Food & Drink

In Bed with Nancy and Joe Guppy

Nancy Guppy gets intimate with writer and performer (and husband) Joe Guppy

By Nancy Guppy September 8, 2014

0914guppy

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Seattle Magazine.

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?  
Jg: Yes.   

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.   
Jg: OK.  

Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).

 

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