After Clawing Her Way to the A-List, Kathy Griffin Is Out to Conquer Madison Avenue

Make way for Queen Kathy

This is a preview of next week's cover story. Check back Nov. 16 for more from our L.A. Issue.

Kathy Griffin has done it all: television, movies, stand-up, writing, comedy albums, New Year's Eve with CNN's Anderson Cooper (this will be her ninth year in Times Square with the snowy-haired newsman) and even singing (she performed the theme song for her short-lived talk show, Kathy, on Bravo). She's got two Emmys and a Grammy ("half an EGOT," as she likes to say, missing only the Oscar and the Tony), big-time celebrity friends (Cher, Sharon Stone), and a giant house in the Hollywood Hills. But what she really wants is to be the face of your brand. We're talking a big, fat endorsement, people.

"Come on, it should be a good deal!" she says during an interview in her living room as she prepares to set off on a yearlong, 80-city comedy tour dubbed "Like a Boss." When told that Jim Parsons, star of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, was hired to do an Intel campaign after the company's marketing team spotted him on the cover of Adweek in the office of the agency mcgarrybowen, Griffin gushes, "Oh, that's my dream." Griffin will stop at nothing to get your attention, admen and adwomen. That's why here, the star is done up like Cleopatra on the cover of our L.A. Issue—a golden surfboard and hot surfer dudes standing in for the palanquin and slaves of ancient Rome. The "Queen of Comedy," for your consideration.

Griffin has conquered the comedy and TV worlds. Photography: Brakhax2

Actually, Griffin, 55, is hardly a stranger to the ad business. Her big break—paving the way for her recurring role on Seinfeld and her stint on the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan and her Bravo reality series My Life on the D-List and all the rest—was in the early '90s, when she was cast in a commercial for Kenwood stereos. (Thanks to YouTube, the spot lives on.) She recalls the gig in her book, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin: "As explained to me at the audition, the setup was a futuristic world, and I was supposed to perform the '70s funk hit 'Play That Funky Music, White Boy' as if music had never existed." While other actors trying out for the job hammed it up, Griffin opted for another tack. "I just looked at the camera completely deadpan and spoke the words in a halting monotone, totally rhythmless, like a zombie," she writes. "If you've ever heard Paris Hilton's album, you know what I'm talking about."

Most recently, Griffin fronted a social media campaign for the AARP whose mission was to debunk misperceptions about the brand, says Stefanie Flaum, associate media director at MediaCom USA. "Kathy Griffin is the living embodiment of [AARP's] 'Real Possibilities' campaign mission. She got her start in Hollywood in her mid-30s … and has only picked up steam since. At the age of 55, she routinely plays to sell-out crowds, offering a very human example of what one’s real possibilities after 50 can be."

After briefly taking over for her friend, the late Joan Rivers, on E!'s Fashion Police earlier this year—a misstep Griffin and others have chalked up to bringing back the show too soon after its star's untimely death—the comic is back doing what she does best: packing out theaters with her inimitable, rip-the-mask-off-celebrity act, a tour that will take her everywhere from New York's Carnegie Hall to Las Vegas, Elmira, N.Y., and the Horseshoe Casino in southern Indiana. "I'm going everywhere," she says. But first, she's got to persuade you to hire her, Madison Avenue.

Adweek: After famously being stuck on the D-list all those years, you finally have achieved A-list status. You started your career doing commercials and have said that you want to do more brand endorsements because brands love A-list celebrities.