What’s Worth Watching: Rosie O’Donnell Heartfelt Stand-Up (HBO)

Rosie O'Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up
Paul Schiraldi/courtesy of HBO
Rosie O'Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up

Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up (Saturday, Feb. 14, 10/9c, HBO)

The setting couldn’t be more prosaic: a comedy club in a nondescript mall in rural Nyack, NY. But the message Rosie O’Donnell is delivering in her new stand-up act couldn’t be more personal and profound. Speaking from experience, having barely survived a deadly serious heart attack two summers ago, O’Donnell reveals that 300,000 women die of heart disease every year, more than from all cancers combined, and most women aren’t aware of the symptoms, much less likely to call 911 than men. (She waited way too long to attend to her own crisis.) “I’m a tough woman,” she reminds us. “Why didn’t I call 911?”

The public-service-announcement element of O’Donnell’s Heartfelt Stand Up comes at the very end of what is otherwise a raucous, funny and very relatable hourlong set, much of it devoted to the pitfalls of parenting. (Those who remember her devotion to little Parker, her first adopted son, during her Rosie O’Donnell Show heyday may be amused to know that, now 18, he’s become her living nightmare: “That kid turned on me,” she laments jokingly.) There’s no question that Rosie O’Donnell is a survivor. If her message can help others survive, that would make her a hero.