If you like sketch comedy like National Lampoon Radio or Damage Control Phil Hartman ‘s Flat TV is a sketch comedy CD that belongs in your collection.

Flat TV is a low budget, lost tapes venture that doesn’t really show either.

The set-up here is a week day in the life of a normal, somewhat dysfunctional American family. Hartman does all the voices aside that of the mother (played by Jessica Maxwell) and the daughter. There are sketches based on many different television eras and different programming as the mother stays home and channel surfs until everybody comes home from school or work, watches more TV, and then goes to bed.

Hartman’s voice talent is obvious on Flat TV and so are his writing talents.

His stint on Saturday Night Flies is not evident as none of the skits here are overworked or last too long.

Anyone who grew up with television in the seventies when there was actual programming and not just infomercials in the mornings, syndicated talk shows in the afternoon, and mostly dreadful stuff in the evenings will recognize the various moments of the wife’s day as she channel surfs her day.

The TV News segment about peace in the Middle East is as relevant now as it was then (and probably will be thousands of years from now).

Other segments include a spoof of war movies, fifties TV shows, and that staple of sketch comedy, fake commercials. The closer, a take on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson with guests Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger is also very good though Hartman’s Kissinger is a bit off.

Flat TV is good stuff. There are a couple of moments where the sound effect cellophane / eggs frying is a bit too loud otherwise this CD sounds a lot better than the 2-track recording it really is.

Flat TV
Phil Hartman
Sketch Comedy CD
Laugh 2002
45 minutes

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