In her long and somewhat bumpy career, Rosie O’Donnell was never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. After all, it was the Commack native’s vulnerability that made her early work so memorable to audiences and producers alike.
Almost seven years after her last stint of televised standup, on the short-lived variety program Rosie Live, O’Donnell will be returning to her roots to bare it all in the HBO special Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Standup.
The special revolves around issues O’Donnell dealings with every day life—motherhood, marriage and health. While the comic may be naturally funny, there is more of a tell-all tone to her routine than typical standup. O’Donnell referred to it as a “heart-to-heart” on her Instagram.
The special may have trouble finding an audience besides her most loyal fans because of the loftier issues, some critics have said.
“She hasn’t shaped the comedy well enough to prevent a lot of this from feeling more like a public-service announcement than a stand-up performance,” Variety reported.
But, the trailer of the special reveals some hilarious moments. O’Donnell entertains the audience with anecdotes ranging from the lesbian dating scene to her son masturbating.
In the final 20 minutes of the show, O’Donnell openly discussed her recent heart attack. O’Donnell admittedly used this time to promote life saving and preventive measures for women with heart problems. She even performed a rap dedicated to the symptoms of heart disease.
“When the doctor said I was having a heart attack, I’m like, ‘Shouldn’t that feel like Mike Tyson punched me in the tit?’” O’Donnell recalled.
The special airs just two days after O’Donnell’s final appearance on The View. Viewers celebrated her re-taking a platform that enabled her to speak her strong opinions.
O’Donnell was originally on The View in 2006, but left the show after multiple on-air disputes and an infamous celebrity feud with Donald Trump. Despite getting along with new co-workers and patching things up with Barbara Walters, O’Donnell made the decision to leave on her own this time.
“The truth is I had a heart attack two years ago,” she said in a YouTube video, addressing her fans. “And stress is very bad for a heart attack.”
In addition to the stress of hosting one of America’s most watched day-time talk shows, O’Donnell is also going through a divorce to second wife, Michelle Rounds.
Fans hoped she would provide an explanation on The View this week, she said. However, O’Donnell rejected the idea and her departure was not mentioned.
She used the video as a more personal address to her fans. O’Donnell also used it as an opportunity to continue spreading awareness of heart attack symptoms.
“Survivors: You should minimize your stress, maximize your exercise and control your diet,” O’Donnell said. “That’s what you need to do for a healthy heart.”
This new turn for O’Donnell may just be the next step of her evolution as a performer and a person. She’s played many roles in her life including comic, Star Search contestant, movie star, talk show host and gay rights advocate. No one’s career is certain, but for now O’Donnell is putting her family and her health first.
Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Standup premieres 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 on HBO and HBOGO.com.