Joan Rivers going strong at age 80

While most entertainers tend to slow down when they reach 80, Joan Rivers is a glorious exception.

Since her victory on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2009, her career has reached new heights. Her reality show on WE-TV, “Joan & Melissa,” was just renewed for a fourth season. “Fashion Police,” her show on E!, mines Rivers’ skills for caustic critiques of celebrities on the red carpet.

And she still tours the country doing stand-up. She comes to Atlanta Symphony Hall on Saturday to kvetch about the many things she finds annoying — and as her 2012 book, “I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me,” proves, that’s a long list.

But Rivers is feeling great, having just celebrated her 80th birthday.

“Everything is terrific,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I’m climbing over pianos in my act. I do The New York Times crossword puzzle every day. I have pleasant dreams.”

And at her age, Rivers continues to find joy throwing verbal bombs at pop-culture targets. “I’ve always been that way,” she said. “Now, truly, I don’t care anymore. The emperor wears no clothes. I’m glad to point that out.”

Years ago, she and her daughter, Melissa, helped make red-carpet arrivals as interesting — if not more so — than the actual awards shows. “We were the first ones to turn walking into a building into an event. But now everyone is there on the red carpet. Everybody has a press agent. Everything is so controlled. It’s not as much fun. With ‘Fashion Police,’ we can sit there the next day and make comments about what we really thought.”

Not surprisingly, she has nothing but sympathy for Savannah’s Paula Deen, who lost her Food Network contract last week after admitting to using a racial slur in the past and wanting to do a plantation-style wedding.

“What are the rules?” Rivers said. “It’s so ridiculous. She said she’s sorry. She’s a Southern woman.”

When told about how an Atlanta sports talk show was recently fired for making fun of an athlete with the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Rivers groaned: “Maybe I shouldn’t come to Atlanta! I do everything through humor. That’s how I get through life. Lou Gehrig’s disease is terrible. But I do jokes about Dick Clark. I lived with a man for nine years with one leg. I did jokes about that. The country is insane over political correctness. If you are big on political correctness, don’t come see me. Go see the Osmonds!”

Rivers, despite her hectic schedule, also found time to be on ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap,” which aired this past Sunday. Melissa “swapped” places for a week with Bristol Palin in Alaska. Bristol flew to Los Angeles to spend time with Joan and Melissa’s 12-year-old son, Cooper.

On the show, Rivers tried to work less, play more. She went fishing and tried lacrosse with Cooper.

“Bristol and (her sister) Willow were very sweet,” Rivers said. “I want to expand their horizons. I want to take them to New York, take them to the theater, take them to Harlem, to the Jewish community. Give them the real New York!”

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