Internet sensation Grace Helbig has transitioned from the internet to television with The Grace Helbig Show on E!. Helbig’s show has an innovative format where she combines guest interviews with fan interactions from social media. At the NBC summer press tour, Helbig explained her experience in moving to television and what her loyal fans can look forward to.
The Grace Helbig show airs Fridays at 10:30/9:30c on E!.
What are you looking to accomplish in creating your own show?
Yeah. I’m trying to create a show that isn’t out there right now, I, myself, and not any other host. So I think that sets the show apart from the start.
I’m really trying to create something that feels familiar as a nighttime talk show, but is a hybrid of what I do in the digital space. I’m trying to create a television show that feels interactive, that feels personal, and that feels intimate so that the audience that already watches my YouTube videos can come to television and feel not so, I guess, unfamiliar with what they are seeing, but also at the same time feel like they are seeing a television show — they are not seeing a Web series brought to TV. They are seeing something that feels big enough and rich enough and full enough and fully thought‑out, that fits on a television screen. And, yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do.
What was the biggest challenge for you going from the Web to TV?
One of the biggest challenges is working with other human beings. I make Web videos all by myself. I write them. I shoot them. I’m in them. I edit them. I post them. I promote them. And when you make a television show, there are other people that do those jobs, it turns out. I don’t have to wear so many hats, which is really wonderful. And I feel surrounded by people that are really, really good at those jobs. And at the same time are really, really interested in maintaining the voice that I cultivated online, and the point of view and respecting that and bringing that to television in a more elevated way. So collaboration has been ‑‑ it’s been a new form of collaboration for me. But I’m really, really excited about the outcome.
Are there things that particularly interest you and are there things that you would never cover?
Sure. There are things that I don’t think are disinteresting to me. I am just not the most comfortable talking about them, and that would be religion and politics. I think there are a lot of other people in the television space that do a good job talking about that. Instead, I like talking about people’s allergies and what makes them afraid and what did they tweet this morning and what music did they listen to before they went to bed last night and talking to humans about being humans, I think, is most interesting. And also being able to have a platform to mix Internet personalities that you see on YouTube with traditional media celebrities that you see on TV and in films and in commercials and finding out what it’s like when those types of people hang out with each other and being like the conduit between those two worlds is one of the things I really hope to accomplish.
How much are you involved in the finished product when focusing on the TV show?
Oh, I’m very much involved. My face is in it ‑‑ that’s part of it ‑‑ and my voice. And everyone that’s been working on the creative side of things has been really respectful and making sure that I’m okay with everything to the point that, you know, coming from the Internet, there’s this whole idea that network television is this big bad wolf, and it’s going to change me, it’s going to make me different than what I am. The experience with E! has been so not that, that it’s weird. I feel like I’m being pranked in some way because they have been so accommodating to giving me creative freedom and letting me maintain the tone that I have on the Internet, on their television network[…].
You’ve done a wide variety of projects, what’s your strategy for the ones you choose?
They are all very different things. My favorite part is making something that I’m not embarrassed by, making content that I feel is creative and it’s interesting and it’s something I’m proud of, and something also that doesn’t embarrass my family or my friends or my heritage in any way. And they have all been really great outlets to do that in different ways.
I didn’t necessarily set out to make this television show when I was born, you know. I loved television and wanted to be a part of it when I discovered that I wanted to pursue comedy. But then the Internet thing, kind of took off for me career-wise, and that’s where a lot of my attention had gone in the past few years. And this project very organically came about through a receptionist at a production company who loved my YouTube videos, showing her boss the videos, and his inviting me in for a meeting and then talking from there.
And it felt so organic that it seemed right. And I come from an Improv background. So saying yes to things is kind of inherent in my blood now especially — yes to things that makes sense. And so these have all been situations, “Camp Takota” included, where projects happened relatively spontaneously, and I said yes to them, and they have been working out pretty well.
So knock on wood. We’ll see how that goes.
Are you planning on incorporating audience feedback into your show?
Oh, absolutely. That’s ‑‑ the biggest goal I have in this show is trying to make a television show feel interactive because what I love about the digital space and I think what has been its advantage and allowed it to grow so drastically and dramatically is the intimacy you have with the content‑creator, the conversations that are two‑way that you can have between content‑creator and audience and back and forth.
I’ve already reached out and asked people on Twitter and on Facebook how should I sign off from the show, what kind of art should be in the house, what questions should I ask, Aisha Tyler. And they have already been so excited to feel like they are a part of it. And to me the most important part is my audience; they are not only my friends, but they are also my boss at the same time — and making sure that they feel like they are included throughout the process.
I know I, as a human being, am very fascinated with what’s happening behind the scenes and how something comes to be. And so I really want to make the show transparent on that level so that they see the crew. They see the cables on the floor. They see that I’m not trying to cover up that there is a television crew making the show with me. Instead I’m trying to show that that’s part of it and embrace it and celebrate it and turn it into a part of the show.
What do you think are going to be the biggest drivers to get people to tune in?
Boobs. That’s how it works online. So we’re trying to translate that to TV.
I think the biggest drivers are to really make them feel like their voice is heard, to feel like they can be a part of it, that their questions get answered, that their ideas get tested, that they feel like it’s a friend that they’re hanging out with.
I know I’m an introvert by nature and going out on the weekend doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. So I want those people that don’t necessarily want to go out to feel like they have a place to go on Fridays at 10:30 on E! following “The Soup.” That they can ‑‑ that they can hang in with me, and it’s just as much fun as going out because I know making Web videos online has been just as much fun as performing live in comedy theaters all throughout New York, if not more fun. And I want people to really feel comfortable and that it’s a friend that they come back to every week and that they have a party to go to every Friday night.
Are there people that you are going to be able to talk to or work with now who may not have been available when you were on the Internet?
I hope so. I really, really, really want The Rock to come on the show. I think that he’s cool. I think that he just seems like a very warm, welcoming, say‑yes personality that I really resonate with. I also think he uses social media really well. If you are on Instagram, look him up because he uses so much hash tags that it’s very hilarious. He also takes his treadmill with him when he travels and brings it to hotel rooms, which I find very charming. And he’s also had a nontraditional career trajectory that I think is really interesting and, obviously, very relatable for me. And so I’d love to just sit down and have a conversation with him, also sit down and just feel tiny next to him. I think that would be really fun.
Speaking of career trajectory, where do you think or hope this brings you?
I am right now focused on creating a show that’s not terrible. I want to make something that people want to watch and that they want to see more of. I think it might not be the best use of my energy to think too far in the future; so I’m trying to stay pretty present and work on the content that we’ve already put together and how we can make it better and be really, really, really happy with everything we put together so far. I saw the first cut, the first episode a few hours ago, and I loved it. And it’s very rare for me to be so proud of something so quickly, but I feel really proud[…].