By Matt Levy
On occasion, a stand up comedian will go onstage, absolutely destroy, walk off and we won’t know a THING about them. Think of Steven Wright. Steve Martin. Steve Harvey. OK. Mostly guys named Steve we don’t know much about.
Well, New York based and Rye native comic/actor/writer/producer/director Laura High is certainly not that person. When High is onstage she, “double(s) down on (her) story and voice.” She told me she doesn’t “Fear going as personal and intimate in my jokes as possible. I will turn all of my insecurities, fears, regrets, into jokes.” It’s true. High really dives in and leaves you feeling like you just met a friend onstage who maybe overshared about a number of topics ranging from her divorce and first marriage, to an eating disorder, being a sperm donor baby and toughest of all, growing up in Westchester County.
This has always been High’s brand. In normal social circumstances, she confessed to, “Over shar(ing) way too much, which at dinner parties does not play out well, but on stage absolutely works. I have no filters in real life, which is to my own social detriment, but makes for great stand up.” High, a lifelong Stephen Sondheim superfan citing that she knows “Company backwards and forward” always knew she wanted to be an actor and make people laugh. Even in high school when she was the self described, “Weird, theatre girl wearing way too much eyeliner, sporting Hot Topic, and listening to musicals. Honestly, I was annoying.”
Further down the road, High graduated from Nazareth College with her B.A. in Theatre and moved to NYC to pursue her career as an actor. Interestingly, High kept getting asked if she was a stand up comic because of the way she delivered jokes in a David Ives play. High wasn’t a comic at the time but thought she should give it a try. To be fair, her best friend Becca who lived with her for 12 years did say, “Even after all this time, I can’t stop laughing at her.”
Soon after, High took the stand up comedy course at Carolines on Broadway with Linda Smith, and fell in love with the process. It was an immediate feeling of “I’m home” for her. Comedy had always been in Laura’s DNA though. Her father, one of NY’s most sought after consultants, has a razor sharp wit with the comedic timing of a professional. Along with her silly mother (more on her later!), she was raised on Broadway Shows and old school comedy. High was the only eight-year-old who could do a flawless Gilda Radner impression and knew Johnny Carson’s famous bits like Carnac the Magnificent by heart.
She has not stopped performing stand up since inspired by personalities as diverse as Gilda Radner (obviously), Eddie Izzard and David Hyde Pierce. It should also be noted that High has since branched out into sketches and political satire working closely with her creative partner and significant other Dave Columbo. Together, they run a production company called Blunder Theory. The two actually met when High saw Columbo hosting an open mic at The Lantern in Greenwich Village. Laura says, “Dave was making people laugh constantly and consistently.” She also noticed he produced his own videos. The two started working together on and off. High added, “it was like we shared a brain.” Years later the funny pair went on their first date the day after their first show at the New York Comedy Festival, and have been inseparable since.
In fact, they’re quarantined together now and still creating amazing content in this COVID-19 world. Since, they started quarantining, High’s household banded together to make funny videos under the banner of Quarantined Heights. On a nearly daily basis, the group is braving the sad state of the world and producing sketches about being holed inside together while making fun of the absolutely ridiculous situation we are all in. How do they do this?
Well, to understand, you have to know about High’s living situation. Two years ago, Laura started the process of her divorce, her grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, and her mom was saving for retirement. Then, an idea formed. Laura and her mom, one of New York’s most successful wedding planners (also, a goofball that sings, makes weird noises and hides behind trees pretending to be a T-Rex) decided they should sell her apartment and her grandparents should sell their house so they could buy a townhouse, live together, and support each other. The family bought a townhouse in Washington Heights and Laura now lives on the third floor with Columbo and two other renters. High’s mom lives on the second floor that has her office. The ground floor is a separate apartment for her grandparents, and the basement has been converted into Blunder Theory’s film studio and office. It’s a setup better than anyone could have dreamed.
In fact, a lot of High’s successes have been better than she could have ever dreamed. Two of her greatest accomplishments were when she became a member of SAG-AFTRA as an actor after a principal role on a Lifetime show called I Loved You, But I Lied. For inquiring minds chasing her down on IMDB, the episode is called “Hired” and she played Diane, a woman paying a pretend boyfriend to get her parents off her back for being unmarried. She was proud of the role and prouder of having a SAG card in hand to prove to the world she was a working actor now. Another memorable achievement was when High performed her Breakout Series show at Carolines. After crushing her headlining set, High donated the proceeds to Mimsi International, a non-profit that delivers prenatal care to the women of Haiti. Not bad for a Hot Topic theatre kid.
However, the coolest of High’s success stories was when she worked as an extra on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Laura got to the sound stage and there were actors dressed as sailors, Vegas show girls and more. The crew called our heroine to set and she walked past Maya Rudolph which caused her knees to buckle. Then, Jane Krakowski. Then, Amy Sedaris. Finally, it turns out Laura’s doing a scene with Tina Fey. You may have heard of her. After the director yells “Cut!” Fey holds out her hand and says “Hi I’m Tina.” High confessed she was so nervous and shaking, she could barely focus. Someday in the future when they’re collaborators the two of them will laugh about this.
With all of this under High’s belt, you must be asking yourself, what else could she possibly have up her sleeve? Well, right before quarantine set in, the production team Double Nickel Entertainment behind Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino as well as many other highly acclaimed films picked up Blunder Theory’s web series Insemination and has since started pitching it to streaming services and networks. The production company also has a few other episodic series set up at various studios and streaming networks but this unscripted half reality/half stand up series chronicles Laura’s hysterical journey as a sperm donor baby to find her siblings. According to the sibling registry, High could have up to 50 siblings. High adds, “The goal of the series is to find as many siblings of mine as I can, along with talking about the reality of the infertility industry which is one of the most irregulated branches of the health industry.”
Along with Insemination, Blunder Theory, High plans to tour once it’s safe again. There is nothing more in this world High loves more than making someone laugh. Whether it is on stage or just one on one at a coffee shop. It might involve a bit of oversharing too. We don’t mind. Either way- she won’t be a Steve where you know nothing. You’ll know an awful lot about Laura by the end.
Not to overshare too much but you can find Laura’s content at all of these spots on the web:
One final note! High also thought it was important that you know when belugas are born, they are grey. They turn white as they get older.
You thought you were getting away. Nope. Gotta stay true to Laura’s oversharing spirit and add that one last thing.