious World of Depression) for honest, relatable, and, yes, sometimes funny conversations about mental health. Hear from comedians, musicians, authors, actors, and other top names in entertainment and the arts about living with depression, anxiety, and many other common disorders. Find out what they’ve done to address it, what worked, and what didn’t. Depresh Mode with John Moe also features useful insights on mental health issues with experts in the field. It’s honest talk from people who have been there and know their stuff. No shame, no stigma, and maybe a few laughs.

Like this podcast? Then you’ll love John’s book, The Hilarious World of Depression.

Logo by Clarissa Hernandez.

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