Known best for his stint as a writer/performer on the comedy show Almost Live, Joe Guppy was once a patient in the psych ward at Providence Hospital. His new memoir, My Fluorescent God, revisits that experience from the perspective of his current occupation—as a psychotherapist. Hear him read and reflect at the book launch (9/13, 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Co.; elliottbaybook.com).
LOCATION: The Guppy marital bed, on Queen Anne
JOE’S DRINK: World Peace tea
NG: For the record, your period of insanity happened before we met, correct?
NG: Describe My Fluorescent God.
Jg: It’s the story of a severe bout of mental illness that was triggered by a drug, and how that psychotic state forced me to face a lot of personal issues I hadn’t dealt with. It’s also about the kind of therapy that was helpful to me, and the kind that was not.
NG: Is it scary to put this story out there?
Jg: Oh sure. Even though this happened more than 30 years ago, there’s always that fear of being judged, of people thinking “Is he still crazy?”
NG: Well, what is your current sane-versus-insane ratio?
Jg: [laughs] Depends on your definition of sane, and on the day. And on how much my wife is bugging me.
NG: Do you think your experience with mental illness makes you a better psychotherapist?
Jg: No doubt. One of my first jobs was at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, and I had to deal with some really difficult clients—schizophrenics, people coming off crystal meth—and I immediately felt comfortable because I had spent so many months living amongst people like that, not to mention being one of them.
NG: When you first opened your box of journals marked “Joe’s Crazy Period,” what did you think?
Jg: It was really emotional, and that surprised me. My hands were shaking, and my heart was racing, and I realize now that it was, essentially, a PTSD reaction.
NG: When the book is made into a feature film, who will play you?
Jg: A young Brad Pitt or John Turturro.
NG: Which one looks most like you?
Jg: I’m positioned precisely in between the two of them.
NG: Let’s end the interview with you emptying the dishwasher.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).