Lisa Hanawalt: I think it's just about breaking down some barriers of what is, what is expected of women versus men and how men are just historically able to move more freely through society just doing what they do. And women have to like keep everything tight and like look perfect and not fart and not burp and like, I don't know. Just kinda clearing that away and just showing how we are actually. Um, and showing how horny and stupid we are. It's just really important to me.
Dessa: I’m Dessa, and this is Werk It: the Podcast, a compilation of some of the best moments from the live event.
And that was the one and only Lisa Hanawalt, the woman behind Tuca & Bertie, BoJack Horseman, Coyote Doggirl and Hot Dog Taste Test. Plus -- no surprise -- she's also a podcaster!
For this year’s Werk It’s keynote Paula Szuchman spoke with Lisa Hanawalt. Paula is the Vice President of New Show Development at WNYC Studios.
During the conversation, Paula refers to a Tweet and a few other fun things Lisa has made. But don't worry, podcast listeners! You can find links in the show notes, so you can see them for yourself.
Now, here’s Paula and Lisa.
Paula: Um, so welcome. I love your work. One of the reasons I love your work so much is because you, and we talked about this earlier, you are more of a rule breaker than most people I know. And when I'm watching your show I think something I think is going in a certain direction and I think there are certain rules for what's happening and then something totally different happens. Um, so we will get to that. But I wanted to start with, um, this is a women's podcasting conference. I wanted to start with clothes. Specifically something that you wore to the Emmys.
Lisa: Oh yes. This was made by my friend Lacey, who is the creator of Big Bud Press, which is an amazing clothing company and she's just someone that I met in New York years and years ago. But back before she made clothes and then suddenly she started this company and now it's like this huge thing. You see their rainbow colored jumpsuits everywhere. Um, and I designed this pattern of these plant ladies and then she was just like, “do you want me to make you an outfit? I can make you an outfit.”And she just like whipped it up.
Paula: Yeah, you are--
Lisa: She’s incredible
Paula: You're one of the few people I know who really combine your work and your clothes, so well.
Lisa: Thank you.
Paula: Have you worn this outfit since?
Lisa: No, it was kind of made last minute, so it's a little like, it was screen-printed very quickly. Um, but I think we're going to make more of them.
Paula: Ooh. Um, so for those of you who don't know, the character on this featured on this suit is Draca, right?
Lisa: Yeah. None of them are specifically Draca, but they are her cousins.
Paula: They are her cousins. And Draca is a--
Lisa: She's a plant woman. Um, she's like a Dracaena plant specifically, I think?
Paula: Dracaena plant?
Paula: What are the characteristics of Dracaena plant?
Lisa: I don't really know. I have one. It's dying.
Paula: I actually have a little outtake of Draca from Tuca and Bertie you can see it right there on the confidence monitor. So again, going back to the fact that Tuca and Bertie kind of goes in unexpectedly bizarre directions. Um, the show itself, for those of you who don't know is about two 30-something birds. Um, Tuca played by Tiffany Haddish and Bertie played by Ali Wong. In some respects Bertie is like, you know, neurotic, anxious, shy has big ambitions but is too scared to, you know, follow them sometimes. And Tuca is adventurous and confident and a hot mess and of course their actual personalities are, you know, more nuanced and complex. But I think at least for me watching the show definitely feels, I'm going to get rid of a topless Draca off for a second. Um, just to me feels like, you know, very easy to identify with both and very easy to identify with their friendship.
Lisa: I will say all the writers in the writers room were Berties.
Paula: They were all Berties?
Paula: So talk about that. What do you mean by that?
Lisa: Oh, I just mean like during their interviews they were all like, “I'm a Bertie,” which I thought was really interesting.
Paula: I, I’m a Bertie and a Tuca.
Paula: What are you?
Lisa: I’m strongly both.
Paula: You’re strongly both?
Lisa: I definitely like, I do things a lot where my boyfriend is like, “you are such a Tuca right now.” I'm just like a little bit impulsive and selfish and loud sometimes, but that doesn't always come out in public.
Paula: Right. It will in a few minutes. And is he a Speckle? Speckle is Bertie’s--
Lisa: He’s a Speckle, yes.
Paula: How do you describe a Speckle?
Lisa: Just like a good solid dude. It's funny, like a lot of people watch the first episode and they're like, “I thought that Speckle was going to turn out to be this like toxic boyfriend character. And then he never really went that way. He's just like, he's good.” And I'm like,” yeah, there are some good men out there.” Um, and I, it's funny, like it's, I didn't expect that reaction. Um, people hadn't quite seen that in TV for a long time.
Paula: The, the, the, the, that kind of bird?
Lisa: Yeah. That specific kind of bird.
Paula: Does anybody, I don't know who's watched Tuca and Bertie, but are there a hand, show of hands for who's a Tuca? Shout! Shout if you're a Tuca!
Lisa: I love her.
Paula: Okay shout mildly if you're a Bertie. And what if you're a Speckle? No Speckles. I definitely want a Speckle in my life.
Lisa: Speckles are good.
Paula: Um, one of the things in my vast research that I did for this, um, was uh, looking at a New York Times article by Amanda Hess and she said something that I loved, which is, um, “The animalism of Hanawalt’s work helps reveal parts of women we rarely see on screen-- the strangest, horniest, hungriest parts.” And you actually said in that interview “that it was very important to me to show that women are gross.” So one of the things I wanted to ask you is, again, where does the show come from? Why do the women in it have to be gross, strange, horny, et cetera. Why is that important to you?
Lisa: I think it's just about breaking down some barriers of what is, what is expected of women versus men and how men are just historically able to move more freely through society just doing what they do. And women have to like keep everything tight and like look perfect and not fart and not burp and like, I don't know. Just kinda clearing that away and just showing how we are actually. Um, and showing how horny and stupid we are. It's just really important to me.
Paula: That's your feminist mission.
Lisa: Mmhm. We’re horny idiots.
Paula: Well, I have a question. So you know, we, you are, you know, you created BoJack in terms of like actually BoJack's head face, like his--
Lisa: Yeah, the look of all the characters came from me.
Lisa: And the backgrounds and such.
Paula: And when you were going out to make your own show, what were some of the things that you wanted to sort of undo or reverse or evolve from the BoJack world?
Lisa: It's interesting cause I never thought I wanted my own TV show. That's not been one of my benchmarks. Um, but, uh, working on BoJack for five years, I definitely, although I love the show so much and I love Raphael and I love working on it. There were definitely frustrations I had with it where I was like, every time, you know, we see like a Diane or Princess Caroline story, I just want to stay with them longer. Um, I just wanna like explore that. Um, and I'm less interested in some of the other characters. Um, and that world is also, it's funny because even though there's like animal people, I feel like it's actually a very structured world where things are very realistic. So I wanted to break that up a little bit and, you know, loosen up the animation. And, um, I mean now I'm just like getting into process. But, uh, yeah, I mean there's just a lot of things I wanted to do differently.
Paula: Okay. So this is going to be a good segue for me when you talk about doing things differently. I have a video, um just a short clip from one of my favorite scenes in Tuca and Bertie. Um, which is I think they're in a supermarket and uh, it's the sex bugs. So some of you might know them as, I dunno crabs is that--
Lisa: Uh, no they’re just sex bugs.
Paula: Sex bugs. But I mean, some of, some of you might've had sex bugs, but you might not have envisioned them in the way that Lisa has envisioned the sex bugs. So could we have that video, please?
[Audio Clip]: Ma'am, are these your sex bugs? Yes. We will not be shamed. Damn, you all shamed me? Uh Tuca? I’m not-- you assholes want to be on the jury? Alright. Although this is highly unorthodox. I'm going to allow this because the traffic heading back to the CSPC headquarters is murderous this time of day and I just cannot. Cool. [End Audio Clip]
Lisa: That was Laverne Cox.
Paula: Ah! I was going to ask you who that was. Um, I love the sex bugs because they're so, I mean, I guess this is the wrong, bad thing to say but they’re very human.
Paula: Like I, the fact that you could feel empathy for a sex bug. Um, tell me about that episode. Tell me about where the sex bugs came from. Not literally, but you know, in your, in your imagination.
Lisa: What's interesting is that was actually the first episode I wrote. Um, back when we first pitched to Netflix and they were like, “okay, write us a script and then we'll see if we want to buy it or not.” I wrote the sex bugs episode more or less, like it's definitely changed a lot. And Rachelle Williams actually took over and wrote the episode. Um, but it was a version of that. And uh, then they were like, “this is great, but this doesn't seem like a first episode, so can you write another one?” So then I wrote what ended up being the first episode and move this step. Sorry this is boring. Um, and then they ordered the show. Um, but something about this episode, sex bugs were just something I came up with, they’re in my mini comics from like over 10 years ago. Um, me and Raphael made up a song about them.
Paula: Can you sing it?
Lisa: It was like, “we know that we disgust you with our inside outside hugs, we’re the sex bugs.” it's, um, just like--
Paula: Thank you for humoring me.
Lisa: You're welcome. Um, and I just wanted to show that Bertie has anxiety and it's not for any particular reason. She just has a panic attack in a grocery store. And it was very funny like pitching that because every, uh, all the male execs I pitched it to are just like, “Yeah, but why does she have anxiety?” I was like, “There is no reason. She just has it.” And they're like, “But what causes it?” You don't empathize with this at all, do you? You just never, um it was very hard to explain. Um, yeah.
Paula: I so-
Lisa: And I like saying that song that she sings in the grocery store like--
Paula: Oh yeah, that song is, that song is really good. Can you sing that song?
Lisa: Oh where she’s like, “I'm losing my shit for no reason.” Like that. Yeah.
Paula: That's right. That happened. That's the same episode. “I'm losing my shit.” Oh, God. That's going to be a good mantra. The for no reason part I think is very, um, soothing. There doesn't have to be a reason.
Lisa: I think maybe we changed it. So she says for so many reasons and then all the other people are like, for no reason. They’re like, no.
Paula: So that sounds very scary to go and pitch your show. That involves sex bugs and birds who masturbate and stuff like that to a room full of TV executives. Um, can you tell me about that? Like how does that work? There's a lot of people in this room who, you know, are, have work of their own that they are, you know, either out there making right now or planning on making or thinking about making or wanting to take it bigger or wanting to take it smaller. So I think there's a lot of people who can, you know, who would, who, who are sort of in our place of like having this thing that we want to do, but then before we do it, we gotta pitch it!
Lisa: I hate pitching. I hate proposals. I hate any kind of thing where you have to like explain what the thing is. I'm always like, “just give me the money and let me make it and then I'll show you.”
Paula: Trust me!
Lisa: I'll show you how good it is. Like I can't explain it, but like you need to. Um, so, uh, I think it's just a matter of like practicing it a lot. I practiced the pitch a lot.
Paula: Which is like, like three people in suits behind a table?
Lisa: Oh my God. I mean, at one point I was, when I was like pitching out the first season, it was like a room with like 20 people, like just a long table with like, all kinds of people. It was terrifying, and I had to like--
Paula: Did you stand or sit?
Lisa: I was sitting and I had to like, explain the part where like Bertie jerks off in the bathroom and everyone was just like [inaudible] And I was like, “should I go or can I finish the rest of the season?” Um, uh, yeah, it's just practicing it and just going in there and just knowing the whole time that it's going to feel like you have food poisoning, but it's fine. You just kind of, I mean, I've like had pitch meetings where I just had like, horrible dry mouth the entire time and I was like, “I cannot stop to get a sip of water cause I'm going like, look like Marco Rubio, you know what I mean?”
Paula: Yes, I do!
Lisa: Where he's just like [inaudible] like I just can't, I gotta push through and hope that they don't notice. Um, you're, you know, it's like 5:00 PM on a Friday and you're just looking into these execs eyes, just totally dead eyed, so bored by everything you're saying. And you're like, “Well!”
Paula: Are they doing it at 5:00 PM on a Friday to fuck with you?
Lisa: Mm, maybe. I dunno. I think that's just when the meeting was planned and you're like, “Fuck, okay, well. I hope I don't completely bore them.”
Paula: So, then you got your own show?
Lisa: I did.
Paula: Which is huge. Especially, I mean period. Huge.
Lisa: I’m amazed that happened.
Paula: I'm not amazed cause I think you're wonderful, but it's also, you know, from what I understand, I mean, all industries are pretty male-dominated, but the adult animation industry is like, I mean, I got somewhere on my cards. I got a stat, I don't know, um, that a few years ago Splitsider ran a piece saying that 47 creators listed for late night comedy giant Adult Swim’s current roster of shows, none were women.
Lisa: Yeah, you know, this was, I mean, I got it. It was like, first place my mind went to when the show was canceled was I just like, was like, I couldn't even crack, like getting past one season. It's just, it's just so hard. I don't know why it's so hard.
Paula: Is there a something about this thing? Is it like--
Lisa: I have so many theories, uh, that I can't fully get into it’s just, at this moment. It's just, it's really hard. I'm not going to stop trying and there's a lot more, um, women created shows coming out now, which is nice. A lot that are, you know, um, down the pipeline. Like I think, Bless the Hearts just came out on Fox and that's a woman created show and, um--
Paula: There’s the animated one on Amazon too, is it Raphael?
Lisa: Yeah. By Kate Purdy, and Raphael Ball-Waxsberg, who also created BoJack. Um, it's incredible. Yeah. That, that show’s beautiful. It's entirely rotoscoped and like the backgrounds are literal oil paintings. Like it's fantastic. So there's a lot more women making animated shows right now. I think it's a really good time and things are changing. But um, yes, historically it's been mostly male.
Paula: Yeah. And I don't know. In my mind I'm like, “is that because like dudes are the ones who are like playing video games in their basement early on,” and you know? I don't know.
Lisa: Well, when all the shows are made by men about men, then that's what the audience is going to be. So then when you make a female show, you have to then bring more women to watch something that they're not used to being for them. I think that's part of the difficulty as well. Uh.
Paula: Right. And also when--
Lisa: And then men watch it and they're like, “this isn't for me. I don't like it. That means it's for nobody.”
Paula: Because there's women masturbating and they're actually cartoons of birds. So that's not the same as porn.
Lisa: There's a lot of barriers.
Paula: Also, women aren't funny. That's another thing.
Lisa: They aren’t, no.
Lisa: Yeah. I think Christopher Hitchens--
Paula: It definitely--
Lisa: --cleared that up for everyone.
Paula: It’s a drawback when you're a woman that you're not funny. Um, so I don't want to harp on, you know, when Netflix canceled the show, but I want to, I want to talk about it--
Lisa: Let’s not.
Paula: This kind of shit happens and it's, and it's unfair and it's anger-inducing when it's your own thing. And I guess I just think also it's helpful I think for this particular audience to understand, you know, what did, what was your process like after. Is this, is this, because I'm talking to someone who works with animal cartoons, um, what was your, how did you, what was the journey after that? And I know like I heard your--
Lisa: After the show was canceled?
Paula: Well I heard your podcast episode talking to Emily about it and there was, you know, a page one up immediately to save Tuca and Bertie and there was huge outpouring.
Lisa: Which has been so nice. I really appreciate like everyone who has tweeted about it and like, signed the petition and stuff like it. I mean it definitely helps. Like, it's nice to, it was, I mean, it was hard because I, I found out like a month before I was able to say anything publicly and that was the most difficult cause I was just alone with it and I thought nobody would care. Like, I just thought people would be like, “well, it was bad, so.” Um, but the fact that people were like, “This is a huge fuck up. This is a mistake,” was it just felt good. I wasn't alone with that many more. Um, yeah, it was surprisingly emotional and personal. I just, um, I wish I could be like, “well, you know, that's just one project I have a lot.” Which I do, but like I put a lot of heart into everything I make. And so when they don't, you know, succeed, then, uh, yeah, it feels very personal.
Paula: Does it give you, when you think about your next project, do you think about it differently in any way?
Lisa: Um, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm interested in. I can't really, you know, when you, when you're about to make something, you can't really think about whether it's gonna pass or fail or like who's gonna like it, who's gonna care? Like you just have to kind of keep going back to your own north star of like, um, what you're really interested in and like what turns you on and just go forth.
Paula: That makes sense. We had also talked about the, you also feeling drawn towards things that make you uncomfortable and obviously this is an uncomfortable potentially part of your life right now, but so was pitching your own show and so was running your own show, and we’ve talked about how--
Lisa: Oh yeah, I didn't think I could do it the whole time I did it. I was like, “I'm going to fall apart. Like there's no way I can do this.”
Lisa: So having gone through it, I think that was really empowering.
Paula: What was it like to be a boss?
Lisa: It's hard. I'm not used to like, I don't really like being hierarchical. Like, I, it makes me a little uncomfortable, even though it kind of has to be that way in order for things to run smoothly. Um, I dunno, it's just hard to like, sit in a room with 15 people all looking at you and being like, “So what do you think? And I'm like, I cannot make up my mind about this right now. I have to go into like my own little room and sit and think about things.” Like I just, I'm a slow processor.
Um, whereas like some people are more extroverted and like can, you know, think on the spot and like, I dunno. Um, yeah, I had to learn to kind of step into that role a lot of times and sort of just pretend like, okay, I can pretend to direct voice actors. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing.
Paula: So you had never directed voice actors?
Paula: So what, how did you do it?
Lisa: Um, well, Raphael sat with me a lot and kind of coaxed me through it and taught me like what he learned from working on. I mean that was, what was the most helpful is having so much of the same team from BoJack. So I've known these people for five years and they're all there to support me. Um like, you know, you can't do things like that alone. You need people to like, you know, that you can look to and be like, “am I being insane right now?” They'll be like, “no” or “Yes, you're being crazy.” Um, you just need those people.
Paula: Right. I think asking for help is something that is a really good quality and not--
Lisa: I’ve had to learn that. I'm really bad at it.
Paula: You are?
Lisa: Yeah. I like to just kind of handle everything myself. I don't like to be a burden to anyone. I don't like to show weakness. Like, that's a big thing. Especially, you know, as like, a female boss, you don't want to be like, I don't know, I'm always worried like, “Oh, I'll seem too emotional. I'll seem sick or I’ll like, just seem like incompetent.” Um, that's like a huge fear of mine. Uh, but yeah, sometimes you're just exhausted. Like--
Paula: I like to lean on like, “well, I mean I don't know what I'm doing, but here's what I think you should do.”
Lisa: I do that a lot.
Paula: And it's like, it's like a tick, you know? And I actually did have a boss, I said, “you have to stop,” a male boss who said, “can you stop saying you don't know what you're doing?” I'm like--
Lisa: The thing is like, people say like, “Oh, you should stop being like that and you should be more like, you know, a typical boss.” But I think the opposite is true. I think more people in general should be like, “yeah, I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but it's fine.”
Paula: Right. I should have told him he should apologize for himself more.
Lisa: Yeah. I think it's actually, it's okay to apologize a lot and it's okay to ask questions and like, I don't know, there was like one part where our director, uh, Aaron Long, he was directing episode six and he was like, “the beginning of this script, I just don't really understand what you were going for.” And I was like, “yeah, you know what? This is bad. I wrote a bad opening scene if you want to throw this out and make something different, go for it.” Um, so he made this like, crazy thing where like Tuca like spits out gum and then a guy stomps on gum and like does it to a beat, like it's crazy. Um, and it's, it makes me laugh so hard every time I see it. And that just totally came from his brain so.
Paula: Right. And also the fact that you are the kind of boss who he felt comfortable saying like, I'm not like help me. Like I want to, I want to make this better. Is it okay if I make this better? You know?
Lisa: Yeah. Um, I wanted everyone to like bring their own creativity to the project and it made it so much stronger, I think.
Paula: I also wonder, like, now that I'm thinking about it, not that this is my therapy session, but like maybe, maybe it's like, it's not that I'm apologizing because I'm like, you know, like it's a tick, but I actually am not sure. I'm just verbalizing it.
Lisa: Sometimes I’m not sure.
Paula: Not to say I don’t--
Lisa: and like sometimes, I don't know, I just like, want everyone to feel comfortable, like saying what's on their mind within reason, like, um, you know. I mean, I, if someone's like, “wow, you made a bad choice with that, you know, voice actor,” I don't want them to say so, like, just let it go. But, um, uh, yeah, I want everyone to be able to speak up and like pitch jokes or whatever.
Paula: So when you were, so when you say directing voice acting? Cause I'm in the podcasting business. I'm not, so in the, um, visual world. You're, uh, you've got Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish in a room, like playing your characters and you're like, you're supposed to direct them.
Paula: So how did that go the first day?
Lisa: I don't even remember. I think I blacked out.
Paula: Like are you like, “Can you, could you say that line Ali, like a little bit more somberly?”
Lisa: Yeah, I mean, and they're both really different. Um, and like, I mean, they're both incredibly good at it. I mean, Tiffany just came in and would just like, she'll just give me three line readings in three completely different ways, which is difficult. Usually when someone says a line reading one way, they're gonna stick to that way and say it over and over again. They'll be like, “I love you, I love you.” And you're like, “Can you be like, more aggressive?” And Tiffany would just do it three completely different ways. Um, and then Ali was just such a good actress. Like I was really surprised by her range cause I'd only known her like standup. Um, and we just auditioned her for Bertie. We cast Tiffany very early on and then we spent a while trying to find the right Bertie to like balance her out. Um, and yeah, Ali just really blew it away.
Paula: They have a really, really wonderful rapport together.
Lisa: They do. And they know each other from standup, so they would like whenever they came in together, they would gossip and it was cute.
Paula: And did you know, so you said you cast Tiffany right away. Did you have her in mind when you were?
Lisa: Yes. Um, well no, I just, I saw Girls Trip and I went, “That's a Tuca.” Uh, so that’s the first person we're going to ask, um, and then I read an article and it said, “Oh, her agent, Joel Zadak,” And I was like, “I know Joel.” Um, he's Raphael's agent. He's my boyfriend's agent. So easy. Um, so then we were able to get her a script and she read it on her flight to Africa and she really connected with it. And then, yeah. And then she emailed and said she liked it and I cried.
Paula: Did you cry?
Lisa: I did cry.
Paula: That's awesome. And I mean their friendship again, it's interesting cause they're, you said they're friends in real life and their friendship is really, um, profound on the show. And uh, one thing I want to talk about just in like where does the friendship part come in? Have you had friendships like that that you've channeled?
Lisa: I think that was the hardest part of writing the show and pitching it in a way is that I kept worrying that I am not a good enough female friend to make a show about female friendship. And I've talked to other women who feel the same way and I was like, “what are you talking about? You're the best female friend. Like what?” I think we just see these portrayals of women as like having slumber parties and like calling each other on the phone five times a day and having that kind of relationship. And I don't really have that. Like I have a lot of different friends, you know, I have like, like Emily Heller is one of my best friends, but you know, she's like, we podcast together and that's the majority of what we're doing. Like sometimes we'll go see a movie, but like, usually we're just podcasting and that's our chance to catch up with each other. Um, I have other friends I like, go out to dinner with, you know, I mean, I have horse friends, like, and I think it's okay to not have like one person who's your main--
Lisa: Um, but then of course I made a show where they are, they do kind of have like, a relationship--
Paula: I don’t think there are any other friends, do they have other friends on that show?
Lisa: No. And I think it's kind of bad. Like they, their relationship is a little bit, um, what's that word? Uh.
Lisa: Yes. A little codependent. And it starts to like, you know, the pressure starts to mount and it kind of, it's, you know, when you've been friends with one person for that long and you're both kind of moving in different directions, how are you gonna like should you stay friends or not? Or like how is that gonna change?
Paula: Right. And in that way, I think there's a way that I look at them as one person, sort of two sides of the brain.
Lisa: Yeah. I mean I wrote them both so that definitely they both came from me.
Paula: It's not about friendship, it's about you.
Lisa: Oh no, I made a show about myself.
Paula: Oh no! Um, I wanted to talk about, uh, the, again, the reason that that I was so struck by Tuca and Bertie and wanted to get you on the stage was because, you know, I'm in a business and a lot of us are in a business where there's, there's models of how we make shows. So, you know, I'm working on something right now and you know, someone will be like, “Oh, we should do it, you know Heavyweight does it? Why don't we do it like that Heavyweight does it or Mystery Show or something. We have these um, sort of things we go to, um, these iconic or recently iconic podcasts or templates or “Oh, that sounds like too much like this and I want it to sound more like that.” And you know, as an artist you always have these references. Like that's just what that, that's part of being an artist. And I think that's really helpful. But I think it can be really disruptive as well when you're like, “but I want to make something totally original!” And I keep like, saying, “Let's make it like this or like that, you know, let's do the credits, like Heavyweight or let's do the flashback scene like this other show!” So I don't know. I keep saying Heavyweight.
But um, in terms of how things just veer off. And so we talk about like universe building and then we create this universe and everything works well within that universe. But I really, really am, um, motivated by the way you just sort of break form and one of the clips I wanted to play. As soon as I saw it, I was like, “What is happening?” And it's, you know, and it's, um, it's not in the category of like women are gross. It's, it's so, um, viscerally formatically kind of different. So this is the one, um, this is the video, I think it's called memories. Can you play that one?
[Audio Clip]: Ah, such a tragedy. So young. So many questionable decisions. Luckily for Tuca, her dim bulb of a brain was bright enough to stick close to Auntie Tallulah. Yeah. Okay auntie, let's reign it in. Maybe we should switch to beer. Bernard! Bring us the beer-tinis! [End audio clip].
Paula: So I should say that's Tuca and her Aunt Tallulah, who--
Lisa: Played by Jennifer Lewis.
Paula: Jennifer Lewis. Um, Oh God. That's good to know. Um, yeah. Aunt Tallulah is, I don't know how do you describe Aunt Tallulah?
Lisa: Uh, she's a real, she's a souse? Is that what you, she drinks too much and she's, she gets kinda mean. A little abusive--
Paula: Yeah. But she sort of gives um, Tuca money to pay her rent.
Paula: So it's a little bit of an issue.
Lisa: Yeah. It’s one of my favorite episodes.
Paula: Yeah. Why is that?
Lisa: Uh, it just feels very emotional to me and like, um, I like the other, I like Bertie’s story in it where she like goes to this empowerment meeting and like learns to empower herself, but then she gets into a different context where it doesn't work and she doesn't know how to empower herself and then the wires get crossed and like, yeah.
Paula: Yeah. And meanwhile
Lisa: It’s complicated.
Paula: Tuca is visiting her aunt and, you know, reminiscing about her childhood and you'd get this sort of insight into who Tuca is a little bit, cause she's, she presents as just like, you know, like, “I'm cool, I don't care about anything.” And, and, um, and then all of a sudden it switches from animation to what, what is that, what are suddenly not animated?
Lisa: That was stop motion with like Popsicle sticks and yarn. And then, um, some of that was done digitally, uh, like the characters were, were animated digitally. Um, but they look handmade and yeah, that was, um, director Amy Winfrey pitched that and I loved it.
Paula: She said, let's just bring in some Popsicle sticks and yarn?
Lisa: Yeah. She was just like, “I want to make like a tree out of yarn,” and then like, and I was like, “yeah, that sounds fantastic. Definitely do that.”
Paula: That happens a couple times in the show and also--
Lisa: Yeah there's like puppets in episode four that are really fun.
Paula: Oh yeah. There are puppets.
Lisa: Yeah. Alison Dubois, the art director made the puppets and she made like a toilet that looked like a bush with like little leaves. It's just incredible.
Paula: Yeah, I really, really admire that. And, um, in a similar vein, I was talking to one of our sound designers who's a real fan of the show and he was talking about the way that you work with music and the way that the sort of dialogue sort of fades up and into, out of the music. And it seems to extend it. Were you, how were you involved in the music and how were you thinking about it? Because if you haven't watched the show, the music is amazing.
Lisa: Yeah. The music is done by, um, well we have our music supervisor Andy Gowan, who, um, got us some songs licensed, but then most of the music was made by Jesse Novak who’s a composer. Um, and it would just be like, I want this kind of feel for this scene. And he would just make something. Um, he's incredible. And then for a lot of the songs, like I wrote the songs and I would just like record myself singing and then I would send him the recording and he would make it into a song and send it back. Um, and then he would come in and we would like, coach the actors through singing. Which is fun and like we would work with a lot of actors who hadn't really done singing before. And um, yeah, it was just so much fun. I am not a musician but I like to pretend I am and like make up songs all the time. So it was just a fun opportunity to indulge that.
Paula: Were you um, told as a child that you couldn't sing?
Lisa: No, I was in choir and stuff, but I was just never like, a musician.
Paula: Okay. My parents told me that I couldn't sing.
Lisa: That’s mean.
Paula: Totally ruined, ruined that part of my life. Um, okay. So I wanted to ask you, we sort of covered it already, but I really wanted to know what it's like to be in a writer's room cause I have a little bit of like a fantasy about the writer's room and how it must like how, I mean we do it a bit where I am when we're working on scripting and we get into a room and we all work together. Um, how did it work on Tuca and Bertie?
Lisa: Um, we had like maybe eight writers more or less rotating in and out. So sometimes there would only be me and two other people in the room and sometimes it'd be a full house. Um, depending on who was out working on scripts. Um, it was my first time in a writer's room.
Paula: And did you hire everybody?
Lisa: I did.
Paula: And how did you, like how did, was it just like, Oh you're, I like you or was it, I need to look for different kinds of writers?
Lisa: We interviewed people and I just went with my gut on like, who seemed like they would be, they would know what they were doing cause I didn't. Um, and then, you know, I had people who I knew were good at jokes, people who I knew were good at structure and story and like, um, I just chose people who I thought would get along too, because I just, I mean, when the writer's room, you're in that room for like, you know, eight hours a day for 16 weeks. So if there's a bad egg in there who's like got kind of a toxic or you know, negative.
Paula: Did you have to fire anyone?
Lisa: You really want the juice, don’t you? Um, she wants to juicy stuff. Um, no, everyone was great. Um, everyone was very sweet. It was very supportive. We told a lot of really personal vulnerable stories in there.
Paula: And did they end up in the show?
Lisa: Yeah, a lot of things worked their way into the show. Um, and I just wanted it to feel like a really safe space because when we, when you're in the writer's room you have to like be able to share that kind of thing and just have like, you know, grist for the mill as it were. Um, yeah, it was hard but it was fun.
Paula: And how did it, uh, how did, you have talked about backstage and also in interviews like social anxiety, how did it, do you feel like you reached different points in that having to be in that?
Lisa: It’s funny how you can think of yourself a certain way and then you can just adapt to anything? The first week, my whole neck was sore, just from like turning to look at people and like nodding and then like, cause I'm just not used to that. I'm used to sitting alone in front of my computer. Um, and I just felt exhausted by it. But then I just got used to it. And after a few weeks it felt very comfortable to just be in a room with these people all day.
Paula: And did you have this feeling again that you, because I mean having watched BoJack and Tuca, it's not even, I don't even want to compare them, but I feel like Tuca and Bertie gets very dark very quickly sometimes.
Lisa: Tuca and Bertie?
Paula: Yeah. Like again, somewhat unexpectedly. And you know, as you get get into like the penultimate episode at the jelly lakes when we learn about something that happened to Bertie in her past. Um, and then of course we learned stuff about Tucee’s, Tuca’s past, it gets, um, it gets, it gets really hard and like, how do you think, and you know, we, I work on some shows also where they're, it's like the balance between comedy and tragedy. And tears and laughter. Um, did you have a sense going into it, what kind of balance you wanted?
Lisa: Yeah, I just, um, I wanted it to have that tone. I think a lot of my work has that tone where things are a little bit somber and like, sad stuff happens, but then ultimately it's a very positive, optimistic kind of feel. Um, and I think that reflects my own personality.
Paula: Would you say it's laugh, laugh, cry, laugh? Or laugh, cry, laugh, cry.
Lisa: I don't know. I don't have a specific pattern.
Paula: You don’t have a percentage?
Lisa: It's all by gut feel. Um, it's, you know, it's like you're working with a blob of clay and just as you sculpt it, you kind of carve away the things you don't like and you leave the stuff you love and then you've got your thing. Yeah. I don't think very far formulaic-ly, that's not a word about it. I don't have a formula.
Paula: You don't have a formula?
Lisa: No, I'm not a mathematician. I'm an artist.
Paula: Okay. I'm not going to have a formula either.
Lisa: I dropped out of trigonometry.
Paula: Did you actually? In high school?
Paula: In high school?
Lisa: It was too hard. And I was like, “I don't care. I don't care about this. This is not what I want to spend my time doing.” And the teacher was like, “just stay.” And I was like, “no!” And so I dropped out into the like the remedial math class.
Paula: And that worked out better?
Lisa: It was fine.
Paula: Um, speaking of other things to give things that I'm scared about. So, um, you, I want to get into horses.
Lisa: Let's get into it.
Paula: Let's get into horses.
I'll talk for a second. So, uh, you designed BoJack, you, uh, if anybody follows you on Instagram, they might've seen a note that a little essay you wrote in sixth grade where you say, I, you know, people tease me and they call me horse poop. I don't, I don't remember the exact thing, but I'm, I'm wild about art and I want to be famous for drawing horses one day.
Paula: And I think, I mean, I don't know how people can say they, they became famous for the thing that they said they wanted to become famous for in sixth grade.
Lisa: That was strange little, um, coincidence.
Paula: Coin, I don't you think it's a coincidence?
Lisa: Well, sort of. Not really.
Paula: Not really.
Lisa: But like, yeah, it was fun to find that later. Because I don't remember writing it.
Paula: You just found it like in your parents' house?
Paula: Well I'm, I think it was great. And so you've always loved horses. And now you own a horses. Is this the first horse that that you've had yourself?
Lisa: I’ve had her almost a year now.
Paula: Almost a year. What's her name?
Paula: And how do you, how do you buy a horse?
Lisa: I found her in a Facebook ad.
Paula: And what did the ad say? Horse for sale?
Lisa: It said fancy horse. It called her fancy Um, and I was like, “this horse looks perfect.” So I texted my riding teacher and I was like, “this is a silver dun Fjord.” That's like her color and her type of course, this is not a drill. Um, and she was like, “do you want me to take a look like are you serious?” And I was like, “Hmm, maybe?” And she went for a test ride and she was like, “Here's the news. She's perfect for you.” Um
Paula: What, what, okay, so again, as someone who is scared of horses--
Lisa: I'm also scared of horses.
Paula: What do you--
Lisa: but I ride them.
Paula: What, what part of horses are you scared of?
Lisa: I'm afraid of falling and hurting myself.
Paula: Okay, me too.
Lisa: I'm afraid of being trampled and--
Paula: Me too.
Lisa: Yeah. All the reasons why--
Paula: Like kicked from behind are you? Is it true you're not supposed to walk behind a horse?
Lisa: Oh yeah, I have been kicked. I got kicked in the ribs and it cracked my ribs and I had like a hoof print on my ribs for like a month.
Paula: Was that from Juniper?
Lisa: No, she doesn't kick.
Paula: She doesn't kick.
Lisa: She’s a good girl. Um, yeah that was a long time ago.
Paula: So, so when you're riding instructor rode the horse, said she's perfect for you. How is a horse perfect? Like how do you know that? Cause I’m just experienced with dogs.
Lisa: She’s safe, but she's not boring. So like some horses--
Paula: Safe but not boring.
Lisa: --they're like a beginner's horse where they’ll just go where your point em, whatever. But she's got a little bit of, she's got a little spice. She's got opinions.
Paula: What? Like what kinds of opinions?
Lisa: Like I want to go home fast.
Paula: Which you can tell cause she just starts to run the closer she gets--
Lisa: Yeah and I'm like “Whoa!” And then I try to stop her and she’s like, “No.”
Paula: And what kinds of like, cause you know if anybody's read Coyote Doggirl, I was talking to you about this before, I love Coyote Doggirl, I think it’s so funny and so emotional.
Lisa: That’s my Western graphic novel.
Paula: It's your Western graphic novel? Do you want to say anything else about it. It's really, I don't know. I will say that it features a main character who is a Coyote Doggirl. Yeah. Is that her proper name or--
Lisa: Yeah, Coyote Doggirl, she's like half coyote, half dog girl.
Paula: Right. She has a horse named Red. And at the beginning of the book she's talking, well they're having a conversation except Red doesn't speak words. Right. And Coyote Doggirl is talking to Red and at the beginning I'm like, “wow, she must be so frustrated talking to this horse who never talks back to her.” And then as I'm reading I'm like, “Oh no, the horse is talking back to her. Just not with words because it feels like she's having a satisfying conversation even though he's not saying anything,” and--
Lisa: I wanted to capture that kind of aspect of being a horse girl. Where you’re like, “I love you, I love you. We're bonded. You're a wild creature who loves me and this is very special.” And the horse is just like [inaudible] like I think, I think horses are kind of largely ambivalent towards us.
Paula: So they're kind of like cats ish?
Lisa: Um, No, they're their own thing. But like, you know, my horse isn't like a dog. Like when she sees me she's like, “Oh, it's you. Hello.” She's not like, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Thank God it's you, you're here.”
Paula: So what do you get out of that? Like how does that, what do you get out of a relationship with the horse?
Lisa: I don’t, it’s very hard to describe. Just something about being with her just like makes everything else fall away and it just like calms me down and like, it's just very, uh, it just engages all five senses and um, I have to like, be kind of, I have to calm myself down cause if I'm scared she'll be scared and like I'm the pilot of the plane.
Paula: So is that part of it also is that the feeling of being nervous and then calming down?
Lisa: Yeah, that's a big part of it. Um, you have to, you know, they kind of mirror your own behavior back at you. So if you come to the barn in like a bitchy, horrible state of mind, that will be reflected back at you immediately and it's not going to go well. So you have to like, let that stuff go.
Paula: Wow. That sounds like a reasonable replacement for therapy.
Lisa: Yeah. I mean I do both, but--
Paula: Okay, good. Um, and how often do you go see her?
Lisa: Uh, four or five times a week usually.
Paula: Oh wow. Do you always ride her--
Lisa: Not always.
Paula: Or when you have a horse do you, can you like go and hangout?
Lisa: Sometimes I just hang out.
Paula: Like brush her?
Lisa: Sometimes I just brush her. Take her for a walk. Yeah.
Paula: Wow. Well it looks like a really, when I, when I look at it, it looks like a really good relationship on Instagram. I have another thing--
Lisa: It’s good.
Paula: Just in case no one has seen, Is that Juniper. Is that her?
Paula: I think that is her. Right? In all the pictures -- in all the pictures of you with her. You're so, you seem so calm and happy and it makes me feel like I can get, like, I can get behind the horse thing because I never, I've always felt like I want it. Like I have some envy of when I was a kid of all the girls who were horse girls, you know?
Lisa: It is nice to like, have one thing in my life that I am always going to love and be obsessed with. It's like a driving force. Like it is ridiculous and I wish I didn't love them because they're dangerous or expensive, like it's an insane hobby. Um, but it just makes me feel so self-actualized. Um, I really like it.
Paula: And they live a long time, right?
Paula: How long do they live?
Lisa: She's 13 now and that's pretty young. Like she might make it to 30 or so.
Paula: Wow. That's a good thing, too. Um, I want to get to some audience questions, but I wanted to just, um, also talk about your podcast for a second.
Paula: Cause this is a podcast conference.
Lisa: Oh yeah.
Paula: And I asked you, um, when we were talking earlier about, uh, why did you decide to do a podcast? And you're like, “my mother asked me the same thing.” [laughter]
Lisa: Yeah. My mom was like, “I don't see what you get out of this.”
Paula: So it's called Baby Geniuses, you've been doing it for more than seven years?
Paula: And talk to us about what the show is and what, what you do get out of it.
Lisa: Um, I started it because I started hanging out with Emily Heller and on one of our first friend dates she was like, “Oh, I used to have this show in San Francisco and I miss it.” And I was like, “you should do a show again.” And she's like, “cool, do you want to co-host it with me?” I was like, “yes?” And I didn't think it would actually happen, but.
Paula: And wait, you didn't know each other that well when you started it?
Lisa: Not that well. It was like our third time hanging out.
Paula: I, yeah, I did something similar where I met someone and I was like, “do you wanna write a book together?” And we wrote a book together and now--
Lisa: Isn't that fun to just take a leap of faith with someone? Cause it could go really poorly.
Paula: Yeah, we basically also went on a blind date and the thing is--
Lisa: I mean same with like my, my partner Adam, like we barely knew each other and I, he, we went on a two week road trip together. Like it was just, and we've been together 10 years. Um, but yeah, sometimes it's just fun to jump into it with someone. You just get a good vibe from them and you're like, “yeah, okay.”
Paula: And there's also less at stake if it doesn't go well. It's not like it's ending like a 10 year friendship.
Lisa: Yeah, exactly. It was very low stakes and through doing the podcast we got to know each other better. Um, and we still like surprise each other all the time. It's very fun and we just, um, it's like loosely knowledge-based. So every week we read a different Wikipedia page. We used to have guests and then that got too hard to just constantly book people. So we stopped, um--
Paula: I’d like to do that.
Lisa: It's kind of like constantly evolving. We add new segments sometimes. Uh, right now we have a segment called “Chunch Chat” where we talk about Martha Stewart’s pony Ben Chunch.
Paula: Oh, I think that might be the, how do you pronounce it?
Lisa: Um, well it was Ben Chunch, and now it's Ban Chunch, and I don't know why she changed it. She changed the spelling. It's like one of the deep mysteries of Martha Stewart.
Paula: Have you ever had her on the show?
Lisa: Martha Stewart? No.
Paula: Okay. I think she's bookable.
Lisa: I don't know, she’s.
Paula: Has anyone ever booked Martha Stewart?
Lisa: I’ve found it difficult.
Paula: All right, well she's bookable. Oh, can we play a clip--
[Audio Clip]: It’s time for “Chunch Chat” our regular segment where we talk about any news in the world of Martha Stewart’s pony, Ben Chunch. [segment theme song plays] Uh, I'm just checking Martha Stewart's Instagram and um, it is Labor Day, Monday currently and she's on a labor day ride. Um, this will be a couple of weeks late when it comes out, but she is taking like a POV video of a whole big gaggle of ladies riding their ponies through a field. And she's just talking about, well this is one of the benefits of living in Bedford, Connecticut is it can ride across the field and it's just starting to rain. Um, the person in back is riding a little black horse and I was wondering if it was Ben Chunch, and she kind of pans the camera away and doesn't mention them, so maybe it's not, but I just like, I'm curious to know if, if this is one of Martha's ponies, kind of looks like it. Oh man, she is just really trolling you now. I know. Well also his penis is out, so maybe she kind of pans the camera away and like, just as the dick comes out. So I think maybe she didn't want to mention it. [End audio clip]
Paula: Is it, do you have a, you have a girl horse?
Paula: Is that part of the decision of why I'm back--
Lisa: Whether or not I got to see that dick?
Paula: No. Like, yeah. Like is it like is there something, did you have it a, I don't know. Did you have a preference?
Lisa: I like mares because they're moody, which I relate to. Um, and I feel like they're more complicated, but they're loyal and they have strong opinions. I know, they're just a little like, more complicated. Like if you want like a less complicated horse, you get a gelding, which is like a castrated stallion and they're just, they're kind of mellow, easygoing dudes.
Paula: A castrated stallion.
Lisa: That's what most horses that you ride are--
Lisa: Is Geldings. Yeah.
Paula: But the mares are more like, relatable.
Lisa: They can be, if-y,, you know, they can have certain times a year where they're just like [inaudible] cause they’re in heat or whatever.
Paula: Oh wow. Um, uh, I just want to come full circle on the fashion. So you went ahead and you made what? Ben Church?
Lisa: Baen Chunch.
Paula: What is, is that like Welsh or something? What is that?
Lisa: I just, cause it's constantly, you know, the spelling of it changed from Ben to Ban, so I just wanted to combine.
Paula: So are these 'em sweatshirts and shirts still for sale?
Lisa: Yeah, they're in, they’re on Threadless.
Paula: Okay, good.
Lisa: Just, you know, some merch for fans.
Paula: I was going to buy one, but I had a hard time picking the color. So I'm still making a decision about that.
Lisa: There's too many options.
Paula: There’s a lot of options. Um, okay so we have a little bit more time left and I thought if anybody wants to ask a question we can do some Q and A?
[Audience member]: Hi. My name is Ashley Anne. I make an arts and culture podcast in San Francisco at KQED.
Lisa: Oh great.
[Audience member]: So super art nerd. Um, I have a question about not podcasts. So in BoJack Horseman there's this like texture in the clothing and in the trees and it's something that's like not just a solid color, right? It's like a watercolor.
Lisa: It's watercolor.
[Audience member]: So there's um, in your illustrations before the show, that was something that I felt like was already happening. So I'm wondering, cause it's, I've never seen it in other places. Did you have to pitch like, “let's do some texture or let's like play with how we're using color and like background or, yeah, background.” Just, um, yeah, just using those kind of textures and watercolor, like did you have to fight for that, and like what was that like?
Lisa: Yeah. Good question. That was actually, um, pitched by Mike Collinsworth, who's the Supervising Director. So he's in charge of like making everything animate and look good. Um, and Raphael, the creator were both like, “how do we make this look more like Lisa's comics? Well, she does these watercolor paintings, so can we make this look like a watercolor painting?” So I did all these like watercolor washes. Um, and then later we used textures from other sources. But um, yeah, so like a texture on BoJack's fur, is like my watercolor painting. Um, and actually it was a real pain in the ass to do because we had to make these textures and then, you know, so you have to draw the thing and then color it and then have these textures in and it made all the files enormous and it makes it difficult to animate because when they change position, you know, the texture needs to track so that it's not jumping, um, as they move. And Oh my God. So I don't know if I would do it again, but definitely made, we know, it set the show apart a little bit in appearance from other animated shows, so I guess I don’t regret it.
[Audience member]: Lessons learned from Bojack.
Paula: Yeah, that's a great question. Anyone else? Here's somebody.
[Audience member]: Hey, hello. I just wanted to ask. So like I work in podcasting and oftentimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of podcasts out there in the world and I'm just like, “Oh God. Like I can't listen to all of it. I like, it suddenly all starts to sound the same to me.” And I wonder if someone who works across like, many, many different forms of media, um, do you feel like you have to keep up with what other people are making in like comics and TV, like and fashion? Um, do you, I guess this is like a multipronged question, I'm sorry, but like do you feel like you have to keep up with what other people are making? Do you get overwhelmed and sick of it? And then what do you do when you feel overwhelmed and sick of like the water you're swimming in?
Lisa: This is a fantastic question. This is what everyone who's creating anything has to struggle with. There's just so much out there. It's a real glut. Even just looking at Instagram, you're just bombarded by like beautiful images and it just constantly feels like you're getting left behind. You're being left out, you're not keeping up, you're being replaced by someone who's like you, but better than you. Um, and I think you just need to have just enough of a taste of that to motivate you to, to keep up your game, you know, to challenge yourself. If your thing is like, I draw roses, well maybe you gotta pivot and draw monkeys. I don't know.
Like you just have to, I mean for me personally, I get bored easily, so I don't want to do the same thing week after week anyways. Um, you know, I could have just easily kept to drawing pet portraits or doing illustrated movie reviews. Like those are two things I was known for, but I, I kinda just wanna keep surprising myself. Um, uh, so yeah, just enough of that to motivate you to like, be like, “Oh, that person's so good. I want to make something good.” Like I think that's a good thing. It's okay to feel a little bit competitive. But if that starts to get into a petty area where you're like, “I hate them, they're my enemy, I must destroy them.” They’re your peer. They probably feel that same way about you, maybe. Um, you can ask them questions. Maybe they can help you. Like you can be like, Hey, how did you get that? Like, do you have any advice for me? Like you can always ask people for help. Um, you can just know that you are providing your own value to things. It's about, um, knowing in your heart that you are worthwhile, which is really difficult
Paula: You should get a horse.
Lisa: I mean, or a therapist.
Paula: Or both. I, I would also say that I find it really helpful to get out of the medium that I am working in. So, you know, go to more museums, read books, you know --
Lisa: Going to museums is fantastic. I don’t do it nearly enough.
Paula: No, I got here Tuesday. I'm, it's Friday, Wednesday. I'm still trying to go to a museum. I might go to a museum later, but you know, putting yourself outside of the regular world that you're in.
Lisa: Yeah. If you’re just, don't just look at stuff on Instagram, like go for a hike and look at nature. Yeah. Let's go see what people were painting 300 years ago. Like, go on a, you know, try to go out of town if you can. Everything is going to feed back into your own work. So just coming back to like, who you are, what you care about, what makes you happy and kind of, you need to shut out all the noise of everything else. It's really difficult.
Paula: It's very hard.
Lisa: It's hard. We all, we all feel like we're drowning all the time, so.
Paula: Good question. Read poetry. Next.
[Audience remember]: I have a question over here. Hi, I'm Heather. Thank you for this. First of all, wonderful. Um, you, Lisa you just, you continue to, to make groundbreak, lots of firsts and, um, are pioneering, you know, to use, I don't know,
Lisa: I suddenly feel like I'm gonna cry.
[Audience remember]: I know. Well seriously I criteria. It's, it's super cool. And I think, um, with that, it's I and Paula with you, with what you do, um, do you feel like you got the support in the marketing and the, and the, you know, the spice and all of that stuff that is needed for something like that that is happening, “Do we need to tweet more? Do we need to complain more? It's like, why are you taking these things from us that we love?” So I'm looking at like, are you getting the support and if not, how can we all rally and do that?
Lisa: I mean, from, from the fans of my work and from the show, I feel so supported and buoyed, like incredibly so. Um, like I feel cherished, which is all anyone can ever ask for in this world. Like, we all deserve to feel cherished. Um, and I'm just excited, like knowing that whatever I make next will, there's gonna be people who are excited about it. So like as an artist, like I'm so happy about that. Um, did I feel supported by the marketing from Netflix? Well, I'm not gonna talk about that today, maybe later. Um, but uh, yeah, it's, it's hard to get the word out about anything you're making and to like make people care about it. Yeah. When it needs to be cared about, it's really difficult.
Paula: Yeah. And I think a lot of us do a lot of that work ourselves. I mean, on social. We had talked about that on Instagram and et cetera. We do a lot of that work ourselves and that can be very exhausting. It's like, “I made this thing, here's the thing I made, here's the thing I made, look, check out the thing I made,” but what choices, I mean, what choice do we have sometimes?
Lisa: For certain things I make, I'm just okay with it having a smaller audience. Like my podcast, like I never really worry about having more listeners. More is better. And I definitely could be better at promoting it, but for me, you know, I mean, I, my podcast is not my main thing. I almost see it as like, a hobby, even though it does bring me income and I want to keep doing it. Um, and I want to keep growing it. I'm not worried about it growing exponentially. Like I know, I know it has a limited audience and that doesn't mean it's bad. Um, some things just aren't going to be for everyone and that's fine. Like that's intrinsically like what makes them good. Um, so that's a little bit of a contradiction, but--
Paula: No, I don't think, I don't think that's contradictory at all. I think that's right. Some things--
Lisa: It's hard like, as women too, we're kinda used to being like, um, minimized and ghettoized and like being erased by history. So I think we constantly have this pressure to like, not be forgotten and we need a wide audience and uh, but like, I don't know. It's OK to like, I mean, like, so many people don't know who Nicole Holofcener is. And I'm like, “She is like one of the best directors! She has so many great movies.” But like when I mention her, people are like, “I don’t know,” But oh my God, she's incredible.
Paula: Yeah. Well there you go. Go watch her stuff.
Lisa: Please do.
Paula: Um, we have time for one last question.
[Audience Member]: Hey, I really like your work. I came across the Hot Dog book in college and it was wonderful and super grounding and I always felt really comforted when I need anything. So I read that and I was curious about like, what content, whether it's reading or like movies or whatever that's grounding for you when you need it.
Lisa: Oh, that's a great question. What is grounding for me when I need it? I have some comic books that I go back to over and over again. A lot of them made by friends of mine, like, um, anything made by Jillian Tamaki or Eleanor Davis or Julia Wertz like is such a funny person. Kate Beaton. Um, all of those just feel like, “Aw, this is my home. Like I love this stuff so much.” Um, um, I just, I love reading books. Like I like-
Paula: You said, books?
Lisa: I love books.I have this like that library app, Libby and I'm constantly like checking out books on there. Um, this year I read Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing and it's like so surprising. It's not what you think it's going to be and it's just like, I think it just changed my life that book. I love it. She just, she writes about like birdwatching and like just noticing things and then she'll like reference some art piece and, and kind of tie it in and it's like meandering and it's just, um, it's just a really interesting way to write a book and see the world. It's great.
Paula: Yeah. Doing, doing nothing is actually a great thing to do.
Paula: Um, okay. So I want to wrap it up. I want to say thank you so much for coming. In the category of other creative outlets and different things you can do, I did want to end on something that, um, I had found that I love that you did that I don't know if anybody knows about, but you had, you did a music video for Tegan and Sara. And so again there's, it feels like you're the, the things you can do and the way your mind works is sort of limitless. It’ll be the last thing we hear. But um, I want to thank you again and if there's anything else, you had mentioned something in, in, uh, backstage about this video and what it meant to you and what you thought about it.
Lisa: Oh yeah, Well when I was asked to make it, I did not know how to make a music video, but I just said yes cause I just wanted to pretend I did.
Paula: Just say yes, guys!
Lisa: Cause when Tegan and Sara asked you to do something, you don't say no. Uh, cause they're amazing. Um, and it was really hard and I had to like hire animators and I had to, I composited the whole thing myself in After Effects, which I had to learn how to use. So there's a lot of little mistakes in there, but, um, uh, it was just a really fun project and it was a good example of like, you know, challenging myself, doing something that made me uncomfortable. Like, but because I had a deadline and I was, you know, trying to do a good job for these people I love, uh, it made it possible. And yeah, I just, I feel very personally connected to this video.
Paula: Oh good. So I'm glad we're going to play it. Thank you everyone. Thank you so much for coming. Thank you, Lisa--
Lisa: Thanks everyone.
Paula: --for coming. Keep doing what you do. And here's Tegan, Sara and Lisa.
Dessa: That was Paula Szuchman and Lisa Hanawalt, speaking at the 2019 Werk It festival.
Both the festival and the podcast are produced by WNYC Studios and are made possible by major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the Annenberg Foundation.
Event sponsors include Luminary, Spotify, Spreaker, Acast, Himalaya, and the Women’s Foundation of California.