Laura House

Laura House spent her summer soaking wet.

"It's a lot of sweating," recounts House. "But it's really cool to get to meet so many cool people. No one is really just an extra."

House, of course, is one of the Austin Stories stars and has spent her summer tooling about Austin, standing in the blazing sun for hours at a time and meeting folks like Sarah Hickman, Guy Forsyth, and Don Walser. Just a few weeks ago, House got to make her first trip to New York City for the MTV Video Music Awards. "I just couldn't get over the city's excellent use of space," says House.

Her trip to the VMAs is but a small part of the tornado that tore through her life when MTV picked up the idea on March 20, coincidentally House's birthday. By March 23, House, Pope and Kremer were in Los Angeles learning how to write a sitcom. "I've still not gotten any presents," House laughs, aware that a show on MTV may be a gift many dream about. However, it is not a gift that has come without hard work and long hours.

Despite her 16-hour days spent writing, taping, and flying to and fro, House found time to perform in a few Midnight Blue shows at the Capitol City Comedy Club, as well as spend some onstage at the Velveeta Room. "Performing live is very therapeutic, really," says House. "I don't want to come out of Austin Stories and not have performed for six months."

Local critics have been slow to warm up to this new sitcom but national voices, including The New York Times, have raved about it. The first episode broke records at MTV, receiving the highest rating ever for the music channel's non-video programming. Not bad for a trio of kids from Austin who aren't sure if they'll have jobs after taping wraps in November. For House, the experience has "just been surreal. I think I still don't get it. I don't have a sense of `Oh, I did that.'"

House, however, is taking the show's success in stride, despite having to sweat out the next few months. -- A.M.

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