Grace Helbig on switching from YouTube to TV
Grace Helbig has already made her mark as a YouTube star, with more than 2 million followers on her channel, It’s Grace. Now she’s bringing her brand of comedy to nighttime television. Her new E! program, The Grace Helbig Show, will put a new spin on late-night when it premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET. EW caught up with Helbig to hear more about her YouTube-to-television venture.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you want to do a TV show? Has this always been a goal of yours?
GRACE HELBIG: It’s always been in my peripheral view. I feel like media is morphing, and everything is very new—people are experimenting with different ways to produce media, different ways to consume media, and I’ve always been hyper-fascinated by that. E! gave me an opportunity to kind of experiment, and try something that I’ve never seen before on television. However, if I had seen it on TV and not been involved, I would have been very angry. That’s usually how I know that I’m going in the right direction, is that I’d be upset that I wasn’t a part of that thing if it got made without me.
Your show has been called a “hybrid comedy talk show.” How would you describe it?
We’re hoping that it becomes the show with the most adjectives associated with it, with the least actual definition. I know that I want to give my preexisting audience a new way to consume new content from me, and at the same time try to reach an audience that I’ve never made content for before. This is now my blog on a budget, in a way. I’m afforded opportunities to do really dumb stuff that I can’t afford to do on my own. I want it to feel not the same as my YouTube channel, but also not a huge departure from that tone and that style and that voice. I’ve just been telling everyone that I want to make something that doesn’t suck. So if that happens, then total success.
What would you give as a tagline for the show?
I think it’d be something along the lines of, a curious introvert’s nighttime talk show—hashtag “notsexual.”
What can viewers expect to see happen in each episode?
Basically, on Friday nights, I’m inviting an audience to just come hang out with me in my house. Very low-key, very fun, general conversation about culture and life and lifestyle and all kinds of stuff while I bring in guests and friends and comedians and my family.
What kind of guests are you planning on having?
It’s a lot like planning a party—you send out invitations to everyone, but you don’t actually know who is going to show up. But you kind of have to prepare for everything right now. That’s going to be one of the fun things to reveal as we get closer to the show, who has RSVP’d to the party.
Who would be your dream guest?
I would love to have The Rock, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen. One, he’s hilarious. Two, he’s amazing on social media. Three, he travels with his treadmill—he Instagrams himself in his hotel room like, “With the bae,” and it’s just his treadmill sitting next to him. So I’d love to just have a conversation with him. My ideal guest is someone that’s just fun, that doesn’t have an ego and is there to have a good time—because why not?
What about the interview locations? How will you choose them?
We are shooting in a house, which makes it feel authentic, like you’re coming over to my house on a Friday night instead of going out somewhere. Interview segments are going to happen all over the scope of the house, so it’s going to feel essentially like I’m living my life within this show. An interview could happen while I’m folding laundry. An interview could happen in the car while I’m getting to-go food with a friend. Nothing is off limits. There’s something to be said about how interesting really mundane things are, and just the idea of like, how good is The Rock at folding laundry, is something I am curious about. I love the idea of watching celebrities doing very simple, relatable things, and maybe in a way that’s competitive or game oriented—some way to heighten stakes. It seems really simple and really kind of stupid, but I always use stupid as a compliment. I know something is a good idea if my friends and I talk through it, and someone is like, “Oh, that’s so stupid,” and we’re like “Aha, we’ve landed on something great.”
What have you learned as a YouTube star? Anything you could utilize as a talk show host now?
I’ve learned a lot about my physical features, my voice, and how annoying things are to certain people and how horrible people are about it. But I’ve also learned that if I veer from being myself at all, an audience can smell bullshit from a mile away. If I’m inauthentic in any way, it’s not engaging to them. I’m not a real person to them, which is the true success of a lot of YouTube personalities—they’re real people expressing real opinions and real perspectives on the world. One huge part of my perspective is that I don’t know anything, and I’m curious to find out. I really want to take that quality that I have learned about myself and infuse that in the show.
Will your YouTube channel have behind-the-scenes clips?
The YouTube channel will continue—it’s my core. It’s my hobby that’s a job and my center focal point. There will be a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff on there, but they’re also of the making of the content that I still make today. So people don’t have to worry about me leaving YouTube behind to say “Hi” to television—that just won’t happen. I’m a Libra, so I feel like I need to maintain a sense of balance at all times.
How will you make sure you include your YouTube fans but also appeal to a broader, national television audience?
I’ve already started going on my blog and Twitter asking for suggestions for different things, from what art should I hang in my house that we’re going to be shooting this in or how should I say goodbye on the show. I really want the people that have been loyal viewers of my content to feel like they’re creating the show with me. Really keeping them engaged and showing them the behind the scenes, posting things online after the show airs and showing them bloopers and unseen stuff and extra content that is available for them online—and then creating with them while the show airs, feeling like, “We’re all watching this together. This is our little slumber party.”
It almost sounds like it’s going to be a fan-driven show.
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a choose-your-own-adventure type show, but I definitely have found that I gain a lot of insight into the viewer’s world simply by asking questions and engaging them on social media. That’s kind of what social media is for—it’s a two-way conversation. I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t continue that conversation with them.
Who or what can fans get excited for in the first episode?
They can be excited for the fact that I have no idea what’s going to happen. You can imagine everything, but once a television show—because there are a lot of moving parts—is put together, it’s hard to envision what the final product will be. They can trust that I will be sitting on April 3 at 10:30 along with them, wondering, “What the f–k is this going to be?”
The Grace Helbig Show premieres April 3 at 10:30 ET on E!