Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo 

SAN ANGELO – The story goes that a doctor once said that the diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs, and even the liver, are given a massage during a hearty laugh. Someone who has been giving out a bellyful of laughs as a prescribed dose of medicine for years for her patients is Kathy Keaton, or rather her alter ego—Piccolo the Clown, Humor Therapist at San Angelo Community Medical Center.

While Kathy has worked for many years as either a membership director, sales manager, sales director, etc. her best work she is remembered by, or rather love of, is being Piccolo the Clown. After 19 years of service as the Membership Director of The San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, Kathy retired last month. 

To cap off her illustrious career, the Chamber at its annual 2018 Leadership Class graduation/ Luncheon, prior to Senator Charles Perry’s address to the attendees, Keaton was honored and thanked for all her years of service to the Chamber. 

Conexión interviewed Kathy and asked her how her character, Piccolo the Clown came into existence.

“In 2000, After hearing researchers from around the world share the studies they were doing on the true health benefits of laughter and how it decreases stress at The Association of Applied and Therapeutic Conference, I approached San Angelo Community Hospital, and their leadership team and presented what I had learned.” “I had been delivering humor and laughter on a volunteer basis for many years.” “In 2003, I proposed an ongoing Humor Therapy Program, the first in West Texas” said Kathy. 

In Piccolo’s bio, it states that she is a member of the Texas Clown Association, and Clowns of America Association, just to mention a few of her wide range of achievements. Kathy also established the first Therapeutic Clown Hospital Program in West Texas. The bio also says that she recently published her first book “Prescription Humor” compassionate stories of medicinal humor. 

“Last year, after 15 years as a Humor Therapist at SACMC, I decided it was time to share my collection of personal experiences and true stories of the amazing spirit, strength and hope I see weekly from patients, family members and staff.” “My recently published book "Prescription Humor" is full of compassionate stories of medicinal humor, explains how I stumbled into clowning and also shares why humor and laughter are so important to our health and well-being in our stressful world.”   

Kathy currently serves on the board of directors for Hospice of San Angelo and Meals for the Elderly

In honor of Piccolo the Clown’s 40 years of humor, Conexión paid her tribute with corny joke that goes like this.

“A piece of string walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender looks at him and says, "We don't serve string here." So, the string goes outside, twists himself up a bit, kind of roughs up his ends and walks back into the bar and orders a drink. The bartender looks at him and says, "Aren't you that little piece of string that was in here a few minutes ago?" The string says, "No sir, I'm a frayed knot."

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