With the cables being white-red-yellow it sounds like a SD video connection. There should be some video inputs that will match the cable colors. Then you would select the video input on the TV. It won't be HD, but should give you a picture.
You say you hook this cable to the laptop HDMI connection. Is this a cable that came with the laptop? The reason I ask is the component connections and composite connections are analog video/audio and the HDMI is digital video/audio.