When comedian Rosie O'Donnell took the stage at Governor's Comedy Club in Levittown on Saturday for the first of her seven shows, one thing was abundantly clear: Long Island loves Rosie and Rosie loves Long Island right back.
"It's so wild to be here," said O'Donnell, 51, who looked slimmer than she has in decades. "I'm from Commack -- home of the Motor Inn. In-room Hollywood movies! Gel beds! Yes, indeed."
She centered her show on her life and delivered the material as if she was catching up with old schoolmates at a class reunion.
"I have five children, including a brand new baby that just turned 1," O'Donnell said. "People ask me, 'Why would you have a baby at your age?' I tell them because I have four teenagers, and I needed to remind myself that I actually do love children."
O'Donnell talked more about her kids and why she gave up her TV career to be a full-time mom, a decision her daughter Vivienne, 11, doesn't agree with.
"Viv hears stories about how I used to be famous and gets annoyed," O'Donnell said. "She says to me, 'Mommy why can't you be more like Ellen DeGeneres?' I said, 'Honey, I was Ellen before Ellen was Ellen!' "
She even spun humor out of her 2012 heart attack. "I was making a bargain with God," she admitted. "I promised, 'I'll lose weight and not say anything bad about Republicans again. Just get me through this!' "
Throughout the night the mostly female middle-aged crowd was with her every step of the way.
"You got to know who she is and what she's about," said Veronica Goldberg, 50, of Franklin Square, after the show. "I could connect with her."
Christina Ragusa, 52, of Valley Stream, added, "Rosie was very heartwarming. She used to be rough around the edges -- now she seems humbled."