Love her or Donald Trump-level hate her, Rosie O'Donnell is a kind of a big deal. Chances are pretty good you spent a childhood afternoon, or fifty, watching The Rosie O'Donnell Show back when her face was a daily television habit. Having left that post back in 2002, Rosie's heyday might be long gone, but she never truly left the spotlight, especially when making a habit of ruffling feathers on The View. So when she took over the Palm Beach Improv this past weekend, we assumed Rosie was fleshing out some new material in front of a live audience in preparation an an upcoming standup special. But instead, it looks like she might be looking for a new outlet to express an issue very near and dear to her.
Friday was the opening show of her weekend run, and the house was packed. The first thing on everyone's mind was 'Will there be koosh-balls?' but that quickly faded when she hit the stage and the crowd all did their best "Damn, she looks great" faces. The 51-year-old comic and actress has been laying low everywhere besides Twitter, so her transformation was a welcome intro to a night of true stories, including ones on why she dropped the weight.
While the full standup set was riddled with funnies, her show was less of a joke-athon and more of a life update and learning lesson. We were treated to tales of her five adopted kids, including the oldest Parker who is now 18. Highlights included Rosie revealing that because she left her own show so long ago, her children barely believe her when the she recounts stories of fame but chuckles at the fact that their favorite daytime show is Ellen.
We learned the perils of divorce and the story about how Rosie met her second wife, Michelle Rounds (in a Starbucks #theamericandream). She name dropped everyone from Penny Marshall to Madonna, all the while taking us down Rosie memory lane. The nostalgic and personal tales were ear candy to a Rosie fan and easy listening for a standup junkie. Then shit got real.
Hey, when you're Rosie O'Donnell you can use your soapbox for whatever you want and this meant a serious message. Early in 2013, Rosie suffered a massive heart attack. It took her 50 hours to recognize her condition and finally visit the hospital. Clearly, she survived but was on the brink of death. Her detailed account of what happened was a massive PSA riddled with statistics about female heart disease and calls to action about what to do even if you merely think you had a heart attack.
Her story was gritty and real and empowering. She went through a major life event that caused her to reevaluate daily life. It was a terrible health scare, but one she's learned from. The heart attack is why she made healthy changes and lost the weight, it's why she has a positive outlook every morning, and we bet it's why she is hitting the stage again, too. Rosie isn't just out there to make you laugh anymore; she's on a mission to save some lives.