Rosie O’Donnell talks parenting and heart disease in her return to standup

By Anubhuti Kumar

via HBO


Rosie O’Donnell, “the Ellen before Ellen,” as she calls herself, had a lot to say in her return to standup, the HBO special entitled, “A Heartfelt Standup.” The set was packed with laughs, living up to the caliber expected of O’Donnell after so many years of experience in entertaining diverse audiences. A loud and zany reselling of recent years of her life, the hour long set was received with many genuine laugh out loud moments and hilarious insights.

A mother of five, O’Donnell related many stories about parenting in a comical way, allowing herself and audiences to take a less serious look at their seemingly harrowing experiences with raising children. One story that stood out for its irony and was made even funnier with O’Donnell’s spin was how her daughter’s idol is Ellen DeGeneres. When O’Donnell tried to explain that she had a show just like Ellen before Ellen even had a show, and how she gave it up to raise her kids, her daughter was appalled at what appeared to be an obviously terrible decision. She went on to catch the audience up on other recent parts of her life, such as helicoptering her son through college applications and her marriage. She also talked about her interactions with her idol, Barbra Streisand, and how she stayed in O’Donnell’s home in Florida, causing much excitement for O’Donnell.

What started as a commentary on the hilarity of day-to-day struggles with life and family and love and kids and parenting, ended on a more sober note as O’Donnell related her experience with heart disease in a major heart attack in 2012. She never lost her humor as she told the audience about the trauma and struggle of being a woman experiencing a heart attack, as statistics say women are less likely to realize they are experiencing a heart attack and less likely to get treatment right away. She presented an acronym that she hoped would help women recognize signs of a heart attack: H.E.P.P.P, or Hot Exhausted Pain Pale Puke. All of these signs, in the worst degrees the women has ever felt, signal a heart attack and need to be addressed with the utmost immediacy, she says.

This standup special served the dual purpose of audiences getting to see O’Donnell at her best again and raising awareness for the signs and struggles of women and heart disease.

Anubhuti is a contributing writer. Email her at


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