Legend has it that if you say “Grace Helbig” three times she will show up in whatever YouTube video you’re watching. This My Damn Channel vlogger has been absolutely everywhere since moving to L.A. this year and now she’s ready to take every facet of media by storm. So what’s cooking on Helbig’s burner? She’s currently working on a book, shopping around a pilot and she’s about to release her film Camp Takota. We’re calling it: Grace Helbig is going to take 2014 by storm.
Playboy.com: Have you settled into your L.A. lifestyle?
Helbig: I’ve really acclimatized to this way of life, it’s great out here. I like having a car, I like that L.A. feels like it’s Groundhog Day every day and the weather here is wonderful. I just went to Toronto recently and it was freezing. I mean, it probably wasn’t that cold for Toronto, but I felt like I had bird bones! It was awful.
Playboy.com: It seems as if a lot of comedians and people working in new media are flocking to L.A., so it must be a really cool time right now for everybody there.
Helbig: It is really cool! I was in Brooklyn for five years, which was great because I was doing a lot of more traditional improv comedy. Of course New York is really wonderful for that and also for television and film auditions, but in terms of digital space, it’s not as crowded a community as Los Angeles. I think a few weeks after I moved out to Los Angeles there was one week I was doing a collaboration video with a different YouTuber every single day. That’s when I realized that this was a good move for me.
Playboy.com: What’s been your favorite collaboration since your big move out west?
Helbig: I’ve been a fan of Flula for a few years. Flula is this German YouTuber who is so hilarious. He and I just shot a video last week, and my friend Hannah Hart and I shot a video for his channel a month or so ago called Auto Tunes where he outfits his cars with all of these GoPros and Reggie Watts styles the beats and remakes a popular song. We did “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus!
Playboy.com: You were also a panelist on @Midnight! Did that episode air yet?
Helbig: It did! They’re really quick with their turnaround!
Playboy.com: Oh man, I must’ve missed it!
Helbig: That’s okay because you can watch it on Hulu! [laughs] The @midnight guys are really great. Before shooting it I was at the festival I mentioned in Toronto. I literally flew from Toronto, got off the plane, came home, put deodorant all over my body and took a car to their studio to shoot that episode. The episodes actually air the same night that they shoot them, which I was really excited about. It’s instant gratification!
Playboy.com: It really seems that the platform is working for them.
Helbig: It’s such a fun way to utilize social media and to showcase the talents of comedians in that same way. And because it’s not really a game and the points don’t really matter, it just makes a fun form for people to be silly. Of course Chris Hardwick is a really great host; he laughs at everyone’s jokes and makes everyone feel like the funniest person in the world, which is really helpful, especially when you’re on the show alongside Kurt Braunohler and John Hodgman.
Playboy.com: Oh shit! I missed a big episode.
Helbig: It was so good! I actually met John Hodgman about a year earlier. He and I were both on Chris Hardwick’s initial pilot Hardwired for Comedy Central, so I got to meet him and make some jokes with him there. It wasn’t like I was walking in totally blind. And Kurt actually used to be a teacher at the improv school I went to in New York. So it was nice to have a familiarity with everyone that was part of the show. It was a great fast-and-furious experience.
Playboy.com: So great, I can’t wait to see it in the New Year. I’m so happy it was picked up.
Helbig: I think it got picked up for 40 more episodes. It’s such a fun, easy show to do and to do it in a timely fashion is wonderful. Those weekly pop culture shows just don’t really work anymore because every joke and pop culture story has been made into a joke or meme on social media by the time you get to the end of the week, so they’re doing a really great job of being able to make light of those things in real time.
Playboy.com: And you tend to be really involved in the changing ways social media is affecting our relationship with entertainment. Your #NOFILTER show really did that! What do you foresee in the future of social media and our entertainment?
Helbig: I think that social media kind of started as its own area for us to interact in smaller communities, but now it’s becoming complementary content to traditional and new media platforms. @midnight does a great job playing these Twitter games that everyone can participate in while they’re watching the show in real time. They’ve created this dual watching experience where you can be engaged with an online community while you’re watching television with a totally different community. I see media becoming more and more entwined. Watch What Happens Live is one of my favorite late-night talk shows at the moment because they do such a great job engaging through social media during the show. I’m hoping to get into that game as well. I really want to bridge the gap between traditional and new media because I think that’s where everything is headed anyway.
Playboy.com: And your film Camp Takota is about to come out online!
Helbig: We just launched the site on Black Friday. You can preorder the film along with all of these different care packages that you can order with the film and the behind-the-scenes documentary. You can get shirts, sweatshirts, signed posters and even underwear! We’re also offering these cool digital packages with a Google hangout with us, a personalized video or an outgoing voicemail message. Obviously we took notes from a lot of Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns to see what people really wanted from us. We financed this film independently on our own and we haven’t asked anyone to pay for anything, but we still wanted to be able to provide perks in the way that crowdfunding sites do.
Playboy.com: Were you a camp kid when you were growing up?
Helbig: I never went to camp! To me it just did not exist. The idea for the movie came from Mamrie Hart, who cowrote and stars in it. One summer she had a really bad breakup and just wanted to get away from dick for a summer and went back to this all-girls camp to become a camp counselor in North Carolina and ended up having the summer of her life. So it’s loosely based on that camp in North Carolina. I don’t think Hannah has gone to camp either, so two out of three of us only have these generic ideas of what camp is to go on. As for Mamrie, all she talks about is these amazing heydays of getting drunk in the kitchen with all of the dishwashers after the kids have fallen asleep and all the hilarity of what being a camp counselor really is like. I feel like I definitely missed out on something. But we were shooting in an area in Santa Clarita with no cell phone reception at all, so we did really feel like we were at camp. We had to have real human conversations with each other. I think I made friends for life. I don’t know, it got gross.
Playboy.com: You work on so many projects simultaneously. Is your YouTube channel your main focus?
Helbig: It’s true that I’m working on a lot of different things, but YouTube is definitely one of them. I’m trying to figure out how to bring some new life into something I’ve been doing for five years now. I’ve been working on a makeup series with Bobbi Brown called Grace’s Faces, I’m pitching a show, writing a book and working on other digital projects along the way. Essentially, I’m trying to expand the YouTube channel into something a little bigger, getting more into the traditional spaces and seeing how the internet can infiltrate them in a way that makes sense for the audience and my brand. So a couple of cool things should be happening in the New Year. I know that sounds incredibly vague, but I feel like a whirling dervish of content creation right now!
Playboy.com: What’s your…
Favorite food: Peanut butter and guacamole, but not together.
Favorite drink: Dirty gin martinis.
Worst pickup line: I was wearing a shirt with horizontal stripes at a bar and some guy said, “You must have a lot of confidence to wear that shirt. Horizontal stripes make girls look fat.” And then he wanted to buy me a drink.
*Most embarrassing moment: *I got the chance to interview Vince Vaughn for his new movie The Internship. He’s so sweet but I thought I’d do this gag interview where I would pretend that we’re on a date but still ask him these interview kinds of questions. He didn’t totally get the joke, so the interview was so incredibly awkward. It was me trying to pretend that we’re on this date, although I had told him already what the gag was, but he kept on saying, “But we’re not on a date, it’s a fake date.” But I have to pretend and then edit around all of this crazy awkwardness of me trying to go with this shtick that wasn’t working. Fortunately he was wonderful throughout. Afterwards I was like, “Well, I can never be in the same room as Vince Vaughn again because that was awful.”
First memory of Playboy: That all the boys in seventh grade loved this thing called Playboy! But another really great memory of Playboy is that I first started vlogging in 2007 because I was house-sitting this house in South Orange, New York. It was an Indian family who had taken their kids back to India to meet the rest of their family for the first time. I was looking after their house and their dog for a month, so they put me in their guest bedroom which had two shelves full of Playboy magazines! I pulled them out and showed them in my very first vlog. This was when I realized it wasn’t a dirty magazine but something people actually collect as a wonderful piece of art. That’s probably my most fond memory of Playboy.