THE IRRESPRESSIBLE Joan Rivers is sharpening her knives and pouring acid on her tongue ahead of a gig in Birmingham, writes Steve Zacharanda.

The 81-year-old American comedienne is appearing at Birmingham's Symphony Hall as part of the not so subtly tour called Quick...Before They Close the Lid (Seriously...this one could be IT).

Joan will be delighted her tour has now become an event because a planned boycott petition has reached over 6,000 names and there is even talk of a protest outside her UK gigs.

That's 6,000 people saying they will not be going to a gig which they would not have gone to anyway.

In a country of 56 million, that leaves a lot of Joan fans who will be gagging to be offended.

However, I bet the fella who started the online petition will be lauded in whichever right on coffee shop he frequents.

You see Joan cracked a joke about the situation in Gaza, which naturally offended a lot of people who wanted to be offended.

But a few weeks back, when allowed back on The Tonight Show after being banned for over 30 years, she cracked a joke about the Holocaust.

So at least she offends everyone on either side of each divide.

And this all comes after she drew criticism for quipping about having less room than a couple of famous American kidnap victims.

But despite all the broohaha Joan does not apologise.

Which is such a relief in this "ready-to-be-outraged" society we live in now.

Where keyboard warriors manage to type complaining tweets whilst continually throwing their hands in the air in mock shock.

The celebrity apology is now a village industry but Joan rightly says "I am a comedienne, I don't make the decisions which kill people, I just tell jokes."

And she has been telling jokes for seven decades. She tells jokes about everything, even about her husband's suicide.

She is also an Emmy-winning television talk-show host, Tony-nominated actress, best-selling author, playwright and is currently starring in the TV show Fashion Police. Joan Rivers is at Birmingham Symphony Hall on Tuesday, October 14.