IU alumnus Jon Savitt wants readers to turn the page to mental health with his new comedy book published Jan. 28. “Read This When You’re Sad” features tips, illustrations and inspirational messages aimed at helping readers laugh, relax and reset, according to his website.
Creativity and comedy can be seen throughout Savitt’s career, whether it’s the stand-up he does on the side or his day job at Punch, a creative agency. The 29-year-old Washington, D.C.-based writer and comedian’s contributions include writing for the Washington Post and Funny or Die.
“There’s always a funny guy in the office,” his boss Joe DePalma said.
This book was created to offer its readers a reprieve from the stresses of life, especially during the pandemic, and give the readers a space to confront any sadness they might be struggling with, Savitt said.
“I’m always trying to figure out ways to inject humor ultimately to start a conversation or continue a conversation that has to be had,” Savitt said.
The book is filled with interactive pages and isn’t just a collection of quotes or messages. There are a variety of things in the book meant to keep the reader engaged such as simple flowcharts and even a word search at the end of the book, Savitt said.
“I want people to think and get in touch with how they’re feeling, but I never want to put too much stress or homework on my audience,” Savitt said.
Savitt, who graduated from IU in 2014, said he used to spend his time studying psychology and sociology between the bookshelves of the Herman B Wells Library. He said that despite studying the social sciences, he ended up having a creative career.
“IU was the place where I found writing and where I found comedy,” Savitt said.
He said he remembers fondly the helpful professors, creative writing classes and often visiting the Comedy Attic on Walnut Street.
Savitt said he used to live in a big pink house by Kirkwood Avenue and said he came to the realization that comedy is something he wanted to do while sitting in his room after his work was first published in College Humor — a moment he said was likely followed by a visit to Kilroy's on Kirkwood.
Savitt’s brother, Adam, said that Jon cares about the communities he's a part of and tries to channel it into his work. This care extends to IU as he was willing to offer advice to current students interested in comedy.
Jon Savitt said he recommends that students expose themselves to a variety of different subjects, whether that be different classes like writing or film, to help discover what they’re passionate about. He encouraged students to keep pushing on despite roadblocks they encounter and use modern tools like social media to their advantage.
“At the end of the day, if you have an idea, if you’re interested in it, if it makes you laugh, just do that,” Savitt said.
“Read This When You’re Sad” is available for free on Savitt’s website. In lieu of payment, he said he suggests that those who enjoy the book donate to the charity Child Mind Institute, an organization dedicated to helping children struggling with mental health issues.