Both Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell got their start in standup in the 1980s. Whereas Barr began performing as a married mom of three kids, O’Donnell was just a teenager when she got into comedy — landing her first big break on Star Search at the tender age of 20. With only so many women in comedy at that point in time, it’s only natural that O’Donnell looked up to Barr, nearly ten years her senior.
Of course, this is the year 2019, and things have changed considerably, to put it gently. During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live on Monday night, O’Donnell was asked by a call-in viewer what her friendship is currently like with Barr, and what she thought of her recently announced comedy tour with Andrew Dice Clay.
The caller was obviously referring to Barr’s remarks about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, who she compared to Planet of the Apes, which ultimately cost the comedienne her sitcom revival. (Not to mention, there has got to be some awkwardness being that Barr is a Trump supporter, and O’Donnell, uh … clearly is not.)
Although O’Donnell was not aware of the tour, she spoke with compassion about her old friend’s struggles with mental illness — while making it clear that she does not support Barr’s problematic rhetoric:
“You know, I love and respect her, and she was very honest about her struggles with mental illness for her entire career. She talked about having dissociative identity disorder and that is not an easy thing to cure or fix, and I have tremendous respect for her.
I’ve always looked up to her. I love her, I care about her as a friend, and as a woman, and as an entertainer … and I don’t support a lot of the things that she says.
And that doesn’t mean that I don’t have compassion for her and hold her in love and light in my heart, and wish that she could be her best self at every moment, as I’m sure she wishes for me. And, that’s how it is. It’s hard for some people to grasp that, but that’s how it is. That’s how love works like that.”
That could not have been an easy question to answer, but all things considered, she handled it well. You can watch O’Donnell’s full remarks below, which kick in around the 3:49 mark.